Contemporary interiors emphasize linear lines and minimalism. Those seeking something with a bit more flair will find mid-century modern more visually attractive. In this blog, Adria Workshop will compare two home decor furniture and interior design styles: mid-century modern vs. contemporary. We will discuss the definition and the difference between the two styles and recommend which one is best for you.

See more: Differences Between Mid Century Modern vs. Scandinavian Style

The definition of modern vs mid-century modern vs contemporary style

People often use the words "modern" and "contemporary" interchangeably in everyday speech, but they have very different meanings. These two words create a huge amount of confusion between contemporary style and mid-century modern styles.

The use of bright colors and rounded shapes are the two most important parts of mid-century modern design. The contemporary style of interior design is from a time that has already passed, and it is minimalistic and simple, while the mid-century modern style is firmly rooted in the 1950s to 1970s and has a lot more detail to it. That’s why we are here to help you sort it out with the definition of each term.

Home decor living room of the mid-century modern
Home decor living room of the mid-century modern (Source: Internet)
Home decor living room of the contemporary style
Home decor living room of the contemporary style (Source: internet)

What is the modern design style?

The aesthetics of the modernism movement, which emerged in the 1900s and lasted until the 1950s, are referred to as the modern style. The popular style of modern interior design comes from the Bauhaus schools of design in Germany and the focus on simplicity and functionality in Scandinavia.

The modern style changed over time into mid-century modern in the 1950s and 1960s and postmodernism in the 1970s and 1980s. There are some differences between mid-century modern vs postmodern styles. Mid-century modern furniture features many pops of color and prioritizes functionality over aesthetics. On the other hand, postmodernism is the opposite of traditional modern design's focus on functionality. This is because postmodernism is more concerned with how things look than how they work.

See more:

modern interior design style-1
Modern design style living room (Source: internet)

What is the mid-century modern style?

Mid-century modern was a popular style of design in the 20th century. It is known for its focus on modern structure and design. During 1945–1975, the Bauhaus-inspired mid-century modern style dominated the world of interior decoration. After World War II, there was a rush of new ideas and technological progress, and people wanted to start over.

Mid-century modern architecture has clean lines and a mix of different materials. It puts function over decoration. There's a touch of nostalgia here, and the designers will not hesitate to use some bold and bright colors.

Read more:

mid century modern architecture color
Mid-century modern style home design (Source: internet)

What is contemporary interior design style?

The contemporary style is used to describe a style that emerged during the last century or so, at the very latest. The term "contemporary design" usually refers to what is popular and in style right now. It can be used to describe a wide range of styles that are influenced by European design. Given its dynamic nature, defining the style of contemporary design can be challenging.

Modern minimalist style is similar to mid-century modern and contemporary in some ways, but contemporary is more flexible and open to new ideas. Sustainability, comfort, and simple lines are some of the hallmarks of the contemporary aesthetic.


modern contemporary interior design
Contemporary interior design style (Source: internet)

What are the differences between mid-century modern vs contemporary style?

Times of influences

Mid-century modern design is based on nostalgia for the 1950s. On the other hand, contemporary design is all about making simplicity and minimalism work for today.

contemporary interior design bedroom
Bedroom in contemporary interior style (Source: internet)

Design concepts

Mid-century modern vs contemporary design concepts are very different. Mid-century modern has a lot more detail than modern interior design. Modern interior design is more simple.

Minimal materials and limited ornamentation are typical features of contemporary design. It favors a color scheme of soft, neutral colors like white, gray, and cream.

contemporary interior design living room-1
The difference between mid-century modern vs contemporary is design concepts (Source: internet).

Mid-century modern is considered modern design because it still values function over form but adds its own unique twist. The design's foundation in mid-century modern lies in providing comfort and utility. Because of this, most furniture in the 1950s was made from natural woods and metals because they were cheaper and easier to find. Mid-century modern also features bolder colors.

mid century modern vs contemporary-1
Most furniture in the Mid-century modern style was made from natural woods and metals (Source: Internet)


Many modern designers don't use textures in contemporary style home decor because they want to create a minimalist look. Instead, they use things like wood, plastic, and metal. These items are ideal if you're going for a minimalist aesthetic, as they don't take up much floor space and have clean, uncluttered lines.

mid century modern vs contemporary interior design living room
The distinction between mid-century modern and contemporary architecture is that the contemporary style is minimalist in appearance. (Source: internet).

The texture is frequently used in mid-century modern furniture design. Wood grains and woven patterns on furniture upholstery are two examples of this texture. Exposed legs are a hallmark of both modern and mid-century modern furniture because of the necessity of creating open floor plans.

The mid-century modern architecture uses many different textures in their home designs. (Source: internet)

Color schemes

The contemporary design principle is "less is more." This principle makes today's most popular interior design styles more lively, energetic and contrasting. Emphasis is put on a small number of high-quality pieces in muted colors like white and gray to give off an air of sophistication and exclusivity.

