5 Key Elements of Modern Interior Design

5 Key Elements of Modern Interior Design

How many times have you watched one of those interior design shows on HGTV and heard the term modern interior design or something like it? I bet you could make a pretty intoxicating drinking game out of it. Everyone *thinks* they know what modern means but I’m not sure we’re all on the same page.

The term modern can range in meaning from a super-stark black metal and cold cement square home in the hip part of town to an updated twist on Mid-Century stylings or even a fresh take on a “Farmhouse” aesthetic. At the end of the day, modern really exists in the eye of the beholder, but there are several elements that I think make interior design modern in 2018. So here are my highlights of the 5 key elements of modern interior design:[vc_single_image image=”1894″ img_size=”360×570″ onclick=”custom_link” img_link_target=”_blank”]

Using Color to Evoke Various Moods

Color always tells a story, appealing to different moods and feelings. Modern homes use sophisticated color palettes to create an atmosphere within different spaces. There are no specific colors associated with modern design; homeowners are free to choose the hues that move them.

The only real rule is that spaces should not be—borrowing a phrase from Project Runway—too “matchy-matchy.” Unusual color combinations, such as soft blues and grays paired with striking ochre, lend a fresh feel to room decor.

Modern homeowners also tend to avoid the tans and creams that were so popular throughout the 80s and 90s. Instead, they opt for muted grays, whites or even blacks and navys that can serve as neutrals. Generally, they embrace bold colors, even if only in accents, like throw pillows or trims. But aside from those basics, it’s anything goes![vc_single_image image=”1895″ img_size=”570×360″ onclick=”custom_link” img_link_target=”_blank”]

Tying in Texture and Materials

Soft or hard, rough or smooth—texture also informs the overall ambience of a space. A delicate gauzy curtain communicates different emotions than a canvas roman shade. A rattan lounge chair feels distinct from a velvet wingback. Choosing the right textures – and ensuring they all work together – is an important undertaking when it comes to modern design.

Modern home designers often gravitate toward organic elements like live edge and burled wood furniture pieces. These can add a sense of warmth and a more grounded feeling to a room while still keeping it modern. But a little wood can go a long way and it’s important not to go overboard. Woods pair well with both warm-toned neutrals and bold colors. Be sure to mix some “soft” in with your “hard”.

Sleek accent pieces with clean lines and bold patterns in unexpected places like wallpaper, floor tile and backsplashes are fun, modern applications. Modern statement art also instantly lends an au courant look. But be sure to mix any super-busy patterns with solid colors so that your eyes have something to land on.

Refined elements such as glass or marble, or upscale industrial textures—exposed brick and unpolished steel are all hot right now but again, mix these in with some warm tones so your space doesn’t feel uninviting or cold.

While you don’t have to adhere strictly to these textures, examining the materials in your surroundings will help give you inspiration for your designs.[vc_single_image image=”1896″ img_size=”570×360″ onclick=”custom_link” img_link_target=”_blank”]

Examining Shape and Lines of Furniture and Other Elements

Closely related to texture is a piece’s shape and its lines. Shape is just what it sounds like. Some spaces may call for soft, curvy shapes (in fact, this is a big trend in 2018), while others favor angular, square shapes, or even geometric patterns. Modern design tends to lean toward more clean lines but there are some more organic interpretations of this that still feel modern.

The term “lines” speaks more to an item’s outline. Does your sofa have crisp, unornamented lines? Do you favor open, unadorned cabinets? These are what designers refer to as clean lines. However, if you tend toward cushioned chairs and organic shapes, such as a wood slice table, you may be a fan of relaxed lines. While every homeowner is drawn to different forms, generally, a blend of both relaxed and clean lines creates a sense of overall harmony.[vc_single_image image=”1897″ img_size=”570×360″ onclick=”custom_link” img_link_target=”_blank”]

Bringing in Natural Light and Openness

Open designs that flow from one space to the next are very much in vogue right now. Modern designers strive to open up interiors to create a sense of space and expansiveness in a home. Open interiors also allow homeowners to take maximum advantage of the natural light in their space, since sunlight isn’t blocked by doors and walls.

Along the same line, a project may include plans to install new, larger windows to provide even more natural light. In some homes, these appear as window walls, large french doors, or even bifold sliding glass doors that give homeowners unobstructed access to natural light and offer a way to bring the outdoors in—in a big way.[vc_single_image image=”1898″ img_size=”360×570″ onclick=”custom_link” img_link_target=”_blank”]

Adding Tension Between Industrial and Natural Elements

In modern interior design, it’s not unusual to see a mixture of different elements: rustic wood shelving paired with metallic light fixtures, for instance, or a faux sheep skinned chair with a mid century metal frame.

The gritty, sharp industrial elements of seasons past have given way to softer elements and fixtures. But blending these two styles creates tension and generates interest throughout the space.


Your personal aesthetic should always prevail when making these sorts of design choices. Of course, that can be difficult when you’re not sure exactly what that is. For help defining your personal style—and incorporating it into your home—contact us at J.Fisher Interiors for a consultation. We’re here to make your modern interior design dreams a reality!


J.Fisher Interiors’ studio is located in east Austin. To schedule your consultation appointment, please fill out the contact form or call us at 512.954.0904. We would love to hear from you!

Design Consultation

J.Fisher Interiors’ studio is located in east Austin. To schedule your consultation appointment, please fill out the contact form or call us at 512.954.0904. We would love to hear from you!