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Modern Wallpaper vs Contemporary Wallpaper – What’s the Difference?

When you hear the term “modern” you naturally probably think of something new or current. So when you come across the term “modern wallpaper“, the idea of something traditional might not be what you have in mind. However, in the world of design there is a difference between modern and contemporary. We’ll dive into these terms when we refer to a modern vs contemporary wallpaper and what we should expect to see.

Havana Banana Wallpaper with Varaluz Mirror Landscape • Modern vs Contemporary Wallpaper

Havana Banana Wallpaper photo courtesy of Varaluz

Modern Wallpaper

In the world of interior design, the term “modern” refers to the modernist movement from the middle of the 20th century. In fact, it refers to much of what was popular from the 1920’s to the 1970’s. If you think of mid-century modern furniture, you think of low profile coffee tables and sofas that have clean, straight angles. Modern wallpaper designs are much the same. These wallpapers often feature minimalist designs and geometric patterns. Let’s take a look at some examples of modern wallpapers.

Mel's Buffalo Check - Gigi & Gray

Mel’s Buffalo Check Wallpaper photo courtesy of Gigi & Gray


Contemporary Wallpaper

In the design context, “contemporary” reflects the trends and tastes of the current day. In some ways, contemporary is a broader stroke of the brush and can even encompass some of its modern cousins with a bit of minimalism. However, contemporary wallpapers often reveal more intricate patterns and are less bound by symmetry and form. Here are some examples of contemporary wallpapers.

Blue Moon Wallpaper Mural • West End Design Group • Contemporary Wallpaper

Blue Moon Mural photo courtesy of West End Design Group

Understanding the difference between modern wallpaper vs contemporary wallpaper is related to understanding the difference these terms have in the design world. Modern wallpaper refers to designs you may likely associate with designs from the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. This includes what many may think of as traditional designs in common vernacular. Contemporary wallpaper refers to designs from the present day and are more likely to be thought of as new and fresh. Which style do you like more?


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