Design Styles Defined
Learn about the most popular styles in interior design. Discover which one fits your home best.
By: Erinn Valencich
Streamlined, geometric style of home furnishings popular in the '20s and '30s featuring rounded fronts, mirrored accents, sleek lines and wood furniture with chrome hardware and glass tops. Design by Erinn Valencich.
Arts and Crafts
Arts and Crafts style furnishings became popular in the United States between 1910 and 1925. The focus was simple in form, without extraneous decoration, often showing the way pieces and materials were put together. Architecturally speaking, Arts and Crafts covers Craftsman style, work by Frank Lloyd-Wright as well as the bungalow style popularized by Greene and Greene. "Truth in Materials" was very important to Arts and Crafts designers, who often used local materials. Design by Thomas A. Conway.
Inspired by the design elements from Japan, China, Vietnam and Thailand. This look fuses natural fiber elements, bamboo and colors taken from nature to create a serene, calm environment. Furnishings may be lacquered or handpainted with ornamental designs, punctuated with brightly-colored accessories or statues of animals or mythical creatures. Design by Erinn Valencich.
This look is inspired by the ocean. It evokes a light and breezy feel by way of airy fabrics for window treatments, and the emphasis on nautical or beach-themed accessories such as lighthouses and seashells. The classic Ralph Lauren-inspired palette of navy and white with gold accents is a striking look for any home. Design by Layla Palmer.
Contemporary design often has clean, sleek lines and is marked by solid colors, predominantly muted neutrals or bold punches of color in furniture and accessories. Furniture is sleek, lower to the ground and often has metal frames or straight legs with an emphasis on basic shapes and forms. Graphic elements in artwork or as accents work well with this look. Design by Josh Foss.
A rustic elegance is characteristic of this look. Some country looks are marked by extensive use of white wood paneling and soft floral patterns, muted hues and pops of red, black or pure white accents. Floral, checked and striped vintage fabric patterns are standards, and elements have a handmade, rustic quality: wood, handmade pottery, baskets and hand-forged metal to name a few. Primitive furnishings have history to them, and are bought in antique shops and flea markets. Design by Lori Dennis.
This catch-all style borrows from several other design styles and evokes a sense of imagination and surprise with unexpected contrasts. The style is not simply throwing together everything and anything, but rather relies heavily on the building blocks of design (color, pattern, texture, composition) to make the space look cohesive. A multitude of fabrics is characteristic, whether patterned, textured, solids or all three. Design by Andreea Avram Rusu.
A feminine look, with lush rose patterns, extensive uses of greens, reds, pinks and blues are characteristic of an English Country home. Ornamental, fine carved wood furniture, overstuffed sofas with tufting and skirted furniture mix with antiques and lots of small decorative accessories. Design by Phyllis Harbinger.
An ornate, fanciful and decorative style is characteristic of this look. Colors range from rich, sun-drenched Mediterranean hues to softer, muted shades. Often, one color or fabric is repeated throughout the space. It's characterized by rich details and extensive use of gold, bronze and gilt. Antique or heirloom furniture, layered dramatic window treatments and abundant fresh flowers fill out a French home. Design by Camilla Forte.
Inspired by the coastal regions of Spain, Greece and Italy, this look favors colors that echo the sea and also include terra cotta, yellow and lavender. Furniture pieces are short with ornately turned legs and feet; hardware is heavy and often burnished. Velvets, linens and textured fabrics mix with textured walls. Design by Ammie Kim.
A look originating in the '50s and '60s and epitomized by the Rat-Pack days in Palm Springs. Scandinavian designers and architects were very influential at this time, with a style characterized by simplicity, functionality and natural shapes. Architecture shows off its minimalist design with walls of glass. Pops of deep colors such as orange, yellow, olive green and chocolate brown add to decor. An updated version of this look is found at stores like Jonathan Adler, marked by fun, colorful and quirky furnishings.
Rooted in minimal, true use of material and absence of decoration. A clean, streamlined furniture and architecture style from the 1930s. It's characterized by a neutral color palette, polished surfaces, strong geometric shapes and asymmetry. Design by SPI Design.
A heavily layered look consisting of intricately patterned fabrics, colorful mosaics, metal lanterns, textured walls, bold, jewel-toned colors, layers of Oriental rugs and pillows in luxurious fabrics and ornately-carved wooden accents. Design by David Bromstad.
Coined in 1980 by Rachel Ashwell, this cottage-inspired look includes weathered white-painted furniture, painted motifs, floral prints in muted colors, white slipcovered sofas and vintage accessories. A sense of brightness and airiness is always evident in these interiors. Photo Courtesy of Miles Talbott's Shabby Chic® Collection.
Furnishings are usually 18th-century English, 19th-century neoclassic, French country and British Colonial revival. Use of classic styling and symmetry to create a calm, orderly decor. Color palette is usually in the mid-tones and fabrics are muted, usually simple florals, solids, stripes or plaids. Design by Tracy Morris.
The transitional look bridges contemporary and traditional design. Offering a deep rooted sense of history in some pieces, while furniture often gets an update with cleaner lines. Leather ottomans used as coffee tables is very popular in this decor. Crate & Barrel and Pottery Barn could be considered transitional looks. Design by Tracy Morris.
A look inspired by beaches of Hawaii, French Polynesia or other tropical destinations. Thatched furniture, heavy prints of palm leaves and bright colored flowers find their way onto upholstery. Muted colored rugs or sisal and seagrass carpets cover the floor. Design by Linda Woodrum.
Raw, rough hewn woods, inviting fabrics or cozy plaids play up the Western look. Worn leathers mixed with stone hearths or walls and other natural elements. Furniture is usually large scaled and wooden. Design by Shelly Riehl David.