A local design expert on modern design and how to implement it into your home

Clean lines, white space and functionality make this style something for everyone, says Paola Martinez, owner and principal designer at Olamar Interiors, LLC.

dining room with dark wooden table and chairs with white and silver lighting fixture and grey rug
Photo by Nova Soul Imagery

Spending extra time in quarantine may have made you realize it’s time to revamp your interior design style. 

But, walk-in stores from TJ Maxx to Goodwill are closed and making quick trips to find new details and accent pieces is not possible. Don’t fret, you can still transform your home with the power of online shopping. 

That’s why we spoke with local expert, Paola Martinez, owner and principal designer at Olamar Interiors, LLC about everything you need to know about modern design in 2020, and how easy it can be to bring its elements into your home. Highlights from our conversation below. 

How would you define modern design in 2020?

I would define modern design today as clean, classic, tasteful and functional. It’s about creating spaces that respect clean lines and that focus primarily on the function of that space.

What should readers know about how modern design has changed and become what it is in 2020?

I think true modern style is classic and withstands the test of time. Therefore, I don’t think it has changed too much over the years. As is, it still feels so clean and new and fresh. Clean, crisp lines, warm wood tones and a place for everything and everything in its place. All of those aspects, I think, are the truly defining elements of modern design and I don’t think those will ever go out of style.  

What are some common myths about modern design that people should know are not true?

People often assume that modern design is cold, sterile, pristine and hard to live in. I think this couldn’t be further from the truth. I think the true essence of modern design is simplicity and function and ease. These require comfort, they require warmth. It’s about a well planned out space that is easy to live in, completely and wholly functional and gentle on the senses.

modern style bathroom with window and large glass shower
Photo by Nova Soul Imagery

If someone were looking to put a modern design influence in their home, where should they start?

I think they should start with function. I think they should ask themselves: What is this space used for? How do I want to use it differently? What are the essentials in order for it to function as I want it to? Once they have those answers, I suggest pairing down your space to those pieces that are essential to what you have decided the space will be.  Finally, consider pieces for the space that have clean, straight lines and combine wood and metal. Keep your upholstery patterns clean, simple and crisp. Clean-lined architectural details, such as an accent or fireplace wall in walnut wood paneling combined with warm stone accents add texture to the space.

What are some of your favorite modern design elements?

I feel that what makes modern design truly zing is when special attention is given to the architectural details. An exposed stone clad wall set against beautiful walnut flooring and simple wood cabinetry, accentuated with clean-lined lighting fixtures in just the right way, can make any space feel truly special. One very special piece of artwork on the right wall can make a space feel entirely complete. Modern design forces you to really think about just the right elements required to make that space feel well-appointed and curated.

Now that we all have much more time in our homes during the COVID-19 outbreak, what are some easy ways readers could start to bring modern design into their homes?

Simplify, simplify, simplify. Get rid of clutter and pair down to only the pieces that you truly love, that make you happy and that make a statement in your space. Think about one or two elements in your space that could make a big design impact, such as decorating only one wall with a very clean, well put together family photo collage in striking black or wood frames, and let that wall do the talking. Also, think function. How can I create concealed storage solutions to handle my must-haves in the space?  

colorful painting on white wall with dark colored wood cabinet
Photo by Nova Soul Imagery

If you were to design the ideal modern home, with any color palette, furniture style and more, what would it look like?

For me, the ideal modern home would be somewhat small, about 1,800 square feet with a wall of glass overlooking a beautiful view, preferably of the ocean. Its interiors would have crisp white walls, black metal windows and exterior doors and white oak, wide-plank hardwood flooring. The furniture would be clean-lined, with light but highly durable upholstery pieces that would swallow you in comfort and face the views. A clean, modern linear gas fireplace would be surrounded by black, large-format tiles. The area rugs would be soft underfoot, in a neutral palette. It would have a limited amount of furniture surrounded by a few, meaningful pieces of art, accessories and sculpture. The light fixtures throughout would be unique and sculptural. The home would have a place for everything and would, hopefully, also have everything in its place.

If there is anything else readers should know about modern design in their home, what would it be?

In these crazy times we are living in, the simplicity and calmness that can be achieved with modern design can help to make your home truly feel like your sanctuary. If you haven’t considered it before, it may be worth looking into creating a more modern aesthetic in your home.

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