In interior design, modern furniture and contemporary furniture refer to two distinct categories. Surprisingly, modern furniture refers to furniture from the ’50s and ’60s through to the ‘90s.
Whereas, contemporary furniture is about the present and future.
If you are looking to give your salon or barbershop a fresh modern look with subtle throwbacks to gone eras, then you have landed in the right place. From inspiring contemporary salon designs to ultra-modern aesthetics plus clever lighting. Here is everything you need to know about modern and contemporary furniture. In just five minutes!
Is modern furniture design the same as contemporary furniture?
Although used interchangeably to describe a very familiar aesthetic, modern interior design and contemporary design as mentioned above are two distinct categories that kind of look the same. I.e. a clean, crisp, composed vibe coupled with streamlined furniture characteristic of high-end salons and barbershops.
What you don’t realise is there is much more going on than meets the eye. See, both contemporary and modern interior design relies on three vital aspects for maximum effect. That is:
Vital Aspects of contemporary and modern interior design:
- Natural light: clever placement of mirrors, skylights, and furniture, incorporates light into the overall aesthetic. Thus, lighting should not be an afterthought!
- Colour: light and colour go hand in hand. The right colours brighten up your space without feeling overwhelming.
- Transparency: transparent furniture is both old and new, thus it will fit any era. (glass or transparent items)
What is the difference between modern furniture and contemporary salon furniture?
The term “modern furniture” is difficult to define because it describes 20th century furniture from a broad perspective. That’s why to some, anything that doesn’t look vintage is considered modern.
To avoid going into the intricacies of the ’80s to 90’s furniture politics, it’s best if we show by example.
The overriding principle behind modern furniture or style is… simplicity, no fussy adornments, uncluttered spaces, and clean lines. Consequently, modern furniture is characterized by:
- A neutral colour palette.
- Reflective surfaces such as chrome, glass, or steel.
- Wood and veneers
- Low horizontal furnishings with clean lines and fewer curves.
On the other hand, contemporary furniture is designed for looks, comfort and to save space. Thus, is characterized by:
- Natural, neutral or dark woods
- Light and airy
- Simple clean lines
- Minimalist design
Examples of contemporary furniture versus modern furniture
The main difference between modern furniture and contemporary furniture is, the contemporary style did not come out of a certain era, as opposed to modern furniture style that evolved in the 20th century. Consequently, whatever style is popular right now falls into the contemporary category.
Additionally, it is worth noting that the overall goal here is to make your business stand out, thus, you should not strive or go out of your way to make your place look modern or contemporary. I suggest you use this principle, “if it looks good, keep it, and match it!”
Modern furniture: wood and earthier elements
Modern organic style is a seamless marriage of modern-day furniture with fine lines, neutral colour palette, cosy tactile materials with a little hint of greenery. By ‘greenery’ I’m referring to indoor plants that bring the outdoors inside, make sense?
Contemporary furniture: it’s all about colours and minimalism
Black, white, and grey are your base colours that can be complemented with subtle hints of brown, blue, or whatever colour you deem worthy. Also, in contemporary design, white light is encouraged to create a unified look.
The debate to define contemporary furniture versus modern furniture is still on, so we ask, why not bring the two styles together to create an even better aesthetic?
Can you mix modern furniture and contemporary furniture?
Shopping for furniture is something that should be done with careful planning and lots of forethought. the first thing you have to decide is the dominating style you want. The fact that contemporary furniture and modern furniture are from different eras does not mean that you can’t mix them.
The idea is to pick a base style and use the other to complement the overall look!
For example, if you have a large salon workstation from a previous era, go for minimalist contemporary chairs to complete the look. You can create looks using new and secondhand salon furniture.
What details stand out?
Cohesion versus contrast both have their places, that means, you don’t want your salon furniture to look too different or too samey. Instead, what you want is balance… or an environment that feels well thought out.
Aesthetically, contemporary and modern furniture, look very similar. But there are elusive differences in colour, lines, textures, and materials used. All these differences can be brought together to create a hybrid of both styles.
Do you want harmony or contrast?
To create harmony, look for furniture pieces that look alike but not completely.
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Just like the barbershop above, create harmony by getting furniture pieces that don’t contrast to create a unified look.
On the other hand, use colour to create contrast or to make your space appear bigger.
If stuck, follow the black, grey, and white principle, where, you use said neutral colours and work your way up from there. Alternatively, you can distribute furniture from different eras equally throughout or keep your contemporaries on one side and the modern pieces on the other. You can even do this with awkwardly shaped salons!
Part 2: how to brighten up your space using contemporary and modern furniture
Most of the time a major renovation solves all your light needs, however, renovations cost plenty of money. Therefore, use a combination of modern furniture, contemporary furniture, art, light fixtures, mirrors, flooring, and curtains to get lighter in.
How do I make my space brighter?
Remove clutter and leave space beneath furniture
Depending on the colour, your floor either reflects light or absorbs it. Consequently, leaving enough legroom and spaces beneath furniture will serve to brighten up your space if the floor is the right colour. On the other hand, if your space is cluttered or floor is dull, your space too will look dull.
To get around this problem if the situation doesn’t allow renovations, go for lightly coloured rugs to add some texture and softness to the floor and to improve light quality.
The colours of the ‘sun’
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Reds, yellows, and oranges will brighten up any space if used appropriately.
However, if you go overboard, your space may end up being too bright or feel threatening. So, I suggest you paint areas near lighting sources brighter colours and contrast that with darker colours around workspaces.
Brighter art is better
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Placed at the right angle and complemented with the right furniture, a bright-coloured painting will not only add to the overall aesthetic of your place but it will also lighten it. See colours like yellow, blue, and red reflect light. Meaning, light bounces off your art and makes your space brighter.
Add plenty of mirrors and embrace white walls
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For maximum effect, mirrors should be placed near lighting sources. For example, a giant mirror strategically placed near a window or under a skylight will brighten up any dark room.
Additionally, when using mirrors, it is good practice to only use ambient lighting and to not place it facing the sun directly. Doing that will keep your room from becoming too bright.
Get rid of dark, heavy curtains
Dark heavy curtains or room dividers absorb light and create shade. Hence, we recommend light grey or beige curtains or ones that fit your aesthetic. If you run a salon from home, it can be difficult to find the right balance.
Watch where you aim your lights
Traditionally, bulbs and chandeliers are placed in the middle of the room. This setup might work for small rooms, but larger rooms need something extra. For example, aiming your lights at the wall or the ceiling makes your space feel warm, spacious, and cozy.
The point is, be creative with light placement.
How can I brighten up a room without natural light?
If your space doesn’t have access to natural light, you should:
- Paint the walls: bright orange, powder blue, soft grey, lavender, or any colour that goes well with artificial light.
- Oversized lamps: a chandelier or oversized lamp combined with oversized mirrors will create the illusion of natural light. For a better effect, go for dimmable halogen bulbs.
In the end, whether you go for modern furniture or contemporary furniture, what truly matters is the overall aesthetic you are trying to create or the story you are trying to tell. Consequently, don’t be afraid to mix things up, create a bold salon!
After all, it is your space you know best. My advice, make sure that your space is properly lit, your furniture fits in seamlessly, and that you have a good time at it!
What would you like to know about contemporary furniture and modern furniture? Tell us in the comments.