Simplicity Is Sophistication: Where Has Modernity Taken Interiors?

March 23, 2018

Living in the now is always subjective to those in the present when it comes to art and design. Here we are in the era of humanity, and yet, we still can’t decide what is ‘modern’. When it comes to interior design, the styles or categories of modern, chic, eclectic, contemporary and minimalist all get muddled up. They’re jumbled up almost on purpose because that’s the issue with modern anything. Surely you’re taking things from the past and putting a new twist on them or trying to make them better. Not so with interior design.

The decor is almost on a parallel trajectory with architecture in that designers of the new age are trying to actively distance themselves from their occupational ancestors. Modern design thinks of the future, with calculated lines and measurements that try to make a building practical; worrying about aesthetic appeal later. It seems like modern sophistication works to do both, kind of like having your cake and eating it. Just how has this ethos that so many designers adopt, affected the way our homes look now?

Simplicity beckons

The first thing you’ll see when you look at the modern home is going to be the shape of the exterior. Since the contemporary style is to incorporate straight lines into almost every single part of the house, homes are beginning to look boxier. No more so than Californian homes where many designers take on the appeals of strict proportions and very rigid shapes. One could argue that the modern architect is almost taught to love edges like a lost child. So what you see in the Hollywood Hills is a recalibration of what the brutalists and the minimalists both crave. And that quite frankly is simplicity.

However, this works out in some form for the home buyers, as the more straightforward a home is, the more room you have. It does take away the romance and articulate expression of what many in the contemporary and traditionalist and other older camps love. You would think that these homes would be priced lower than previous generations, but for some odd reason, simplicity comes with a high price tag.

Our little helpers

Think about what you mainly use from day to day in your home? It’s almost always going to be the chairs and tables. The modern edge design style has tried to make these two home items even more fundamental in their function. Now we see wide and long tables that offer one level. So for your coffee tables, they’ll only be keeping to the strict discipline of one surface area. This way of thinking could be interpreted as chic and niche elegance. Coupled with this modern coffee tables are lower in stature and sink lower to the ground.

One might determine this to be impractical, which you can safely surmise to be true. But that’s the statement these designers are trying to make. It seems as though the shapes and lack of elaborate layers to the stance of the tables are expressing the rebellious voice of a postmodern world. The filters through to the dining tables too. If you look carefully at the modern interpretations of what this piece of furniture should be it’s clear to see that simplicity is being seen as sophistication. Our little helpers are somehow becoming less useful but being seen as more dramatic and fresh. The materials that are used can somewhat counterbalance all of this. Single-piece tempered glass round dining tables are becoming more and more popular. Wood and glass are merging to make room tables also.

Where it works most

The kitchen is perhaps one of it not the best room for modern interior design. Without a shadow of a doubt, less is definitely more when it comes to the kitchen. When you’re cooking, all you want to focus on is the action of cooking, not the fittings. You want to be able to have straight lines everywhere because then this gives you more room to chop, peel, boil and cut. On the other hand, it’s also the one room that has to be robust and strong to withstand the elements and rough usage.

As what you could have already connected by now, modern designs mean modern materials. Getting a kitchen makeover to achieve these principles is entirely within anyone’s remit. Island-styles have taken off, and they won’t be landing down anytime soon. The counter can be host to storage drawers to keep flooring space freely available. At the same time, you can have them in brand new work surfaces to protect them. Seamless surfaces drum the beat of modern design more than any other kitchen feature.

Straight and edgy, the grant you large open space on top while also taking up the minimal room around the rims. Waterfall ends give the island a sleek, sturdy look which is exactly what modernists crave. Of course, breakfast counters are a must as you can eat or feed your family immediately and exude the feeling of being so close to the cooking zone. Something anyone of any particular style bias can get onboard with is the practical application of hardwood flooring. Now the surfaces are coated with a slip-resistant material yet don’t interrupt the smoothness of the wood.  

Uncontrollable uncontrolled

Modern lighting styles are sublime. Even the most ardent traditionalist cannot overcome how modern lamps for homes have taken on a new artistic verve. It seems like for this part of the decor, or rather accessories, the art and design departments of the world’s leading universities have accepted they cannot control light. Now we see that to truly stand up to the straight lines of modern rudimentary outlook; lighting stands, supports and lamps are coming to the rescue. The practical office and or desk lamps been given a futuristic makeover and quite rightly. Rather than purely opt for the stiff posterior of postmodern influence, the shapes are now curvy.

Due to the base of desk lamps being made heavier yet remaining slim, the overarching stem and head which houses the bulb can be extended. Put into awkward positions, now light can be played with and the beams allowed to dance. Again as you’d expect, metal and wooden lamps are most widely spread but even glass is making a name for itself in this area of present-day styling. Either partially or completely made out of tempered see-through glass, lamps are being looped, twirled, spiralled, sphered and welcomingly made boutique also.

Left to rest?

The lounge room is something that is most precious to the home. The living room is much like the workhorse of the house. It’s the greeting phase that the lounge room supersedes. You’re no longer a stranger to the person you invite to the lounge, nor are you afraid of them judging your home by face value. So has the lounge room been left to rest? Well if you’re asking that by referring to the traditional sense of the room which was a place to come relax in a decor that was more ‘you’ then sadly no.

Lounging has taken on the modern interior decor style also. Now we see unbroken lines being given the time of day in overabundance. Indeed you could argue that surely this provides more room to lie back, stretch out or to become physically aloof in any manner. This is the great thing about the lounge room that perhaps didn’t need changing as you could be exuberant in your love of traditional and contemporary furniture.

The pieces you chose didn’t have to be of a tamed size; you could be as lavish and domineering as you wanted. The classic chaise lounge chair could be as large as you wanted. It was still intricate, possessed articulate hand-carved shapes, characters and earthly life housed in its design. Now what you have it just another version of the living room. Large corner sofas, cabinets that stand to attention and a wild obsession with the colour white. For those who love contemporary and traditional interiors, the lounge is the biggest loss to simplicity of modern sophistication.


In all humble honesty, we all have our own opinion on what looks great and what feels great. Many in the younger generation see traditional interiors as begone eras which they cannot relate to. Interior design is going through a transformation. The use of complex materials is fantastic, but are we being a little too unimaginative with the shapes?


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