My take on that? No one wants to live in a furniture museum. At least I haven't met that person. Everyone I have ever worked with has asked for a home that's stylish, personal and comfortable.
So, when I am putting together a modern room for a client, I work on making it layered, colorful and fun.
Rooms should have a life to them and always tell your story.
Here are a few of my simple steps that may help you add some modern flair without your rooms looking like a velvet rope and an admission booth should be installed at the entry.
1) Go Sleek. Bring in some larger pieces (like a sofa) in a clean profile. It really allows you to build around that with almost anything.
2) Color. Even if you are not adding it with your furniture find ways to bring into the room through artwork, flowers and personal accessories that add a layer of interest.
3) Mix Textures. Everything doesn't have to be sleek. You can start your foundation that way, but it's OK to add some woods with character for warmth. Even a vintage or traditional piece can work in a modern space. Especially if it's a statement in a room filled with clean lines...like a family credenza or traditional high back chair.
4) Pattern. Find ways to bring in some pattern so that your solid furniture choices stand out even more. You can do it with pillows, an accent chair or with your rugs and drapes.
5) Layer. Build out from your center. What I mean by that is, create your main area of where the furniture you need to have in the room lives. Then, continue to build out from that with accent furniture, lighting, accessories and other items that could work for you in the room. You can always edit things out that don't look right.
6) Whimsy. Even in a serious modern space there's always room for fun. Add things that make you and your family happy. Maybe it's creating an art wall and among the more "important" pieces, your kid's art is framed and showcased as well. OR maybe it's the flea market paint by number find. However you choose to add some design fun into your room do it with gusto.