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modern style rug in living room with leather couch

Style Series: Understanding Modern Style Rugs, Design and Décor

When it comes to design, “modern” is a term that is often thrown around and rarely understood. Some people will think of stark, minimalist spaces defined by metal and glass. Others will point toward the more casual styles of the mid-twentieth century that blended natural materials and new innovations in manufacturing. So what is modern design, and what are modern style rugs?

Unlike more rigidly defined styles like coastal and farmhouse, modern design tends to be a more “you know it when you see it” situation. However, it does still have its defining features. Namely, modern design has a strong focus on functionality, clean lines, natural materials, and neutral colors.

Modern or Contemporary?

There’s a lot of confusion around the terms “modern” and “contemporary.” While these words can be interchangeable in common conversation, they’re more distinct when talking about design.

Contemporary design is mostly concerned with now. This means it is constantly changing along with technology, tastes, and trends. It’s also forward-looking. So, while many traditionally inspired design styles are popular today, they are not typically included under the umbrella of contemporary design. This is the realm of minimalism, sleek lines, and monochrome color schemes.

Modern design, on the other hand, is rooted in the early to middle years of the twentieth century. With roots in Scandinavian and German Bauhaus design, modern art, architecture, and design was largely a reaction to the ornate traditional design of years past. As a result, modern design emphasizes function over form and embraces unembellished simplicity wherever possible.

Simple and Clean

Unlike the gothic, renaissance, and Victorian styles that preceded it, modern style rejects the dark and dramatic in favor of open spaces and clean lines.

living room with modern style rug

Crucially, every bit of furniture and décor in a modern style room has a reason to be there. That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to embrace ultra-minimalism, but you should think about minimizing the clutter in your room. Centerpieces, sit-arounds, and tchotchkes rarely have a place in a modern home.

Act Natural

With the emphasis on clean lines and simplicity, it’s easy for modern style spaces to start feeling clinical. Combat this by leaning on natural materials over synthetics. Great modern design employs lots of wood, stone, and leather. New manufacturing techniques allow these natural materials to be used in new and exciting ways.

By using natural materials, modern décor maintains a strong connection to the earth. They tend to be hardwearing, durable, and even look better with age. Modern design focuses on functionality. Visual texture doesn’t come from ornamentation. Instead, it comes from how the objects are used.

Stay Neutral

When it comes to colors, modern design likes to stay neutral. As with the focus on clean lines and natural materials, neutral colors help modern spaces feel clean and uncluttered. Warmer tones like ivory, beige, and brown are especially great for bringing a cozy sense to what might otherwise be a stark space.

sitting area with modern style rug

Accent colors tend to be used sparingly and tend to stick to colors that could also be found in nature. While you can still add some bold colors to draw the eye or add texture, painting a whole wall in firetruck red would likely be a bridge too far.

Choosing a Modern Style Rug

When choosing a modern rug, follow the same rules you would when decorating the rest of your room. Keep it clean, neutral, and (when possible) natural.

The obvious choice for modern style rugs is one made from a natural plant fiber such as jute or sisal. These rugs check all the boxes of modern design: neutral hues (usually brown or beige), a clean aesthetic, and lots of functionality thanks to their easy-to-clean flat weave construction.

living room with modern style shag rug

Of course, jute and sisal rugs do have one major drawback: they can be a little rough feeling. For areas of your home where comfort is a priority (for example, the living room or a bedroom) you may opt for a more plush rug. If you take this route, you’ll have even more options for patterns, just remember not to go overboard.

Rugs for Every Style

Ready to try the modern style yourself? Get started with a beautiful modern rug from Rugs.com. With thousands of rugs in hundreds of styles, we make it easy to find the perfect piece for your home.

Check out our full modern rugs buyer’s guide for inspiration, and keep an eye out for the next installment in our style series where we’ll keep covering the most popular interior design trends like coastal style rugs!

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