If you love modern style but could use a bit of guidance as you decorate your home, you're in luck: We've asked a number of designers to comment on the most noticeable mistakes that people make when outfitting their homes in this aesthetic. Whether you're in the process of mapping out your space or are just looking to add accessories and finishing touches, you'll want to steer clear of the eight common pitfalls that the pro highlight below.
1. Not Mixing Materials
Not everything modern needs to be ultra sleek and firm. Instead, designer Alexandra Aquadro of AGA Interior Design suggests pairing natural fibers with cozy mohairs and chunky linens, juxtaposed with sleek metals, hardwoods, and glass. "This will create a soft, welcoming space without taking away from clean modern lines," she explains. Sara Malek Barney of BANDD/DESIGN expresses similar sentiments, noting that mixing manmade elements with natural elements like wood and stone is paramount.
2. Not Hanging Curtains
You need some privacy, after all! Plus, curtains provide a sense of coziness. As Melanie Millner of The Design Atelier says, "Eliminating draperies is a mistake in modern interiors. They add a layer of softness and can be designed with simple sheer fabric to keep it minimal."
3. Not Incorporating "Warm" Elements
According to Betsy Wentz of Betsy Wentz Interior Design, such warm elements include appropriately sized rugs, furniture, drapery, and some color. "Modern to some means various shades of gray, white, and black, but adding color to a modern home infuses life to what can otherwise be a stark environment," she adds. Designer Gray Walker of Gray Walker Interiors agrees. "A mistake people make is taking modern/contemporary rooms to the extreme, making the room slick with hard edges," she says. "I think even the most contemporary rooms should have a touch of patina to give it character."
4. Forgetting to Add Personality
Your home should reflect you, after all! "I notice that people forget to add the touches that make the space feel human and individualized," designer Hema Persad, who runs an eponymous firm, shares. "What ends up happening is people go overboard with all the sleek finishes and you can’t tell who the space belongs to, so it ends up looking repetitive and 'done before.'" One way to resolve this issue is by incorporating some texture into a space, Persad adds. "Even in modern design there’s room for texture and character. Think monochromatic pillows and blankets in soft fabrics, and even a plant for a touch of greenery," she notes. "You also can’t leave out a silky-textured rug."
5. Not Introducing Pieces From Past Decades
Modernist design isn't just about the now; it's been present for quite some time. "One of the biggest mistakes I see when folks lean into modern or contemporary style is that they forget that modernism has been a design ideology for many decades," notes designer Becky Shea of BS/D. "I personally love to layer in antique or vintage pieces that were designed by the pioneers of modern design." Willy Guhl and Poul Henningsen are examples of such pioneers Shea advises turning to when designing a space.
6. Using Matching Furniture Sets
This is something one should aim to avoid, designer Lindye Galloway of Lindye Galloway Studio + Shop notes. "While not awful, choosing matching sets rather than complementary pieces doesn't allow the room to have the curated, individual style that modern design strives to highlight," she explains.
7. Skimping on Rug Size
"Decorating in a more modern style can often translate to a more minimalistic approach," says designer Alexandra Kaehler of Alexandra Kaehler Design. In some cases, though, people take this too far by cutting down their rug size. "You still want a nice, big rug, that is appropriately sized to your space," Kaehler shares.
8. Not Creating Height
This can be done with shelves and accessories, explains designer Megan Molten. She offers a few tips for simple ways to add height to any space. Molten says, "Modern contemporary is very sleek, but I love to incorporate things like taller lights, candles of various sizes, and trays to elevate small boxes."