Answers to Modern Interior Design & Lighting Questions

Published By: Shades Of Light

Date Published:

Last Updated: December 06, 2021

Vibrant & Glamorous catalog modern living room design

Cluttered rooms, tired décor, and dated light fixtures dragging you down? We’ve all been spending more time at home lately, and if you’re anything like us, you’ve looked around at least once over the past year and wondered, Where did all this stuff come from? Has this room always been so dark? and Who decided this chandelier was a good idea?

We get it. The more time we spend indoors, the more we long for and admire a beautifully serene modern design concept. Open spaces, soothing colors, and unfussy décor make modern interior design attractive to just about any DIY decorator. Fortunately, the traits that make modern interior design so trendy also make it easy for anyone to create a sleek modern space, with the right tips and tricks. If your home (or just a single room!) is in desperate need of a modern makeover, these modern room ideas will keep you on track and on-trend.

Understanding Modern Design: The Basics

What’s the Difference Between Modern & Contemporary Style?

While ‘Modern Design’ and ‘Contemporary Design’ have a lot of overlap, they are not identical styles or concepts. It may sound a touch counterintuitive, but modern design was birthed over a hundred years ago! In design spaces, the word ‘modern’ refers to design trends from a distinct period of time beginning around the start of the 20th century and ending roughly around the 1970s and 80s with the rise of postmodernism. Modern design embraces minimalism, clean lines, reflective surfaces, and natural materials, and allows form to flow from function. Modern design trends reached a peak around the 1950s with incredibly popular Mid-Century Modern décor, which is still fairly prevalent in current design trends.

Contemporary design, on the other hand, is a much more fluid concept. Contemporary design is all about the now and refers to the most recent trends and styles in décor. Contemporary design is always evolving, meaning it is a perfect fit for decorators who like to update their décor often and stay on the cutting edge of style.

Current contemporary design, however, takes many cues from the modern design tradition. Both styles embrace minimalism, simple color pallets, natural woods, and bright metallics. Modern design— especially mid-century modern design— tends to make more use of accent colors in bold retro red and orange, while contemporary décor has a more neutral black and white color scheme. Both are airy, inviting, and elegantly simple, hence their evergreen popularity in design trends.

What Makes a Light Fixture Modern?

The word ‘modern’ can have two separate meanings concerning light fixtures. A modern light may be a light that aesthetically matches modern design concepts. However, sometimes ‘modern’ may also be used to describe a light that uses the most recent lighting technologies, like LED lamps, color, and brightness adjustability, and integrated smart functionalities that link with other smart home gadgets.

From a purely aesthetic standpoint, a modern light fixture is usually simple in shape, features bold straight or curved lines, and is made from bright, reflective materials like glass, chrome, and polished nickel (although black and brass finishes are also used to beautiful effect). These light fixtures will often have a minimalist or futuristic feel to them that can be quite striking.

Black vintage steel chandelier with glass shade bulbs Gold finish geometric Young House Love Equilateral Pendant

In many cases, a light will be both modern in design and technological innovation! LED arrays are smaller and more versatile in shape than traditional incandescent lamping. For this reason, they have expanded many available shapes and designs in lighting, leading to slimmer, simpler styles that help underscore the functional minimalist theme of modern decor.

How Do You Build a Modern Design Concept?

When styling a room with modern design inspiration, aim to embrace simplicity. Clean, straight lines in modern furniture and lighting will accent an airy feel essential to modern style. Simple colors— black and white and calming neutrals— create a soothing backdrop and allow the occasional bold accent color to truly pop. Clear glass, chrome, and polished nickel will add touches of that futuristic feel modern design is known for, and bringing in natural wood tones will add warmth and comfort to this understated aesthetic. This style is uncluttered and trimmed down to the bare essentials, so keep surfaces clean and move shelves packed with decorative knick-knacks and tchotchkes to another room.

Modern Light Fixture & Ceiling Fan Trends: What’s in Style Now?

While the basics of modern room design tend to stay consistent, the particulars can shift with current trends. Today, modern rooms feature bold geometric shapes like globe shade pendants or angular wire frame ceiling lights, with airy finishes of clear glass or metal accents and frames. Eco-friendly LED fixtures make up a large portion of these trendy lights and some offer customization of light intensity, color, and/or color temp so you can adjust your light design exactly to your liking.

