After you choose your new Philadelphia home, the next point of business is to set it up with the right furniture to bring your interior design together. Two of the most common interior styles are modern and contemporary. The final decision between modern and contemporary furniture depends partly on your choice of neighborhood and the style of your building and partly on your lifestyle and personal preferences.

The Definition of “Modern” and “Contemporary”

The words “modern” and “contemporary” have similar meanings in the dictionary but different meanings for home design. Modern refers to designs from the early to mid-twentieth century. The focus is on keeping things simple and functional. The meaning of contemporary design is a bit more complex; the exact definition varies from designer to designer. Contemporary is a style based on the trend of the moment. It is often a mixture of several styles. When choosing between modern and contemporary furniture, you are confronted with a choice between a more classic, traditional style and something new and adventurous.

Where You Live

Consider the area where you live when making a choice between modern or contemporary furniture. If you live in a neighborhood like Olde City, which prides itself on Old World traditions and where most of the buildings were built before 1920, you might want to go with a modern style of furniture. Decorate your home with old-style lamps, antique vases, classic dressing tables, and sturdy floral upholstered armchairs.

On the other hand, if you live in a trendier part of the city, such as the Northern Liberties, with its newly refurbished condos and buildings, contemporary may be the way to go. Choose more colorful and unique styles of furniture to match the zestiness of the area: some good choices are white dressers, sofas with graphic prints, and oblong tables that sit lower to the ground than traditional tables.

Lifestyle

Another consideration is your lifestyle. Do you have several people coming over to visit each week? You might want to prioritize function over form and choose sturdy, well-built modern furniture—for instance, chairs and tables with strong, hand-carved wooden legs. There is nothing quite like gathering around a large, heavy, classic wooden table for Sunday dinner.

On the other hand, you might prefer something a little more carefree. Don’t be afraid to try out some contemporary furniture, such as what can be found at Ikea, Pottery Barn, or even a thrift shop. That might mean futons, leather sofas, glass tables, funky plastic chairs, and metal kitchen tables on casters to give you some freedom to move around.

Your Personality

Most importantly, your furniture selections should be based on your personality and preferences. What do you want to wake up to every day? Your furniture should be a reflection of your personal style, and you should find it pleasing. It should tie all of the elements of your interior design together nicely. Keep all of these factors in mind as you grab your list and head out to shop for furniture.