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Design terminology can be confusing, especially when it comes to the ‘modern versus contemporary’ debacle. To many of us, ‘modern’ sounds like now. (We use modern technology, for example.) But in design, it refers to the design era that came about in the ’30s and lasted through the ’60s or ’70s. Before you dismiss the retro style altogether for your shower redesign, it’s important to point out that the movement gave way to most conveniences we know and love today.
The modern design era was inspired by the art movement of the same period and influences from the German Bauhaus school. Stylistic modern elements include the importance of simple form and function, the use of earth tones, and a reliance on natural materials like stone, wood, and leather.
By the 1980s, modern style was supplanted by contemporary design, but that doesn’t mean it’s outdated or no longer popular. And if you’re having visions of avocado tile and shaggy bath carpets, know that there are many ways to incorporate mid-century or Art Deco elements (both staples of modern design) in a contemporary bathroom. In fact, it might just be what you need to make your bathroom extra-inviting.
Let’s look at the features that are significant in creating a modern shower.
Modern design is known for the use of natural materials that add warmth. In a modern shower or bathroom, materials include natural stones like travertine, colorful ceramic tiles laid in brick or stacked patterns, or moisture-treated woods like teak. Art Deco spaces often featured shiny finishes like chrome, while mid-century style leaned towards burnished textures such as brass, so mixed metals work well in a modern bathroom design.
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With the emphasis on natural materials, it’s no surprise that warm, earthy hues carry over to the color palette typically used in a modern shower or bathroom. Shades of brown and beige are commonly seen, with the colors picked up in natural stone or wood accents.
However, the modern aesthetic also embraces vibrant colors, like green, yellow, or even orange, so it’s not unusual to see a pop of bright color in a modern bathtub or shower area.
At the end of the day, modern design is all about creating simple, well-designed spaces. Form and function are both important. The style incorporates bold sleek lines and geometric shapes (like hexagon tile in a bathroom, for example). The aesthetic also embraces symmetry and tries to provide a sense of balance so dual vanities are welcomed, even preferred when space allows.
Together, these modern design elements—natural materials, earthy tones, and functional spaces—create a shower or bathroom that is warm and inviting. The overall atmosphere of the modern shower should give you a sense of ease and comfort. In fact, you could call it spa-like.