Modern Hanging Light Trends

Chandeliers and Lanterns

Brushed nickel Modern Balance Beam LED Chandelier Modern dimmable Harmony Globes Island Chandelier Modern dimmable Harrington Lantern Chandelier Large

Modern hanging lights make dramatic statements with minimalist designs. Modern chandeliers with rectangle and square frames in black, brass, or chrome finishes are super trendy options that simplify styling the rest of the room since they tend toward uncomplicated, unfussy shapes. For a more striking option, mid-century modern chandeliers often feature globe-shaped elements and mixed finishes that are sure to wow.


Scandinavian Large Mod Globe Pendant Modern black steel Bentlee Pendant

Modern pendant lights can be just as striking as chandeliers or lanterns, but these fixtures often have a smaller footprint, making them ideal for petite spaces, breakfast and reading nooks, or hung in multiples over vanities or kitchen islands. Globe pendant lights have a futuristic air and can help soften sharp angles in other décor elements. Clear glass shade pendants make a room feel more open and spacious. The right finish or mixed-metal accent can take a simple pendant design to a new level of style. Look for LED pendant lights, or install LED bulbs in fixtures with medium- or candle-base bulb sockets to make any fixture more energy efficient.

Modern Wall Sconce Trends

Modern LED metal Sandhur Sconce Polished chrome modern Ashley Bath Sconce

Black sconces, glass sconces, and chrome sconces are all staples of modern wall light design. As with hanging fixtures, modern sconces tend toward geometric and minimalist shapes. Simple silhouettes mean these fixtures can be as striking or as unobtrusive as you’d like depending on what décor they are paired.

Modern Vanity Lighting Trends

Metal Modern Bar Vanity Light – Small Metal T Bar Taper Vanity Light – 3 Light

When selecting vanity lights for a modern bathroom or powder room, look for geometric silhouettes and complementary finishes. Bar vanity lights are sleek, simple options that often include integrated LED arrays and will give any bathroom a modern facelift. Glass vanity lights will give your room an uncluttered feel and are easy to match with existing décor.

Modern Ceiling Light Trends

Dimmable linen modern Slim Shade Ceiling Light – Small Damp rated modern Classic Dome Metal Ceiling Light

Modern ceiling lights make the most of slim profiles with sleek designs and minimalist accents; LED ceiling lights can be particularly thin and are well suited to smaller spaces or rooms that need more light in addition to more dramatic fixtures. Brass and gold ceiling lights are highly trendy and can add a spark of glamour to a streamlined space.

Modern Ceiling Fan Trends

44” Low Profile Indoor / Outdoor Ceiling Fan 60” Indoor / Outdoor Metal and Wood Ceiling Fan

Ceiling fans for modern rooms can serve as a bold and breathtaking focal point. Minimalist ceiling fans in solid finishes like white, black, or chrome often have a futuristic style typical of edgy modern décor. Choose LED light kits for energy-efficient ceiling fans, and low-profile ceiling fans for low ceilings or small spaces.

Modern Floor & Table Lamp Trends

If you need portable lighting for your room, modern floor lamps and contemporary table lamps are the solution. Adjustable arc floor lamps serve as striking décor pieces and cast a wide light spread over seating areas.

Linen Modern Shade Single Light Arc Floor Lamp with concrete base

Floor lamps with end tables attached save space while bringing extra surface area into your room.

Modern adjustable Spotlight End Table Floor Lamp

Concrete table lamps or clear glass table lamps bring interest with unexpected and attention-grabbing materials.

Clear glass modern Marlon Table Lamp

The shape of cylinder table lamps can help soften other angular room features. Choose fixtures in black, chrome, or brass, and shades in neutral colors to accent your modern decor.

Modern concrete cylinder table lamp

Modern Design Concepts: Ideas by Room

Modern Living Room Ideas

Modern living room design from Distinguished Dapper catalog Global Grandeur Modern Living Room Design

Uncluttered comfort is the goal when styling a modern, minimalist, or open concept living room. Embrace your inner minimalist and choose modern living room paint colors in white or neutrals; keep bold colors like red and orange to accent décor, or to one or two walls to add a bright pop of style. Modern sofas and modern loveseats should be comfortable and understated, generally in one solid color, leaving you room to add avant-garde or edgy modern accent chairs without overwhelming the space. Modern rugs and modern wall décor can skew either way depending on the other furniture in your room; stark, abstract lines and designs make a stylish statement, while cushy materials or gentle shapes can soften sharp and striking aspects of your complementary décor. Modern lights for living rooms should be installed on dimmers and should have LED lamps whenever possible; they’re more energy-efficient, and the customization greatly enhances the end experience!

