How to make a home look modern – 9 design rules for a more contemporary home

1. Hide The Fittings

Decorative lighting doesn’t need to be seen to impress, at least not when it’s switched off. Hidden lighting, aka shadow lighting, is a contemporary approach that’s widely used to emphasize architectural details and textural materials in a modern bathroom.

2. Invest In Steel-Framed Glazing

Forget notions of gloomy or sterile cupboards, the modern pantry is getting a glow-up – it's time to flex your decorating skills. Crittall-style glazing is a clever way to enclose a walk-in pantry, without reducing the sense of spaciousness in the modern kitchen. Go for sliding doors rather than hinges for open, easy access.

3. Use Art To Add Decorative Flair

Shelves can act as modern art installations in their own right, without parting with thousands of pounds in the process. Displaying objects of the same kind creates a meaningful and significant statement but the items on show don’t need to be high art – the act of putting them together on display using a strong color scheme to create a coherent thread will have the required visual impact.

4. Cover A TV

The TV is a ubiquitous presence in modern living rooms but its black reflective screen is regarded as an eyesore by decorators. The most common solution is to house it in a specially designed cabinet, but it’s not the only one. At first glance, this room looks colorful and bold using Studio Ashby’s signature mix of antiques, bespoke pieces, and contemporary design. The surprise is that the art can slide aside revealing the TV behind.

5. Keep Clutter At Bay

‘Making multiuse, hybrid living spaces work well is hugely reliant on practical and modern storage solutions,’ explains Magnus Nilsson, lead designer, Blakes London. ‘We advocate concealing as much of the functional aspects of a space as possible. By hiding mess and less sightly items, such as computers, fridges or drinks bar, behind complementary full-height doors, a room can be comfortably used for multiple purposes.’

6. Elevate With Statement Stone

Book-matching is an elegant way to dial up the decorative impact of luxury stones, with space-boosting results. Here, eight pieces of stone, cut from the same block of marble, have been carefully book-matched to elevate this statement corner shower. ‘Using the marble floor to ceiling, without visible junction lines, helps pull the eye upwards and make the whole space feel larger,’ adds Maria Speake, founder, Retrouvius.

7. Be Brave With Color

Bold color is one way to grow a space that physically has a small footprint. 'In this guest house, the modern and colorful kitchen is narrow, so I wanted to make it a star,' says Matthew Boland, principal, MMB Studio.

8. Breathe Life Into Unused Spaces

The best modern architecture and design take space into consideration, often adding value to 'dead' areas. Small built-in desk areas can act as dressing tables, workstations, or areas to display objects. ‘In this space, the desk helped square off the wardrobe-cum-dressing area and the adjacent courtyard,’ says Steve Clinch, head architect at Echlin, who designed this table.

9. Add Smart Partitions

Most modern homes are open-plan, if this is the case in your house, install room dividers to break up a room. Don’t be afraid to disrupt sightlines into a kitchen – not every chef enjoys an audience. Opting for an open partition, like this mid-century-inspired installation by Muchmore Design, is a smart move.

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