Modern Décor Ideas: A Guide to Adding Contemporary Art and Sculpture to Your Home

Modern art transforms the style of a home. Whether you add contemporary wall art, small or large-scale sculptures, or abstract wall panels, these elements add beauty, energy, color, texture, and personality. But many find the process of choosing and placing art a bit intimidating. To help, we’ve rounded up tips and ideas to suffuse your home with modern art that inspires and makes a statement.

Modern Furniture

Start With Modern Furniture and Lighting

Some find it simplest to start with functional modern décor elements, such as chairs or lighting. Get adventurous and branch away from traditional pieces. Explore modern, contemporary, and industrial décor to find beyond-the-ordinary styles with an artistic side.

In furniture, look for:

  • Clean, curved lines
  • Boxed chair legs
  • Angular chair arms
  • Contrasting metal and upholstered elements

In lighting, look for:

  • Geometric metallic elements
  • Sculptural table lamp bases
  • Abstract patterns
  • Unusual material combinations, such as stone and brass or chrome and linen

Gallery Wall

Create a Modern Art Gallery Wall

An art gallery wall is a grouping of framed artwork. A gallery usually takes up a large section of a wall and functions as a décor element itself. You can design a gallery wall featuring all modern art and photography, or you can mix modern and traditional art styles. Finally, you can create a modern layout for the art no matter the style of the art within the frames. Here are a few ideas to spark your creativity:

  • A collection of oversized black-and-white close-up photographs of modern architecture, such as the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
  • Abstract framed art with one connected color theme running through the collection
  • An eclectic collection of abstract photographs and wall panels.
  • A collection of pop art in bright, complementary colors
  • Four matching framed modern art pieces positioned in a single row or in a square layout

Wall Art

Use Modern Wall Art as a Focal Point or Statement Piece

Go all-in with your modern aesthetic when you add a large-scale piece of contemporary art that serves as a focal point in a room. Place this art in a prominent position, such as above the mantle, behind a sofa, opposite the dining room table, or above your bed. This art will grab attention, so make sure it’s something you and your family love. Ideas to consider:

  • Mixed-metal abstract wall art. The various metals add warmth or coolness (depending on the metals) and sophistication.
  • Abstract wall panel sets. These curated sets make gallery walls a breeze.
  • Wooden wall panels. Reclaimed wood arranged in geometric patterns. Carved wood. Painted wood. Wall art pieces designed with wood put a rustic spin on contemporary décor.
  • Abstract landscapes and cityscapes. Inspired by natural or urban settings, these paintings or prints are evocative and elegant.

Make Your Modern Art Pop With a Contrast Wall

A large abstract framed painting or metal wall art looks even more striking against a colorful backdrop. Choose an accent wall in your kitchen, bedroom, or living room and paint it a complementary color that is bold or bright, such as sunflower yellow, deep navy blue, or moss green. If you’re feeling adventurous, paint a ‘frame’ around the entire wall in a lighter color and position the wall art in the center.

Modern Sculptures 

Add Modern Sculptures for a Dash of Drama

Modern art sculptures add depth, texture, and interest to rooms. When choosing a sculpture, make sure it’s love at first sight. But when searching, think about its eventual location. Ask yourself these questions to help guide your decision making:

  • Do you have enough space for a large sculpture, or should the piece be midsize or small?
  • Do you want to find a piece that complements the existing color scheme or lends a striking contrast?
  • Are you drawn to streamlined, angular, or textural modern sculptures?
  • Does everyone in the household love the piece?

Placement will depend on the space and the size of the sculpture, but here are some options:

  • On the floor next to the fireplace
  • On the floor beside the sofa or a club chair
  • In front of a gallery wall
  • On coffee, sofa, or side tables
  • On a console
  • On bookshelves
  • On wall shelves

Mix and Match Modern Art With Any Décor Style

Some hesitate to add modern art to their homes unless the overall design is contemporary. But modern art pieces actually complement other room décor styles beautifully—adding lively contrasts and eclectic elegance. Ideally, statement wall art should complement the room’s décor without matching it. Large modern art pieces are meant to have a standalone quality.

Spotlight Your Modern Art with Lighting

Spotlight Your Modern Art With Lighting

Make sure you fully enjoy your modern art morning through night with strategic lighting, inspired by museums and galleries.

  • Layer your lighting. A layered lighting strategy prioritizes a mix of ambient light and accent lighting to ensure your art is always perfectly illuminated.
  • Use ceiling fixtures to highlight wall art. Recessed lights and track lighting focus attention on the art and not the lighting itself. Aim the light beams at the center of the artwork on the wall at a 30-degree angle to minimize shadows and glare. For sculptures, direct soft light down onto the upper part of the piece.
  • Illuminate art with wall sconces. This is especially elegant with large-scale framed paintings or photographs. Choose wall sconces with frosted glass covers or fabric shades to soften the light—fixtures with exposed bulbs are too bright when placed immediately next to the artwork. Another option is installing several downward-facing sconces over the art to create a wash of light from above. Choose fixtures with a modern aesthetic, or based on your overall décor style.

Finally, when it comes to modern art, remember that rules are meant to be broken. If you choose modern paintings, photographs, and sculptures you love—there’s no going wrong.