The sleek lines and elegant simplicity of contemporary furniture have made it a perennial favourite for any home’s style. From authentic mid-century modern pieces that would look right at home on the “Mad Men” set to new modern furniture in showrooms, contemporary style is hotter than ever. As with any trend, low-cost imitators that give you the look but not the quality can make finding furniture that lasts a challenge. If you want your contemporary style to endure, choose pieces that can withstand years of use.

Turn It Over

One of the best ways to assess furniture’s quality is to look at its underside, and modern furniture is no exception. Look at how a couch is constructed from the inside by looking at its legs and frame. In new or vintage furniture, a cambric may conceal your view of the springs from the underside of the piece; if possible, ask if this dust cover can be removed or pulled away to give you a glimpse of the springs.

Coffee tables, shelving units and dining room sets also tell a tale when they’re flipped. Look at how the legs are attached to see how well the piece will weather regular use. Glued shelving may not be as sturdy as bolted or screwed shelves. Inexpensive plywood or particle-board lookalikes may have the sleek styling of modern furniture, but they lack the durability.

All About the Materials

Contemporary furniture was such a break with ornate designs of the past because it highlighted materials rather than what a craftsman did to those materials. A maple dining table’s beauty comes from the unique colour and grain of the wood, not from ornate carving or fussy finishes. When shopping for contemporary furniture, look for that loving attention to materials over manufacturing processes. Wood and stone inlays should emphasize attractive natural features. Carving and shaping is usually minimal and also makes the most of the piece’s natural beauty.

Clean Lines

One reason for the enduring popularity of contemporary style is its ability to blend with anything. A streamlined modern sofa works as well with an eclectic mix of eras and aesthetics as it does with a pure mid-century modern room. As you shop, look for the strong, uncluttered lines that exemplify modern style. Low, lean sofas form strong horizontal lines that make a beautiful counterpoint to high ceilings. Towering bookshelves and classic cylindrical lighting fixtures draw the eye vertically and make a room feel more spacious.

Deals on Contemporary Style

Modern furniture’s popularity has pushed prices higher, but even authentic mid-century pieces are still surprisingly affordable. Its designers may not have envisioned a time that people could order shipment from anywhere in the world after browsing colour pictures on a smartphone, but vintage furniture is easy to find and buy online. Online browsing also makes comparison-shopping easier, especially as many new furniture retailers offer price-matching on identical pieces. With price-matching, you can visit a showroom in your neighbourhood and get the lowest available price even if you first saw that price in an ad for a retailer across town.

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