Looking at the Differences Between Traditional and Modern Interior Design

Most interior design can be broken down into two categories – modern and traditional, and then broken down further into more detailed as per Décor Aid interior design. In the world of traditional vs modern, it can be easy to point to something— an object, piece of art, or piece of furniture, and tell which category it falls under, but do you know why? Here’s a closer look at the differences between modern interior designs and traditional interior design so that you can have a better understanding the next time you decide to decorate.

Traditional and Modern Interior Design
Traditional and Modern Interior Design

Traditional vs Modern Colors

Modern and traditional interior design often feature similar colours, but with different tints. Modern interior designs usually feature a cold palette of neutrals, mainly focusing on black, white, and grey, with few accent colours that stand out against them. You’ll notice that many pieces of furniture feature white bases, whether they be on a coffee table, sofa, or even a fireplace. This white acts as a blank slate so that other colours are able to feature more prominently, even though there are fewer.

Traditional colours are warmer and more refined, falling into the beige, tan, and ivory family. While these colours similarly provide a base, you likely will not find pops of loud colours to counter them. Instead, traditional interior design sticks to an overall similar colour palette without much variation, except for the occasional dark wood bases in furniture.

Traditional vs Modern Furniture Silhouettes

Modern silhouettes are quite divisive despite being within the same style of interior design. They are either more geometric and angular or more light and curved. This can be found in styles like mid-century modern, that normally feature squared tables and angular legs, but also have chairs that are smooth and curved. The silhouettes will however always be minimal: they’ll be sleek, simple, and look like they’re lighter than air. Raised surfaces also feature prominently, with most pieces being propped up on tall, thin legs.

Traditional silhouettes also usually feature straight lines, but pieces appear far heavier. Traditional silhouettes can appear quite bulky and heavy, where you are able to see the weightiness without touching a single piece. Additionally, the furniture oftentimes touches the floor; couches, coffee tables, and console tables will be low to the ground instead of raised on thin legs.

Traditional vs Modern Accessories

Modern interior design
Modern interior design

Accessories also differ significantly between modern interior designs and traditional interior design, from the individual look to the way they are used. Modern accessories typically are placed in a way that provides more open space or is clustered into small bunches to maximize space between areas. They can be trendier interior decoration with more minimal silhouettes, like candles, vases, abstract sculptures, and more. Modern art also tends to feature geometric shapes on a white background, further emphasizing the feeling of open space.

Traditional interior design loves to use true antique pieces in its interior decoration. Ornate, detailed vases, sculptures, or paintings provide callbacks to earlier eras, especially since the furniture is better suited to match it. Placement also tends to be more cluttered, with interior decoration spread around the whole room evenly, oftentimes leaving no surface empty. You’ll also notice that all art, paintings, mirrors, or photos consistently feature thick, ornate frames.

Traditional vs Modern Materials

Modern interior materials
Modern interior materials

The materials featured in each type of interior design also differs dramatically. Modern interior designs typically like light, reflective surfaces that stand out, like lucite or chrome. You’ll find that many coffee tables or end tables act as accent pieces themselves because of the striking materials they’re made of. When wood is used, it also tends to be of the lighter variety, adding to the physical lightness that is featured throughout the space. Modern interior designs love newer materials, like plastics and metals that appear more edgy and angular, and bring a sense of uniqueness.

On the other hand, traditional interior design heavily features woods that appear in dark, heavy stains and other more classic materials like stone and brick. It would not be out of the ordinary to see all these different textures within one room. Glass acts as the lighter and brighter material to open up space, whereas modern interior designs have substituted lucite instead. Fabrics will be thick, heavy, and woven for comfort and density.


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