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The Differences between Modern and Contemporary Stairs

You have no doubt heard the words “contemporary” and “modern” to describe a specific style in design. Designing your stairs to adapt either a modern or a contemporary design can be confusing. With overlapping characteristics that make them harder to distinguish, modern and contemporary styles are actually different from one another but how different is modern from contemporary design?

Modern style design

Modern design actually refers to Mid-Century modern designs during the 20th century. The trend of the modern art style incorporates the use of bright and open spaces, clean lines, natural spaces and the idea of “form follows function” – where form is simplified with more emphasis on function. The modern art style is void of unnecessary details and intricacies to keep a standard, uniform design. The modern art style design can be associated with the Bauhaus style.

In stair designing, using the modern art style usually adapts the minimalist design. Take a look at the modern spiral staircase with steel treads and simple steel balustrades. The modest and balustrade-less modern stair is another example of modern stairs with a subtle beauty.

modern spiral staircase

modern staircase - glass and polished wood

For a more modern approach, these simple full glass stairs offer good inspiration for your own stair design, while the combination of polished wood and glass on the straight staircase to the right is another good option for a modern style.

Contemporary style design

Contemporary style on the other hand is much easier to understand, although it follows no definite style theme or format. Contemporary design’s most basic quality is its “of the moment” nature. Contemporary designs are dynamic in a way that they exist today and might be different tomorrow, due to their eclectic nature. More people prefer the contemporary style design because it can be a variation of style that looks more personal.

Unlike modern style design which is minimalist, choosing a contemporary style design can transform your stairs from simple to statement pieces inside your house or building. Contemporary style is unique in form and most of the time thrives on sustainable design, using natural and eco-friendly materials to create a symbiotic relationship within the environment.

To understand how modern styles differ from contemporary style designs, take a quick look at the following contemporary-styled staircases.

contemporary stairs

Image Credits: Homes DIR

This contemporary designed stair is simple yet chic, with a sweeping combination of glass and steel balustrade and polished timber treads.


contemporary spiral staircase

Image Credits: Living Sponge

If you want the non-traditional look and the too simplistic modern design, this contemporary spiral staircase of honeyed timber and polished black balustrade will definitely be a great piece of stairspiration.


contemporary stairs by Edilco

Image Credits: Edilco

Simple and chic, this contemporary stair designed by Edilco is almost modern in style. The spiral design and alternate dark and light olive tones, however, lend it a more contemporary look.


contemporary spiral staircase in dark polished wood

Image Credits: Houzz

Instead of light timber this contemporary staircase, featured in Houzz, uses dark polished wood with clean steel balustrades. The hanging lights are another addition for a full, dazzling effect.


dazzling contemporary spiral staircase

Image Credits: Houzz

With a unique curved design, ascending and descending this contemporary staircase will surely thrill you every time. Take in the beauty of the glass, steel and polished timber combination.


cantilevered contemporary staircase

Image Credits: Zigzag Design Studio

Want something simple, floating and polished? Then here’s the staircase to inspire, with its polished wood treads and polished white balustrade and the addition of dramatic lighting.


trendy contemporary stairs

Image Credits: Trendy and Indulging

If you want something trendy or mind-boggling for your stairs, choose between these contemporary designs, with lighted treads or intricate tread supports.

And we’re done! So what do you think? Are you more for the modern stair design or is contemporary style more to your taste?


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