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8 modern and contemporary sofa styles

Modern and contemporary, they’re one and the same right? Actually no. Despite these two buzzwords frequently being thrown around together, when it comes to sofa styles, it turns out modern and contemporary are two totally different kettles of fish. Read on to find out…

  • Learn the definitions of contemporary and modern furniture design
  • Discover what classifies a sofa as contemporary rather than modern
  • Find out why what’s contemporary today won’t be 10 years from now

What’s meant by contemporary and modern?

While one defines a style that’s here today and gone tomorrow, the other describes designs created after the mid-twentieth century. So, to sum it up, modern design is time-specific. And, contemporary design is happening in the here and now.

Contemporary sofas also tend to be more innovative, offering customers the latest shapes, bells and whistles to tie in with current trends. And, what’s considered contemporary today won’t be in a decade’s time. While modern sofas, by contrast, always have the same iconic characteristics that define them.

Confused? Don’t worry. It takes some time to digest that the two are actually very different things, which is why we’ve pulled together our pick of 7 sofa styles, to help you tell the difference between what’s considered contemporary, and what’s unmistakably modern.

1. Modern

Product featured: The Fosbury sofa bed shown in Viscose Linen Eggshell Blue from £1,360

Modern style is defined by classic, clean and simple silhouettes. And, The Fosbury sofa bed has this in abundance. With square arms and a very angular shape, The Fosbury bears two of the key characteristics of mid-20th century design. What’s more, it uses the best one-fold mechanism on the market. So, it glides smoothly from sofa to bed in one action without the need to remove the back or seat cushions.

2. Contemporary

Product featured: The Gastard sofa/sofa bed shown in Cotton French Blue from £1,090 and £1,240

At first you might think The Gastard is an antique. But, this is actually what makes this sofa style a contemporary contender. Confused? Contemporary style doesn’t fall into a neat little box. Instead, it reflects trends and what’s currently popular, even if that happens to be something that takes its inspiration from vintage design, which is precisely what makes The Gastard sofa bed a contemporary one.

3. Contemporary 

Product featured: The Appledoe sofa/sofa bed shown in Broad Weave Linen Silver from £1,075 and £1,225

This one can trick a lot of people. After all, The Appledoe does bear some characteristics not associated with contemporary design. But, it deviates from the mould with its Howard shaped arms and stylish scalloped-shape back, which cunningly break up the simple clean lines. And, is precisely what propels this sofa straight into the contemporary category.

4. Modern

Product featured: The Foxham sofa/sofa bed shown in Cotton Pigeon from £945 and £1,095

Slender arms, along with sabre shaped feet are what makes The Foxham very firmly a modern sofa style. There’s nothing about this sofa that will date, which is perfect if you’re looking for an investment piece to see you through the years. So, it’s more than capable of standing the test of time.

5. Modern

Product featured: The Alton chaise sofa/sofa bed shown in Textured Linen Pebble from £1,770 and £1,920

The Alton is the perfect example of how modern style doesn’t have to skimp on big and bouncy. This family-sized sofa has seats enough to accommodate, guests, kids and pets alike. And, even though it’s decidedly modern in appearance it still scores high for comfort, packing in layer upon layer of soft and springy upholstery into its seat and back cushions. So, not only will this modern beauty look the part for longer thanks to its timeless nature, it will also give you all the support and seating space your living room needs.

6. Contemporary 

Product featured: The Tidcombe corner sofa/sofa bed shown in Cotton Natural from £2,295 and £2,515

This sofa may have traditional bun shaped wooden feet, but its scatter cushion back and scrolled shape arms (very hip right now) are what make this one contemporary. Again, it’s not the most obvious one to identify. But, having more than one iconic characteristic to its name is what makes The Tidcombe a design of the times.

7. Contemporary

Product featured: The Minety 2 seater modular sofa/sofa bed shown in Cotton Shadow from and £1,115

This cool and compact modular sofa bed is a dandy space saver. So, if you’re faced with furnishing a proportionally challenged room, The Minety is your dream answer. What’s more, our workshop have streamlined this beauty, taking away the arms and keeping the frame neat and tight to maximise on precious inches. And, the result is a geometric and contemporary triumph that you’ll barely believe contains a handy sofa bed.

8. Modern 

Product featured: The Westbury 2 modules sofa/sofa bed shown in Linen Cotton Dove from £1,450 and £1,623

At the start of this blog, we told you that one way to identify contemporary sofa styles is through innovative features. And, being a modular sofa style, The Westbury can take on several shapes and sizes, which in our book is about as innovative as it gets.

But, at its core, this modular beauty is definitely modern at heart, with a simple, timeless design, that allows it to adapt over the years. Plus, if you opt for a neutral fabric such as Linen Cotton Dove, you’ll double up the modern factor, as grey is notoriously time defying as it pairs well with literally every other colour. So, a modern sofa design like The Westbury, upholstered in one of our grey fabrics, is the perfect base to introduce contemporary accents.

If you want a contemporary or modern sofa…

The sofa styles from our handcrafted furniture family we’ve honed in on above, are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to our sofa and sofa beds. And, now you’re an expert in the differences between modern and contemporary style you’ll have no trouble telling the two apart. To find out more about our styles or if you have any questions, contact our Customer Service team on 020 8939 3800 or at

Kind regards,

The Willow & Hall team

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