Contemporary vs. Modern Bathroom Style

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October 7, 2022
Robern Design Solutions

Your design aesthetic says a lot about your personality. When you look through your wardrobe, you may notice your style leans a little classic or more in line with today’s trends. The same is true for people’s home design—particularly in their bathrooms. When arranging this living space, the choice between a traditional and avant-garde feel mainly comes down to a contemporary vs. modern bathroom style.

modern bathroom with medicine cabinet

While these may sound like the same aesthetic, there are some major differences in the look and ambiance of style that can help you bring out your individuality in this treasured room of your home.

Contemporary bathroom with wood elements.

What Is Modern Style?

A modern style bathroom has less to do with current trends and more to do with set qualities that create a certain atmosphere. This interior design concept that values form and function equally includes aspects of popular styles from 1920-1950, including Art Deco, cubism, and minimalism. The resounding popularity and timelessness of the look have persisted in modern-day furniture, architecture, and interior design. The mid-century modern movement succeeded it, but “modern” is sometimes used to describe both.

Modern bathroom featuring a wood vanity with architectural details and an open console design.

Modern style is characterized by warm, natural colors that provide a cozy feel. Clear, well-balanced lines balance the natural with geometric shapes. Wood, mahogany, brass, and glass are all commonly used in a modern bathroom—but materials aren’t the only elements that contribute to the modern style.

Close-up of wood-framed mirror in a modern bathroom style.

Take bathroom mirrors, for example. While using a wood or metal frame certainly contributes to a modern style, form is also a crucial aspect of the design. A frame with clean, crisp lines lends an elegant and clean look.

Close up of a modern style bathroom vanity with metal accents

Similarly, many popular modern bathroom vanities feature sleek wood and metal designs complemented by strong lines and other natural materials like marble countertops. If the simple beauty of nature combined with the precision of geometry is appealing, then a modern style bathroom may be just right for you.

What Is Contemporary Style?

Contemporary style bathroom with minimalist elements

Whereas modern style has defining characteristics, a contemporary style bathroom employs any design elements that were popular at the time. These tend to be less traditional and can include multiple trending designs woven together, such as Art Deco and minimalism. While this may sound similar to the modern style, contemporary designs are more adaptable to allow for frequent updates to the overall scheme.

Contemporary style can be harder to distinguish and can even incorporate some design elements from the modern style, like using clean lines, metals, and natural materials. So how can you tell the difference between contemporary vs. modern bathroom styles?

Modern style bathroom with art deco elements, like contoured metal-framed mirror

Using this contemporary contour mirror as an example, you’ll notice that—while they make use of metal accents and clean lines in some sections—the frame has a more rounded, asymmetrical shape. Its unique design stands out in nearly any bathroom.

Black-stained wood vanity with brass metal accents.

Similarly, our Sendai Vanities utilize modern style elements like natural wood, metal, and clear lines. However, you’ll notice that this particular contemporary bathroom vanity juxtaposes stained wood with treated metal to create an eye-catching color scheme. While it features straight lines, they’re in unique shapes that accent the drawers instead of solid rectangular planks, creating a sophisticated look.

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Main Differences in Contemporary vs. Modern Bathroom Style

Since the common elements of both styles can be very similar—and contemporary design can include features from nearly any style, including modern—it can be hard to visually tell the difference between things like modern bathroom mirrors and contemporary mirrors.

The main difference between these two styles is that modern has more set boundaries, while contemporary design is more like a mosaic of different techniques. When looking for modern bathroom décor, keep an eye out for designs that seem simple, with a quiet and traditional elegance. Contemporary designs will stand out with more fluid, less geometric shapes that excite the eye and features that stand apart from at least some other items in the room. Since both design aesthetics also commonly feature natural materials, contemporary sinks, vanities, and mirrors are more likely to feature treated woods, metals, and non-traditional raw materials like hemp.

Which Style Is Right for You?

Your home bathrooms are versatile spaces that provide safety and comfort for a variety of routines. They’re often where your day begins and ends, where you take time to look your best—a safe space unique from any other room in your home.

Choosing a design style that fits your personality and lifestyle can be as important for the bathroom as any other room. So, which of these aesthetics is right for you?

Modern bathroom with traditional accents, such as a wood dresser style vanity.

Because of the familial and natural feel of a modern style bathroom, many people who consider theirs a safe, relaxing space may opt for this design. The natural colors, simple geometric lines, and conventional features of this style can make it a great place for relaxing in the shower after a long day or preparing yourself for work. Since it has been used since the early 20th century, there’s a good chance that a modern design style may also lend a sense of nostalgia, reminding you of rooms in your childhood home.

Contemporary and minimalist bathroom with lit mirrored medicine cabinet and modular vanity.

A contemporary style bathroom will likely include bold design choices for a more engaging space. Because the designs of mirrors, fixtures, vanities, and décor may be more experimental and uncommon, it may be a better choice for those who consider their bathroom a place of fashion, inspiration, and creativity.

Striking, incongruous lines and colors can stimulate you mentally, but are also often fun and lively, typically providing more energy than a modern bathroom. Since a contemporary bathroom shows off some of the latest design styles, it can also be a good choice for those who like to redecorate often to stay current with the latest fashions.

Design the Modern Bathroom of Your Dreams

With this guide, you are one step closer to choosing the right style for your bathroom. For more ideas, explore our inspiration gallery of designer bathrooms.

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