17 Steps to Transform from Traditional to Contemporary Home Decor

Modern living area remodel

Have you ever asked yourself any of the following questions:

  • How can I make my house look more modern?
  • How can I update my traditional home?
  • How can I incorporate contemporary home design into my old house?

If so, you are not alone. The traditional Dallas house built in the 1960s and 1970s is generally a one-story brick or wood-siding structure with many individual rooms, for example, formal living rooms and formal dining rooms. They also might have ornate lighting and plumbing fixtures, and intricate woodwork. If the home has not been updated, it can be very energy inefficient.

The contemporary style home, on the other hand, has more open spaces, higher ceilings, and less ornamentation. There is a range of different contemporary styles such as mid-century modern, retro, soft or casual, urban, industrial and art deco. The variations are what make the contemporary design so versatile and interesting.

If you are looking to change the style of your home to a more contemporary look, here are some suggestions. These actions range from the simple to the more involved (at which time you may want to get some help from a professional architect and contractor). Be sure to send us photos of your before and after. We’d love to see your transformation.

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Declutter

Less is more in contemporary design. The space around your furnishings is just as important as the furnishings themselves. For the items that you need to keep, store them in simple, attractive containers. Read more here for tips to declutter your home and listen in on our podcst about the expectations and reality of tidying up the Marie Kondo way.

Remove dated wallpaper

If necessary, sand walls for a smooth finish. Avoid heavily textured plaster. Brave enough to DIY your wallpaper removal? Click here for the scrapers, perforators, and steamers to get the job done.

Change your paint colors

The right color palette depends on your tastes, furnishings, artwork, etc.

Update your light fixtures.

Change out ornate fixtures as well as old heavy track lighting. Have fun with a new contemporary pendant or chandelier in your kitchen or dining room.

Recessed light fixtures have become more efficient and smaller. LED retrofit fixtures like this HALO one work great if you are looking to install clean, white trim and upgrade the energy efficiency of your recessed fixture. Check the size you need if you are replacing existing lights. Yours are probably 5″ or 6″ in diameter, although it’s not uncommon to find fixtures ranging from 3″ to 8″.

Select 2,700K color temperature if you like a warmer light that mimics an incandescent bulb. Choose 3,000K for soft white and 3,500K color temperature if you like a bright white light.

 

Modern farmhouse kitchen remodel

Change your window coverings.

If you have heavily detailed curtains with lots of trim, replace them with lighter and more streamlined draperies or roller shades that accentuate the space in the room.

Furniture, art and area rugs can be changed out with more modern pieces.

Take a look at the room as a whole and don’t try to make everything match. A coordinated decor of complimentary pieces is more interesting than playing “matchy-matchy.”

To design a room from scratch we like to start with an inspiration piece to guide our color palette. This can be a photo from your favorite vacation destination, or a scarf or pillow in your favorite colors. If you don’t have an obvious inspiration piece, go to your closet and take notice of the colors in which you feel your best when wearing them.

contemporary home decor - rugs

Replace the hardware on cabinets and doors.

You can change the metal color, style, and shape to a simpler, modern look. Here’s one similar to the one pictured below.

closet remodel

Change the faceplates, light switches and electrical plugs throughout the house.

If you decide to do this yourself, remember safety first… turn off the power at the circuit breaker panel before you start changing any switches or outlets. For a clean look, choose a wallplate that is screwless like this Leviton Decora model.

Now, if you want to go beyond the do-it-yourself level, it is time to bring in the professionals.

Replace single-pane glass, aluminum frame windows with energy efficient double-pane windows.

Changing the type of window, for example, a single hung to a casement can update the look on the exterior of your house. While you are at it, select more modern front and back doors too. To go all out contemporary, use storefront-style aluminum, insulated glass windows as large as your wall will allow.

Modern living area remodel

Create a big impact in the kitchen.

Change the material of the backsplash and countertops. New and rediscovered materials, such as concrete, soapstone, terrazzo, stainless steel, recycled glass, and wood, offer fresh alternatives to granite, marble, or laminate. Having selected your modern surfaces, refer to our cleaning surfaces guide for keeping them clean and protected.

High Rise Remodel Kitchen -hpd architecture + interiors

Paint cabinets and change out the cabinets doors.

Try a flat slab door rather than the traditional raised panel door.

Bathroom remodel

Give floors, showers, and vanities attention in the bathroom.

There are many ways to create a more contemporary look in a bathroom. Choose a vanity cabinet that mounts on the wall and allows the flooring material to extend underneath. Opt for a tile in a different shape such as a rectangular plank, and then repeat the pattern in the shower.

contemporary home decor - bathroom

Open up the living areas.

Your architect will likely consult with a structural engineer to determine how to support the ceiling and roof structure as walls are removed.

Contemporary home remodel living room

Remove popcorn-style ceiling finishes.

Get a contractor with the proper equipment to do this. The dust and fumes created are plentiful and best left to a professional.

Replace carpet with porcelain tile, hardwood flooring, or stained concrete.

Keeping the new material as consistent through the house as possible will allow the rooms to feel connected.

Modern home remodel - stairway and hallway

Simplify the baseboards and door and window trim.

Painted or stained wood both work equally as well.

Raise the roof

Well, not literally (although it has been done). If possible, raise the height of the ceiling framing to make living spaces more voluminous. When it comes time to replace your roof, consider a standing-seam metal roof for a more contemporary look.

Home remodel exterior front

A contemporary home inspires to simplify spaces, materials, and furnishings to accentuate the geometry of the space. Best of all, you will have the relaxing, calm retreat you have been looking for. If you are ready to update and simplify your home, we are here to help and are happy to guide you through the process.

If you want some more ideas for updating your home, hpd architecture + interiors can help. Just give us a call at 214.751.2304.

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