Design Checklist: Essential Elements of a Modern Home


Unless you’re a big fan of antiquated styles, a sleek and modern aesthetic is probably what you’re after for your home. Sometimes, though, it’s far easier to recognize modern design in a magazine than it is to recreate that aesthetic for yourself. So what exactly constitutes modern home design?

From smart colour choices to the intricacies of furniture buying, we’ve collated all the tricks of the trade in one place. If you want to know how to transform your home into a modern oasis, just keep on reading.

Words: Johanna Cider

1. Timeless furniture

What distinguishes a modern home from a baroque one? Furniture, of course. To fit with your modern aesthetic, your furniture choices must be as “quiet” as possible. This means that, ideally, your chairs and tables should be almost absorbed into their surroundings as background furnishings, rather than obnoxiously drawing the eye.

When you’re selecting furniture, think Ikea-style pieces: all utility and sleek lines, with no unnecessary ornamentation or bulk. Shopping with this intention in mind will mean that you’ll come away with top-quality, elegant furniture pieces that will stay in style for years to come.

2. Light

We tend to think it’s the material features – paint colour, carpet texture, décor – which define a home’s design aesthetic. However, it’s often the much more subtle things which make the most significant difference.

What’s particularly characteristic of modern home design is the strategic use of natural light. The most modern homes boast interiors which are bathed in sunlight from dawn until dusk, creating that airy and fresh atmosphere that’s so inviting. If you’re in the process of building your home, opt for an open floor plan to ensure lots of light. If you’re working with an established structure, consider installing more windows or a skylight.

3. Natural materials

Scandinavian design has become synonymous with modernity. This is not least because of Scandi furniture design, in particular, makes such fantastic use of natural materials. From marble to slate, teakwood to recycled bamboo, natural materials contribute to the sense of effortless sophistication that modern home design is famous for.

4. Minimalism

Minimalist precepts occupy a crucial place in contemporary home design. We don’t just mean that keeping your space free of surface mess and clutter is essential; the impulse to minimalism should also apply to your design choices. Less is more!

For example, rather than choosing a highly-detailed wallpaper for your living room, consider a block paint in a muted hue. Rather than a million clunky appliances, investigate the option of wireless or Smart technology for your living spaces. Even your window-coverings contribute to your overall design – so avoid heavy, dark curtains, and invest instead in ethereal drapes or new blinds.

5. Unobtrusive colour

Keep your colour choices, and specifically your wall colour choices, unobtrusive. This doesn’t mean you have to restrict yourself exclusively to cool whites, only that you need to keep your hues muted.

Going for a block pale shade on the walls and carpets means you can save your pops of colour for furnishings and décor pieces. For instance, you might bring some green into the mix with a selection of pot-plants, or choose mustard-covered furnishings for a retro vibe.

6. Streamlined exteriors

We talk a lot about what modern design means inside the home, but what about on the outside? It’s the exterior of the home people see first, after all. To ensure a good impression, talk to your architect or builder about streamlining your home’s exterior details. Design elements you might discuss include flat rooflines, materials like grey brick and slate wood, and linear forms. Even homes with more classic exteriors can be modernised by taking these design conventions into consideration.