How to Nail Modern Design Basics

Think more is less? Your mantra is modern -- a straightforward style dreamed up in the mid 20th century within the walls of the German Bauhaus school of design.

Train your eye to tune in to the modern look, but be sure to refrain when you’re scoping the aisles of Ikea. Always strategically mix in contemporary elements so you won’t ever have to explain that no, the Brady Bunch is not your Friday night entertainment of choice. A few tips to get you started:

Lie Low. Furniture that sits lower to the ground – especially larger pieces like coffee tables, couches and beds – channel the modern aesthetic.

Keep it simple. Think furniture with fluid lines and soft curves. Jarring and sharp it is not.

Go Bold. The modern man went wild for fabrics with bold, geometric patterns in solid colors. You will too.

Teak Out. There’s a reason we don’t see much teak or vinyl anymore other than in 50s-themed restaurants. But back when vinyl was first mass-produced, designers were slapping it on any chair/bar stool /couch that needed covering. Both materials in extreme moderation add a playful (if kitschy) touch to any room.

Stay Grounded. Get in touch with your inner tree-hugger and use neutral, toned-down colors like avocado green, orange, and gold. Be careful -- go too granola and you’ll cross over to dowdy: Opt for charcoal grey over avocado green for a more updated look, or use neutrals in just your accessories or on one accent chair.

Get an Accent. If you can afford it, splurge on one key focal piece from a designer that is licensed to reissue original modern pieces. Check out Cartel (the British furniture manufacturer) or Design within Reach.

Nestpert Laura M. Stein is an accredited interior decorator and a member of the Canadian Decorators' Association (CDECA), a national organization of accredited interior decorators and designers.

-- The Nest Editors

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