Design Styles Defined

Learn about the most popular styles in interior design, and discover which one fits your home best.

By: Erinn Valencich

Photo By: Regan Wood

Photo By: Dawson Design Group, Inc.

Photo By: Daniel Contlemo

Photo By: D2 Interieurs

Photo By: Photographer: Jeri Koegel

Photo By: Jenn Feldman Designs

Photo By: Jane Beiles

Photo By: Eron Rauch

Photo By: Photo Courtesy: Dan Piassick © 2013 Gibbs Smith, Allure of French & Italian Decor, Betty Lou Phillips

Photo By: Emily Redfield Photography

Photo By: Dan Piassick, Piassick Photo

Photo By: Marisa Vitale

Photo By: Kris Tamburello

Photo By: Tom Marks

Photo By: Sesha Smith, Convey Studios

Photo By: Amadeus Leitner

Photo By: Julie Soefer

Photo By: DRufer Photography

Photo By: Travis J Photography

Art Deco

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.

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.

Asian

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.

Bohemian

Exemplified by designer Justina Blakeney, bohemian design is defined by layers of color, pattern and texture. Rattan furniture, woven wall hangings, lush plants and vintage-inspired throws and pillows are a few key elements of this free-spirited style. Bohemian rooms often boast a collected look, with furniture and decor acquired over time from thrift stores, antique shops and world travels.

Coastal

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.

Contemporary

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.

Country

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.

Eclectic

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.

French Country

Inspired by the casually elegant homes of Provence in rural France, French country design often incorporates distressed woods, aged metals and mixed patterns such as toile, stripes and florals. Blue and yellow is a common color combo, as well as cream, brick red, sage green and lavender.

Industrial

Often seen in loft apartments and restaurants, the industrial design style is known for exposing building elements that are usually hidden, such as pipes, duct work and brick walls. Industrial-style spaces typically feature open floor plans, large windows, neutral color palettes and furniture made from rustic wood, metal and leather.

From: Griffith Interior Design LLC

Mediterranean

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.

Midcentury Modern

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.

Modern

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.

Moroccan

A heavily layered look consisting of intricately patterned fabrics, colorful mosaics, metal lanterns, textured walls, bold, jewel-toned colors, layers of rugs and pillows in luxurious fabrics and ornately carved wooden accents.

Scandinavian

Inspired by the aesthetic of northern European countries like Norway, Sweden and Denmark, Scandinavian design prizes simplicity and functionality over decoration. Hallmarks of this style include neutral colors, natural woods and clean-lined furniture. Rooms are uncluttered and filled with natural light.

Shabby Chic

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.

Southwestern

Originating in the American Southwest, this style blends Native American and Spanish influences. Southwestern design is generally characterized by warm, sun-washed colors, tile, exposed ceiling beams, handcrafted items and bright woven fabrics.

Traditional

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.

Transitional

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. Crate & Barrel and Pottery Barn could be considered transitional looks.

Tropical

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.

Shop This Look