interior design styles Explained

With so many styles to choose from, it’s sometimes difficult to know what’s what. Also, if you study interior design, you need to know the identifiers and differences between interior design styles.

Here’s a list of the most common interior design styles and links to the complete design style guides.

Transitional Design Style

In interior design, transitional style refers to a blend of traditional and contemporary styles. It is a versatile and timeless design approach that aims to create a cohesive and balanced look by combining classic and modern elements.

Transitional design usually features clean lines, neutral colors, and simple, yet elegant furnishings. It often incorporates natural materials, such as wood, stone, and metal, and may use decorative accents, such as patterned rugs, pillows, or artwork, to add warmth and texture to the space.

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Contemporary Design Style

Contemporary interior design is a style that is characterized by clean lines, minimalist decor, and a focus on function over form. It is often associated with modern and futuristic design elements, but contemporary design can also incorporate traditional and classic elements.

Contemporary interiors typically feature neutral color palettes, with pops of bold colors used sparingly for accent. Materials used in contemporary design include glass, metal, and natural woods, and furniture is often sleek and streamlined. Lighting is also an important element in contemporary design, with an emphasis on natural light and the use of modern fixtures.

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Traditional Design Style

Traditional interior design is a style that is inspired by classic European decor, with a focus on elegance, symmetry, and comfort. It is characterized by rich colors, ornate details, and luxurious materials.

Traditional interiors often feature warm, earthy tones such as deep reds, greens, and browns, with accents of gold or brass. Furniture is typically made of dark woods, such as mahogany or cherry, and is often ornately carved or upholstered in rich fabrics like velvet or silk.

Decorative elements such as moldings, cornices, and ceiling medallions are common in traditional interiors, as are chandeliers and other elaborate lighting fixtures. Textiles such as curtains, rugs, and tapestries are also important in traditional design, adding texture and warmth to the space.

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Modern Design Style

Modern interior design is a style that emerged in the early 20th century and is characterized by clean lines, minimalism, and a focus on function over form. It is often associated with the mid-century modern movement, but modern design can also incorporate contemporary and futuristic elements.

Modern interiors typically feature neutral color palettes, with pops of bold colors used sparingly for accent. Furniture is often sleek and streamlined, with a focus on simplicity and functionality. Materials used in modern design include glass, metal, and natural woods, and lighting is an important element, with an emphasis on natural light and the use of modern fixtures.

Modern design also often incorporates technology and innovative materials, such as smart home systems and sustainable materials.

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Eclectic Design Style

Eclectic interior design is a style that combines elements from various design styles and eras to create a unique and personalized look. It is characterized by an eclectic mix of colors, textures, patterns, and materials, resulting in a space that feels vibrant, dynamic, and full of personality.

In eclectic interiors, there are no hard and fast rules, and the design can incorporate elements from traditional, modern, vintage, and even global styles. This can include mixing antique furniture with contemporary art, combining bold patterns and colors, and using unexpected materials such as reclaimed wood or industrial metal.

The key to successful eclectic design is balance and cohesion. While the individual elements may be diverse, they should work together harmoniously to create a cohesive look.

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Shabby Chic Design Style

Shabby chic interiors are typically light and airy, with a soft color palette of pastels and neutrals. Furniture is often vintage or antique, with a distressed or weathered look, and is usually upholstered in soft, natural fabrics such as linen or cotton.

Decorative elements such as floral patterns, lace, and ruffles are common in shabby chic design, as are vintage accessories such as antique mirrors, chandeliers, and picture frames.

The key to successful shabby chic design is a balance between vintage and modern elements.

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Chinoiserie Design Style

Chinoiserie interior design is a style that emerged in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries and is characterized by a fusion of European and Chinese design elements. It is a style that celebrates the exoticism and mystery of the Far East, with a focus on intricate patterns, bold colors, and ornate decorative elements.

Chinoiserie interiors often feature a rich color palette of reds, blues, and gold, with decorative elements such as pagodas, dragons, and bamboo. Furniture is often lacquered or painted in bright colors, and fabrics are often richly patterned with floral or animal motifs.

The key to successful Chinoiserie design is balance and harmony. While the design should be bold and eye-catching, it should also be cohesive and harmonious.

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Minimalist Design Style

Minimalist interior design is a style that emerged in the 20th century and is characterized by a focus on simplicity, functionality, and the use of minimal elements. It is a style that celebrates the beauty of clean lines, open spaces, and a lack of clutter.

Minimalist interiors typically feature a neutral color palette of whites, grays, and blacks, with pops of color used sparingly for accent. Furniture is often sleek and streamlined, with a focus on simplicity and functionality. