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Modern decor is all about clean lines—no swag curtains, colonial furniture, or chintz here, says New York-based designer Jonathan Adler. But sleek needn't mean staid. "Being overly monochromatic is a snooze fest," notes Adler, who likes to pepper rooms with bright color and eccentric conversation pieces.
To Get the Look
—Stick to unfussy furniture in solid colors—neutral or bold works best (don't go dusty rose). White-on-white is a superchic choice and gray a foolproof one, but if a jolt of red calls your name, go for it!
—Add shine with mirrored black-lacquer, Lucite, and metallic accents, like lamps and tables. Think smoky glass vases, hip design books, and witty knickknacks that work with the color palette.
—Let accessories and artwork be "exclamation points" in your room—choose graphic patterns or vivid colors that really pop against your furniture. Or make your exclamation point one brightly painted wall.
—Keep the space uncluttered. "I follow that old-fashioned maxim: 'Before you go out, look in the mirror and take one thing off.' The same applies to a modern room," Adler says. Let just a few cool items set the tone.
—Get ideas from magazines and books—art, interiors, fashion, landscape, anything that captures your imagination. "Who knows? A model in a red dress might inspire you to paint your walls crimson!" says Adler.
—Opt for right angles and simple shapes.
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Contemporary Cool Furniture and Accessories
Streamlined and colorful.
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Industrial Coffee Table
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If you put practicality first and foremost—but still like to embrace trends here and there—this traditional-with-a-twist look is for you. While keeping your large furniture pieces elegant and timeless, "you can add pattern and punch through the lamps, pillows, and accessories," says Meg Braff, a New York-based interior designer.
Put a Personal Spin on Pretty and Polished
—Choose couches and chairs that are comfortable yet tailored. "I like to mix different textures, like linen with silk, for example," Braff says.
—Stamp out stuffiness by adding a couple of bold-patterned ottomans, or club chairs and plenty of pillows. "These are great ways to add kick," says Braff.
—Keep your floor plan neat and symmetrical without being matchy-matchy—flank the sofa, say, with a pair of shapely lamps.
—Make favorite items focal points—place photo books on a coffee table with a pretty box to hold remote controls. "Avoid kitschy accessories in favor of functional things," suggests Braff.
Tip: Think about how you live. Are you a way-organized Type A who's super-disciplined about clutter? You'd probably relish a modern room's clean, crisp feel. Do you prefer a classic look but want to try new things? A sophisticated setting would let you have it all.
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Sophisticated Classic Furniture and Accessories
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Furniture from various time periods, with rustic textures and global accents—this style is all about breaking the rules. "It's for those who don't just want to copy the latest catalog," explains Frank Fontana, host of Design on a Dime on HGTV. "It should feel as if you've walked into a really cool antique store with a chic twist."
Mix It Up
—Opt for furnishings with a handcrafted or vintage vibe, whether it's Victorian or mid-century modern or something new that just looks old.
—Introduce smaller "clash" pieces from different eras that stand out—ethnic-patterned pillows, a crystal chandelier, exotic travel treasures.
—Hang whimsical wallpaper or a clustered collection of framed pictures and mirrors to visually pull your mix-and-match room together (the frames themselves should also be different materials).
—You want a medley, but sticking to a color palette, even if it's a loosely defined one, will help tie things together, says Fontana.
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Eclectic Mix Furniture and Accessories
Groovy floral print.
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Mixed Media Art
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