Modern Kitchen Ideas

Modern Young House Love Metal Convertible Pendants in a kitchen

Young House Love Metal Convertible Pendants over a Modern Kitchen Island

When styling a modern kitchen, allow the function of the room to influence your décor. Keep countertops clear and uncluttered, choose simple light fixtures that don’t obstruct the view, and embrace a monochromatic color scheme. Open-plan kitchens pair well with kitchen island lighting that features straight lines and clear glass. Modern cabinet colors like white or light woods enhance a clean aesthetic. Add color with a modern kitchen runner rug; the right rug can change the feel of a room, so swapping out the runner from season to season or year to year is a great way to keep your space feeling fresh without having to commit to an entire kitchen reno.

Modern Dining Room Ideas

Modern glam dining room design in Eclectic Glamour catalog Modern minimalist dining room design Sophisticated Neutrals catalog

Modern dining rooms are perfect for mixing modern style with a touch of glamor. Choose modern dining room chandeliers in warm gold and brass finishes and pair them with mid-century dining tables and armless modern dining chairs to soften the modern aesthetic and create a space perfect for bonding with family and chatting with friends. Dining room wall art with neutral colors and soft abstract subjects, or oversized mirrors or wall hangings, are brilliant finishing touches for this calming and comfortable room.

Modern Bathroom Ideas

Modern bathroom vanity light design over double sink Modern bathroom lighting design in Vibrant Glamorous catalog

Bathrooms naturally lend themselves to modern designs, and so are one of the simpler rooms to style in this aesthetic. Choose modern bathroom lights and modern vanity lights with bright, reflective finishes, and pair them with modern vanity mirrors with strikingly simple shapes. A modern accent wall in a different color or built from a different material than the rest of the bathroom will help draw your décor together and create a big impact without overwhelming the space.

Quick & Easy Modern Design Update Ideas

If a full modern home renovation isn’t in the cards, you can still incorporate elements of modern interior design into your home without breaking the bank. If you’re decorating on a budget, these quick tricks and tips can make your space feel brand new.

Replace an outdated centerpiece light fixture such as a dining room or foyer chandelier

Dated, dim, or dingy light fixtures can drag down even the most beautifully appointed room. Replacing a dining table, kitchen island, or entryway statement light is a simple change that can make your room look brand new. As a bonus, new chandeliers, especially ones equipped with LED lamps, are often more energy-efficient and budget-friendly.

Modernize a floor or table lamp with a new lamp shade

The right or wrong lamp shade can make or break any lamp look, and the shade will often show signs of age or wear long before the lamp itself. If your lamps are looking lackluster, replacing the shade is an easy way to breathe new life into tired fixtures. Color, shape, and fabric all effect the style of a lampshade, so if your lamps need a refresh, you can play with all three elements to create the look and style you like. For modern rooms, look for shades with geometric shapes and straight lines, like drum and cylinder shades, or square and rectangular shades. Avoid more traditional styles like bell shapes or pleated fabric. White and neutral colors are always at home in a modern color scheme, but don’t be afraid to experiment with a bold accent color now and again!

Switch up your area rug or accent rug to a more modern design

Nothing ties a room together quite like the perfect area rug! Accent rugs are a great way to dress up drab carpeting and you can keep your décor fresh by replacing worn-out rugs with new pieces in modern colors and designs. Area rugs can also be used to stunning effect to create tailored spaces within bigger rooms, especially in apartments or home rentals that can’t be altered. For example, use a large area rug to group a sofa, armchair, TV, and coffee table and create a lovely area to lounge with family and friends. In the same room, use another smaller area rug beneath an armchair and swing arm light to create a perfectly cozy reading nook! Look for geometric patterns and soft neutral colors to maintain that chic modern aesthetic.

Add pops of modern color to a neutral or monochromatic space

Modern color palettes are generally monochromatic, in shades of white and neutral with the occasional pop of color or black accent thrown in. Create a monochrome base with walls, carpet, and large furniture pieces in matching colors, and then use accent decor like accent furniture, rugs, lampshades, throw pillows and blankets, and wall art to bring bursts of color into your room. These items are easily updated so your space always feels on-trend, and you can pick new colors to style the space around without having to commit to an entire room re-do.

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