The Virtues of Contemporary Design


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In the past several months I've looked through over a hundred books on home decorating, looking for ideas for my new home, and I must say it's been quite an education to see the kinds of styles that are out there.

Well. . . not so much of an education. All they've shown me is styles that I don't want. Every single one of them seems to emphasize clutter. I've paged through book after book, and seen photo after photo of walls jam-packed full of photos and paintings, floors stuffed so full of furniture it seemed as if it would be impossible for someone to move around in the room without knocking something over, beds piled high with pillows, and hundreds of knick-knacks everywhere. I shuddered just looking at those photos and thinking of all the dusting and other cleaning that would be required.

That's why the contemporary style of home decorating appeals to me. There's no fuss involved. It's all about seeing the bare bones of a room, with no clutter to get in your way. There's ornamentation, of course, one painting to a wall, for example, but nothing over the top.

The main principle of the contemporary style of design is minimalism. Form following function. There's no need for extensive scroll work on chairs, for example - simple, straight lines with a comfortable seat are all that is required. There's no need to “dress" every room in the house, from the hallway which you first enter to the living room to the bedrooms to the bathroom to the porch.

"Dressing" the room. That's what a few books I read called decorating each room, and it put me in mind of a stage play, which is where I'd heard the term initially. In a stage play, everything is artificial, and put there for effect - not because anyone real is actually going to live in that room. It's the same thing with the photos of rooms in all the books I read. They're so cluttered. . . I couldn't imagine anyone actually living in one of those rooms and being able to keep it neat and clean.

With the minimalist approach, there's ornamentation of course. It's not like you're stuck living in a colorless house with no flowers, no paintings, no comfy chairs. But there's no excess, no clutter for the sake of clutter.

Although one can certainly use furniture made from wood in contemporary design, I myself prefer the metallic look, black leather chairs that are set off nicely by the beige walls and carpet, a glass-topped table, a vase with a single flower by the window.

I have to confess to breaking the rules about the walls, however. I'm a great reader, and I've got bookcases in every room of the house, including the bathroom! It's all about what pleases you.

Adam Peters is a consultant who writes on many consumer topics like wood surfaces for . You can find more information and resources on contemporary decorating at his website.


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