Modern style has been around for close to a century and is still a favorite among those who appreciate sophisticated and minimal design. One thing that makes modern style timeless is the overriding principle that form follows function. In other words, the foundation of modern design is practicality over style.

Modernism began in the 1880s as a philosophical movement to advance progressive and spontaneous thought, which was at odds with the structured beliefs carried over from the Age of Enlightenment. Soon the movement began to affect all aspects of life including art, music, literature, architecture and interior design. Modern interior style began at the turn of the 20th century and peaked in the early 1960s.

Modern interior design grew in several directions, making it difficult to define as a singular style. Simply stated, it refers to the impact of the modern art movement on home interiors. Several key characteristics weave themselves through all modern designu2014minimal spaces, the use of plastics, metals and woods, geometric and organic shapes and bold accent color.

Art Deco
Art Deco style, adopted by architects and designers worldwide, grew out of the stylized Art Nouveau movement. The optimistic and frivolous Roaring Twenties introduced the world to jazz, flappers, radio, mechanized industry, skyscrapers, modern travelu2026and Art Deco. Born during the heyday of the 1920s, it survived the Depression and lasted until the beginning of World War II.

Art Decou2019s luxurious whites, gleaming metallics, dramatic monochromatic schemes and tropical colors varied greatly based on geographic location. At the same time interior color was coming into its own thanks to advances in paint and fabric manufacturing. Art Deco style architecture and furniture featured symmetry, parallel lines, grand curves and a streamlined profile with smooth, sleek surfaces.

Geometric patterns could be seen in everything from textiles to metalwork and art glass. Poplar designs included harlequin, fan motifs, herringbone and chevron. Newly invented Bakelite plastic was used in home accessories and furniture as an inexpensive alternative to natural materials like ebony, marble and tortoiseshell.

Bauhaus style began as a school of art, architecture and design. Walter Gropius, the father of Bauhaus, founded the German school as the First World War was nearing an end. His mantra of form following function emerged from the Arts and Crafts movement, which was hitting its stride at the same time. As with Art Deco, new materials, developments in manufacturing and mass production of furniture played a big role in creating Bauhaus interior style.

Bauhaus was all about classical shape minus ornamentation. It was an extremely efficient, functional and lean style. Another core Bauhaus concept was keeping material and design real. This is evident in the furniture design of the time. An iconic example is the Barcelona chairu2014epitomizing truth in materials and design with its sleek tubular steel frame and leather upholstery.

Curtains or blinds, like walls were typically white and had no embellishments. Minimal window treatments allowed abundant natural light to illuminate open spaces. Colorful and graphic abstracts graced the walls, pillows and area rugs. Although accessories were based on organic forms and natural textures, they were made with the latest materials and technologies. Wood and stone accents were sometimes used to temper the modern feel.

A buildingu2019s bonesu2014structural beams, weathered wood, concrete floors, brick walls, HVAC ducts, electrical lines and plumbing pipes serve as the foundation of industrial design. This style really took off when abandoned factories and warehouses of the late 19th and early 20th centuries were converted into residential lofts in the 1990s. The raw architecture and open concept spaces are still highly coveted among urban dwellers.

Whether you live in a loft or not, you can incorporate these industrial design elements into your home. The popularity of this deconstructed style lies in its total lack of pretense and high regard for reclaimed objects. The blue-collar quality of industrial style is easily relatable.

This interior style shuns large expanses of bright, bold color. It instead opts for a mix of neutral tones to warm up cold, industrial elements. Shades of taupe look great with pops of white or black and amp up the modern vibe. Industrial pendant lighting and tripod floor lamps help light lofty spaces.

Transform ordinary drywall by installing weathered brick veneer. Large-scale wall art or gallery groupings fill expansive walls. Counteract hard surfaces with modern upholstered seating. Polished concrete and salvaged wood are ideal flooring finishes for the industrial look. Use metals, woods and recycled glass for tables and counter surfaces.

Mid-Century Modern
Mid-century modern style is a representation of advancements in modern design, architecture and urban planning from the 1930s through the mid-1960s. After World War II, suburban tract homes sprung up across America featuring picture windows, spacious floor plans and easy access to the outdoors.

This new residential architecture inspired the furnishings and interior design of mid-century modern style. Simple lines, organic curves and contrasting materials characterize this design movement. Furniture pieces were low profile and showcased the beauty of natural wood and metals.

Graphic patterns and a varied palette of nontraditional colors such as turquoise, orange, citrus, pink, mustard and avocado completed new furniture materials like fiberglass, Lucite, Plexiglass, plywood, chrome and stainless. Popular accessories included starburst wall clocks, Sputnik chandeliers, shag rugs, ceramic animal statuary and large porcelain lamp vases.

Danish modern furniture from the post war period is immediately recognizable for its simple construction, leggy profile and sleek lines. From teakwood tables and tufted sofas to stackable chairs and storage consoles, this furniture style is most closely associated with mid-century modern interior design.