Unpacking Modern Style. A Mini Masterclass with Melanie Ewing.

October 9, 2023

“We often think of the principal responsibility of a modern interior, particularly one in a project with a beautiful site or a great view, as staying out of the way.”
Steven Harris, one of New York’s premier Interior Designers.  

As Steven Harris so graphically frames it, Modern Interior Style showcases the interior and exterior space and not the things in it. Consequently, the best contemporary and modern spaces are defined by simplicity, subtle sophistication, deliberate use of texture and strong, clean lines that elevate architectural integrity.

If you’re aiming for a modern aesthetic, we can’t stress strongly enough the importance of paying microscopically close attention to the fundamentals of your design: start with the right choice of floor and wall tiles, to help you prepare a spectacular canvas. It sounds like a tight and constrictive brief, but take it from us ... this considered approach will give you the freedom to work in your colour palette and texture board afterwards.

Please don’t think that this ‘less is more’ approach means stark and uncomfortable living. Far from it. A minimalist approach means concentrating on functionality, innovation and individuality. So your seating solutions will be incredibly comfortable and inviting, your lighting – much of it natural - will create playful, mood-lifting pools of welcoming illumination that will shift throughout the day. Scenery becomes a key element of the internal design, so you’ll incorporate huge ‘picture windows’ to let the outside landscaping flood your senses and create a calming biophilic effect and that all-important connection to nature.

The Modern Palette. To keep your modern space sleek and fresh, focus on neutrals as well as crisp black and white colour schemes with considered pops (and that doesn’t mean explosions!) of colour for contrast.

Modern Finishes. We’re looking at bare, unstained, smooth wood, deliberate use of texture, tile or vinyl floors, and generous use of metal, concrete, screed and stone. Both opaque and clear glass.

Modern Layout. Straight, clean lines and minimal curves. Open plan or broken plan spaces, with use of steps and levels to separate and delineate different living areas. Clever and innovative use of lighting (track and recessed) along with nifty architectural solutions that amplify natural light and provide full access to the views. (The Chinese call this ‘jiejing’ – borrowed source – the principle of incorporating background landscape into the design, that lends the final chapter to your look.)

Italtile’s Modern Starter Pack. Italtile has, at any given moment, one of South Africa’s largest curation of absolutely outstanding neutral-toned tiles. From subtly nuanced lights to dramatic and almost theatrical darks. Wood looks in both vinyl and porcelain, stone effects, concrete and screed feels, matt, gloss and slip-resistant.

On the vinyl front, you’re looking at top quality, new age Moda Vinile, exclusive to Italtile. These are exquisite wood look vinyl tiles, beautifully durable, even in bathrooms and wet rooms, designed to last for up to 25 years in residential conditions (if installed and maintained correctly). Then, to satisfy your metal cravings, there’s large-format Seattle, an exciting and utterly unique Spanish tile range that rocks the Metal Effect Tile Trend. Seattle is pure sorcery, combining the powerful elements of porcelain, mirror and metallic tones to create a multi-dimensional surface with a steel rainbow and sublime sheen. Seeing is believing.

This is a tile that takes centre stage, very much your main event in décor terms.

Achieving a welcoming modern interior look that is clean, uncluttered and purpose-built can take some restraint. You may need to sift through your furniture and accessories to pare things down. Getting your modern colour scheme balanced may also take some doing, and it’s best to ask for help. Italtile’s sales consultants know their way around a moodboard. They’re interior design-certified, with stacks of deep product knowledge and masses of can-do attitude. #just ask