Much of modern design is about simplicity: clean lines, smooth curves, and (more often than not) single solid materials. And often that simplicity is treated as plainness – there’s nothing fancy about solid colored squares and boxes, right? But a lack of ornamentation doesn’t have to mean modern designs are boring. In fact, with the right material choices, minimalist designs can be quite striking. The secret? Bolstering those crisp, clean geometric shapes with luxurious material choices.
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Why It Works: There are a few materials that are pretty iconic to a modern aesthetic – like chrome, glass, concrete, and plastic. But it’s these same materials that give modern design its austere reputation. If you make the switch to a material that’s considered traditional (like velvet upholstery) but give it a modern twist (the color, the shape of the chair it’s on), you get a look that borrows the sophistication of the traditional elements and re-purposes it into something strikingly modern. The same goes for shiny gold or brass elements; they’re interestingly analogous to highly-reflective chrome, and when they’re used in the same simple square way, it again plays with your perception of old versus new. The bottom line? Try to add some contrast to your modern design, not in terms of black and white (which definitely will not make your space feel less sterile), but with a few traditional elements that can help add personality to a simple modern decor.
Get The Look: Start with dining chairs that have a modern design, but nice upholstery in a fun (but solid) color, and preferably gold or brass hardware. They’ll help elevate an otherwise plain white tulip dining table (which will keep the look from tipping too far in the opposite direction). Then supplement the look with accents that combine traditional and contemporary elements, like a modern crystal chandelier, an abstract painting with gold accents and a gold frame (bonus: that matches your upholstery color), and even a nice gold table topper.
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At its simplest, a modern design can be very bare bones. But that doesn’t mean you can’t create an elegant, sophisticated look that relies on minimalist elements – you just need to know where to accentuate the design to really make it pop.
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