The mid-century modern style is known for using brighter colors, so these rooms are decorated in natural colors. The main colors used in mid-century modern design are yellow, warm red, orange, and some light green.

mid century modern vs contemporary architecture
Mid-century modern style is known for its bold colors. (Source: internet)

Geometric shapes and straight lines

Straight, uncluttered lines are essential to the contemporary aesthetic. If you decorate your home in a contemporary style, try to arrange pieces of furniture in straight horizontal or vertical lines. Adding some furniture can help you make soft, soothing shapes uniquely yours.

differences between mid century modern vs contemporary
Straight, uncluttered lines are essential to contemporary style. (Source: internet)

Comparing mid-century modern vs contemporary interiors, creative furniture placement is more encouraged in mid-century modern interiors. This layout makes use of a variety of lines and forms while keeping things simple. Try to create geometric designs while you work on them.

Levels of interior decorations

By putting an emphasis on simplicity and clarity, the contemporary architecture makes a statement about the need for these things in our complicated and messy world. Many contemporary designers avoid using decorations or embellishments in their work.

differences between mid century modern vs contemporary
The difference between mid-century modern vs contemporary is the level of interior decoration. (Source: internet)

On the other hand, a common theme in mid-century modern interior design is the use of more decorations. This is not too surprising because when the MCM style started after World War II, people wished for a brighter and fuller future. To decorate their homes in the mid-century modern style, people use a lot of brightly colored and different kinds of materials.

Materials of mid-century modern vs contemporary

Wood and metal will be used in each of the designs. The final touches, however, truly set mid-century modern vs contemporary works of art apart. Mid-century modern furniture usually has natural surfaces, but modern pieces often have coatings that reflect light to make it look like there is more space and that the design is timeless. Mid-Century Modern, however, often includes natural elements such as wood; furniture often includes graceful curves.

mid century modern vs contemporary style
Materials of mid-century modern vs contemporary (Source: internet).

What are the similarities between the Mid-Century Modern vs Contemporary Design?

While there are several differences between these two styles, there are three things that are similar, as we see below.

  • Same minimalistic style. Both styles use minimal pieces of furniture to leave a lot of space for more empty spaces.
  • Both are organized when arranging furniture. Both mid-century modern and contemporary styles use few pieces of furniture in each room, so the key to making them work is to put them in the right places.
  • Both give an open-space feel. After the furniture is put in position, the room seems open and spacious, making it ideal for unwinding after a busy day and is simple to keep tidy.
mid century modern vs contemporary design style
Similarities between the mid-century modern vs contemporary design (Source: internet).

Which home decor style is the best style for you?

Even with their distinctions, mid-century modern vs contemporary styles are both aimed at accomplishing the same goal: a clean, uncluttered appearance. It's not easy to decide between the two options because both styles are unique and have the potential to generate instant enchantment.

differences between mid century modern vs contemporary
Mid-century modern home design style (Source: internet)

Open floor plans, minimalist decor, low ceilings or roofs, large windows on the sides and back, and a focus on the outdoors are typical of homes from the mid-20th century.

There's a good chance that if you're pining for the versatile and elegant aesthetic, mid-century modern architecture and decor will be just up your alley. Mid-century modern is rooted in a romanticization of the 1950s. Objects from this era will persist for generations thanks to their thoughtful, well-designed construction. 

differences between mid century modern vs contemporary
Mid-century modern vs contemporary: Modern style is calm and unhurried, with an emphasis on well-thought-out structural and decorative elements. (Source: internet).

In contrast, if you're looking for a style you can switch up now and then, contemporary architecture and decor are good options. An imagined simplicity and minimalism characterize contemporary design for the present day. This style evolves and can be easily rearranged to create a new look.

What do you need for a mid-century modern or contemporary design?

Selecting furnishings and designing an interior can be challenging for many reasons. To make a choice, think about your available space, your personal finances, and your interests. Make the best decision for you and your house by considering the advice below.

  • Get home interior design inspiration from online resources. You can use websites like the blog of Adria Workshop to find a good layout that you can use.
  • Choose the perfect colors for your home.  When going for a mid-century style, you can choose more earthy colors, while whites and grays work well for a contemporary look. Use the 60-30-10 rule to choose the colors, which says that 60% of the main base color, 30% of the secondary color, and 10% of the accent color should be the main color.
  • Get suitable furniture.  Contemporary furniture, like dining tables and chairs, has sharp, straight lines. Mid-century furniture, on the other hand, has smooth, clean lines with soft angles and curves.
  • Choose the best rugs/carpets for either design. Contemporary rugs can come with symmetrical shapes or lines, while mid-century modern carpets are better in asymmetrical designs.
  • Pick the best lighting. Choose stylish floor and table lamps for mid-century modern lighting. For modern styles, choose lights that hang from the ceiling or are mounted on the wall.
mid century modern vs traditional
Choose a style to decorate your home between mid-century modern vs contemporary (Source: internet)

Last words

In this article, Adria Workshop has shown the difference between mid-century modern vs contemporary interior styles. No matter if the style is mid-century modern or modern/contemporary, the focus should be on finding the perfect balance between form and function that will make a perfect home design. If you want to get more decoration tips and home decor style ideas, remember to check out Adria Workshop’s blog.

See more home decor style ideas: