20 Tips for Decorating a Modern Primary Bedroom

Contemporary vs. Modern

Many people use the words “contemporary” and “modern” interchangeably, but they are not the same. Modern refers to a particular style. On the other hand, contemporary refers to the styles in vogue at that time, and so “contemporary” is a fluid, ever-changing concept.

Form Follows Function

The modernism movement embraced the concept, “Form follows function,” meaning that the most important aspect of a piece of furniture (or space) is its intended use rather than its appearance. In other words, appearance is secondary to function.

Mid-century Modern

By far the most popular variation of modern style is what’s commonly referred to as mid-century modern, or MCM. Created in the United States during the 1920s and 1930s, MCM reached the pinnacle of popularity during the 1950s and 1960s, practically defining the decorating style of those decades.

Modern Color Schemes

Traditionally, the modern color scheme is neutral: Various shades of brown, cream, tan, black, gray, and white predominate. Early Bauhaus designers used small touches of red, yellow, or blue as accents. As the style matured, neutrals remained the primary palette, but the use of bright, cheery accent colors became more common.

Natural Materials

Modern and midcentury modern decor embrace natural materials, particularly wood, as seen in the primary bedroom shown here. However, the use of plastics and chrome is an integral part of the MCM look, adding the color, shine, and celebration of mass-produced things that are typical of this style.

Geometric Patterns

Clean-lined geometric patterns are prized in the modern style. “Atomic” designs are an especially fun touch in a midcentury modern bedroom. The combination of color and shape is artistic yet functional.

Spotlight on Art

Fussy knickknacks, unnecessary collectibles, and general clutter are nowhere to be seen in the modern bedroom. Instead, this style spotlights artwork, especially large paintings, posters, or prints on the walls. If you can overlay a gorgeous painting over a patterned wall like the room shown here, even better.

Scandinavian Modern

An offshoot of midcentury modern, Scandinavian modern embraces a similar clean, streamlined, and functional look but tends to use white far more than the other neutrals, particularly on the floors and walls.

Raised Furniture

One thing you’ll see a lot of on midcentury modern furniture are legs, particularly metal hairpin or simple wooden dowel legs. The raised profile of MCM furniture is characteristic of the airy openness of the style and makes these pieces especially well-suited to small rooms.

Bright Accents

While a subdued color scheme is a hallmark of modern décor, pops of bright accent color keep it from being lifeless. Red and orange are especially popular as accents, although any favorite color can play the part. The jewel toned green drapes look bright in this neutral color scheme room.

Versatility and Flexibility

Modern style is versatile enough to work with just about anyone's needs. Create a bedroom that works for you; after all, functionality is a basic theme of modernism. This designer incorporated a small work area in this modern bedroom.

Added Interest

Despite the simple lines, neutral colors, and lack of accessories in the typical modern bedroom, the look isn't at all boring or sterile. Just one special touch, such as the dandelion light fixture in this room, is all it takes to add interest.

Light and Airy

The modern style is not one for clutter or lots of furniture. Instead, a light, airy vibe adds to the overall clean and simple appearance. Including only specific items that play a distinct role highlight what is truly important, and will be essential in helping you keep your things spacious and minimal.

Polished Surfaces

For the most part, surfaces in a modern room are smooth and often shiny. Polished floors, lacquered or highly polished furniture, accents of metal—especially chrome—and glass all add to the clean, modern vibe.

A Show of Personality

Whatever your decorating style, feel free to have some fun adding your own touches to the mix. An array of prints, a folded favorite quilt, a souvenir basket holding a potted plant—little changes can make the biggest difference in a modern space.

Multi-Purpose Furniture

Furniture that serves more than one purpose screams modern design. Pieces like a bench with storage space at the foot of the bed or a bed frame with built-in floating shelves to serve as side tables fit the modern look perfectly.

Serene Modern Style

The soft colors, simple lines, and lack of clutter give the modern style a calming, relaxed vibe, making it an excellent choice for the primary bedroom.

Angular Light Fixtures

Although midcentury modern design is mostly clean and without excessive ornamentation, one exception to that rule is the use of angular or unusual light fixtures, particularly “atomic” styled fixtures, as seen in the beachy modern bedroom from Amy Lau Design shown here.

Minimalist Primary Bedroom

Minimalism is similar to modern design in that it emphasizes a spotless, simple look without a lot of adornment. Often, midcentury modern furniture fits well into this “less is more” decorating philosophy.

Platform Beds

Simple platform beds are a common sight in the modern bedroom, particularly Scandinavian modern style. Keeping space available under the bed or other furniture contributes to the open space that's so important to this style.

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