Have you ever walked into a space and wished you could pinpoint what the design style would be deemed as? Is it a mix of French Rococo and contemporary? Or is it mostly rustic with a touch of modern? Art Deco mixed with industrial maybe? You could also be wondering what your own style is and trying to understand the difference between traditional and transitional – the words themselves are similar! It feels even more intimidating when your someone tells you what they like and you haven’t a clue what elements make up that aesthetic. Worry not though! Today we’re breaking down 9 of the main interior design styles and what components go into making a space resemble that classification.
First up, we’re starting with the basics – Traditional. Traditional could be summarized as the culmination of centuries-old French and English designs that have stood the test of time thanks to quality. Generally speaking, the furniture pieces have a more robust feel to them due to the craftsmanship that went into the woodwork back in the day; the wood generally being of a dark stain with a lot of carved details.
Textiles will be on the luxurious side and made of silks, velvets and high quality cotton and linen. Patterns like damasks, florals, stripes and plaid can be found, and even mixed together, for a very layered and warm feeling, whether it’s on the walls, the carpet, sofa, pillows, upholstery etc.
Speaking of warmth, paint would also be on the warmer or even bolder side as impact made for conversation and signified a person’s worldliness once upon a time. Moldings are also an adornment you would find in a traditional space, because again, craftmanship was a highly valued art. Lastly, many spaces hung ornate chandeliers and art to finish off the décor and provide a homely and rich atmosphere.
Could be said that the Transitional design style is a combination of a few design styles like Traditional, Glam and Contemporary because it takes the elegance of Traditional designs and merges with sleek, modern, fuss-free lines to create a sophisticated, updated and cohesive look that can better represent an individual through a refined selection process. Think of it like a new take on an old classic.
Customarily, a transitional space is rather tidy with meticulously selected décor, a fairly neutral palette, unique finishes such as wood, glass, lacquer, rattan, textured fabrics, steel and metal. Art is used but sparingly so and would be impactful versus small arrangements. Furniture is less ornate and more clean-lined and opposition can be found in the curation of pieces selected. For example, a dining room table could have a traditional robust form while its chairs are a more modern style thanks to their contemporary clean line form and cooler toned fabric.
The transitional style truly is a nod to both modern and traditional elements in a very curated, streamlined and unique manner. No two transitional spaces will look alike.
Glam somewhat speaks for itself, it’s a design that is glamorous! Elements that go into making the aesthetic of a glam design quite literally shine, are metallic light refracting surfaces and accents whether it be in the material of the furniture, mirrors, décor, etc. Lucite and lacquered finishes can also be used because of their sleek and reflective properties. Textiles will generally by luxurious to the touch, and fairly expensive, like silks, velvets and high quality linen.
Glam can be done in a minimalistic manner or the exact opposite and be highly elaborate with bold art, many adornments, detailed embellishments, hand-crafted rugs and flashy ornamentation – it just depends on the person. Overall it has a glitzy look, makes a node to classic aesthetics and feels enchanting.
While eclectic design is the mixture of different periods and styles, it is still carried out in a harmonious and meticulous manner.
Just because there are a variety of colors, styles, textures, patterns and forms doesn’t mean a space can’t feel cohesive. It is exactly that juxtaposition that creates the distinctive and noteworthy look of an eclectic space. It can be the mix of old and new, contemporary and vintage, minimalist and extravagant, a geometric pattern with a floral pattern, a wall full of a quirky art collection, a space bursting with color or even a monochromatic space that simply lets a variety of furniture pieces do the talking.
Global influences can also be seen in eclectic spaces, especially when an individual is well-traveled and takes interest in multiple cultures. When designing, this is one space where you do have to tread lightly on not over-crowding or over-using patterns and color. Scrupulous selection is the key!
Definitively, mid-century design is an American design movement that spanned the industries of interiors, products, graphics, architecture and even urban developments. It happened around 1945 – 1969 in a post-World War II era that echoed the new-found possibilities of the Industrial Revolution that happened at the end of the 19th century. Furniture designs were being made lightweight and for the smaller post-war home resident who found themselves moving periodically. It was made of high-quality teak and stainless steel and produced in cheerful, earthy colorways that had texture and made a nod to Scandinavian simplicity.
Nowadays mid-century design can be said to have a retro look that feels practical, fresh, durable and dare we say, fun! You’ll find spaces that have a mid-century flare tend to use natural materials like wood, brick, and stone with abstract prints, patterns and art to bring about the character, while tones of yellow, orange, turquoise, sage and rusts are set against neutrals to create an overall relaxed, inviting and optimistic vibe.
Other characteristics include furniture with hairpin legs, minimal accessorizing, sheer curtains that let the outdoors in, glass, simple lines and cheerful color pops.
The Scandinavian style starts with a shell of white walls generally, in order to emphasize light and uses natural textures like wood and stone with a mostly neutral palette that may have the slightest, and diligently picked, color pop.
You may have heard of hygge which is a Danish word that more or less means “cozy togetherness” and it’s basically a way of life for Scandinavians which translates into their interiors through warm tones, organic materials, textiles full of texture and elements like candles, chimneys and throw blankets. Overall it has a simplistic, not necessarily minimal, aesthetic that feels clean, crisp, inviting and relaxed but still interesting thanks to its innate history that also has roots in mid-century design, the industrial revolution and Germany’s Bauhaus movement.
The industrial aesthetic is a result of old barns, warehouse and industrial buildings having been converted into living spaces. So naturally you would see the use and emphasis on distressed woods, exposed brick walls, iron, steel, raw materials, concrete and an occasional copper element. Most often an industrial space has an open concept with either wood or concrete flooring, unique and vintage lighting made from iron and a sparse selection of furniture and basic upholstery. The industrial style practices practicality, it favors metals and woods, and really embraces exposed, unfinished and utilitarian elements.
Somewhat like transitional style, contemporary design has a refined simplicity to it that feels studious and sophisticated due to the deliberate choices of unique textures, modern lines, and a big focus on a purposeful layout. Furniture tends to look more like a sculpture or a piece of art whether it’s robust or an airy or sinuous curve for a chair.
If there are patterns they are larger and bolder - unlike the small prints of mid-century design – and the color palette can range from monochromatic to a neutral palette with one or two bold pops of color. Unconventional volumes, asymmetry and sleek finishes are what make this less-is-more style feel contemporary!
Making a big wave in the last 10 years or so, the modern farmhouse style came about thanks to the practical needs of many suburban families. It’s really a blend of a few styles like traditional, industrial and coastal because it uses classic architecture and furniture, while also incorporating reclaimed woods, barn house details, and a lot of wrought iron and vintage décor. It feels warm and comfortable while ultimately being highly practical.
Generally, the palette is either warm or cool neutrals of creams, beiges, or grays. Whites and woods are big components that call out this space easily. Plus, a lot of texture is added for both depth and making the house feel comfortable. Because it’s a combination of styles you could see a space that either looks like a barn, or has more of a shabby-chic French country vibe or could even look a little more like they live close to the beach. It really depends on the individual and the shell of the space.