DEAR DESIGNER: I am trying to decide what style to decorate my home. I don't like clutter, printed fabrics or ruffles. I like the pictures I see in magazines of contemporary rooms but I don't know if I can live in such a cold space. How can I have a clean, simple and modern design that feels warm? -- Reagan.
DEAR REAGAN: There are many adaptations of contemporary design. Some of the most avid modern contemporary advocates like to include warmth in their plans.
Contemporary interiors are often redefined to fit the homeowner's personal taste, geographic location and/or the architectural elements of a building. A contemporary interior in Arizona or New Mexico might include small accents of Southwest design, like an Indian print pillow or a textured wall. A contemporary interior in one of our Las Vegas high-rise condos is often minimalistic (when a room is stripped to its very basic necessities) and might exhibit shiny finishes to complement our bright and modern skyline. And, in a modern home on the East Coast, it's common to see an antique table in the middle of a highly contemporary room. When designed with thought for scale and balance, these variations can be warm and impressive deviations.
Modern contemporary design can be illustrated by utilizing simple lines and geometric shapes with smooth and solid fabrics. One of the most classic modern rooms you may visualize when you hear the words modern contemporary is a white sofa paired with a set of solid black chairs. This vast contrast in color can make you stand at attention when you walk into a room designed like this. Pairing white with black in clothing is said to confer a certain respect to the person wearing it. This unswerving contrast also can be construed as intimidating. We feel comparable emotions when we enter a similarly decorated room. Thus, it leaves you with the impression that modern contemporary style is cold.
All design styles morph and change as new products are introduced and utilized in creative ways. Modern contemporary now embraces welcoming colors and softer lines. Using a neutral color palette along with a shape that creates movement, the pictured Symbole sofa by Roche-Bobois is a terrific example of how a contemporary room can maintain its style while exhibiting warmth.
With our growing high-rise population here in Las Vegas, contemporary design is on the rise. The minimalistic style seems to be a popular fit for condos and second homes. But, if you take a look at contemporary hotel suites, you will find the modern style applied with a welcoming softness. Hospitality designers know that the majority of people want to walk into a space and feel relaxed, not prim.
Contemporary design can take on many different faces. If you are drawn to the simplicity and clean geometric lines, this could be your style. Feel free to incorporate some of your favorite things into modern design, creating your own definition of modern contemporary.
Cindy Payne is a certified interior designer with more than 25 years of experience, a member of the American Society of Interior Designers, as well as a licensed contractor. E-mail questions to her at deardesigner@projectdesigninteriors. com or send them to her at Project Design Interiors, 2620 S. Maryland Parkway, Suite 189, Las Vegas, NV 89109. She can be reached online at www.projectdesign interiors.com.