Choosing New Contemporary Furniture for Your Home

Written by | Art & Design

Poliform Contemporary Furniture

Poliform Contemporary Furniture—All photos courtesy their designers.

Add a touch of chic to your digs with the clean lines and sculptural forms of modern furniture.

Many people say they love modern furniture, but they often don’t really know what modern means. Furniture catalogs and showrooms can be confusing, tossing around words like Midcentury, Bauhaus, or the ubiquitous “contemporary.” Thus, for someone who just wants to inject a little edge into their homes, choosing new furniture can produce a serious case of decorating anxiety.

Don’t despair; it’s not as complicated as it sounds. Incorporating modern elements into your existing décor doesn’t require a decorator, just some thoughtful decision-making.

Define Your Terms

It’s a good idea to know what style you are looking for before you shop. “Modern” has essentially come to mean anything that doesn’t look like you’d find it in a dusty antique shop or your parents’ house in suburbia. But when correctly used in reference to furniture, modern refers to a specific period and style. Beginning in the 1940s, designers like Charles and Ray Eames, Verner Panton, and Finn Juhl began to create furniture using new forms and materials. Think sleek lines, engineered materials, and interesting color palettes. For example, there’s the iconic Eames lounge chair made of steamed plywood and leather. Or picture the curvaceous Panton chair in bright, molded plastic. If those designs intrigue you, don’t be afraid to add a piece to your space. However, if your primary furnishings are Chippendale style, you might want to consider something less over-the-top modern.

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“Contemporary” pieces can be a good way to introduce a modern-esque look into your home, without having to make a huge commitment. Contemporary can bridge the gap between hyper-modern and colonial-style furnishings. Its pared-down profiles with very little in the way of embellishment can go with almost anything. Clean-lined sectionals with stainless steel legs, pedestal tables, and sculptural chairs all fit the bill, and can be mixed with more traditional pieces.  Start small, by adding a chic contemporary side table that functions as sculpture, as well as a place to rest your drink.

Bardot Chair in Slate and Nude by Gabriel Scott

Bardot Chair in Slate and Nude by Gabriel Scott

Get Creative

Another way to add a contemporary or modern element is choosing industrial or sculptural sconces and floor lamps. Finishes are important as well. Look for pieces made from polished cement or metallic chrome to add a reflective touch. Graphic pillows or rugs can also add a contemporary feel without necessitating a full-room redesign.

No matter how you choose to introduce modern edge, the most important factor is love. Don’t buy a chromed-up, cutting edge coffee table just because you want to impress your friends. No matter how au courant it is, if you don’t love the piece, you will end up kicking it to the curb.

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Also check out: “New York Splendor” Unlocks the City’s Most Memorable Rooms

Last modified: April 2, 2019

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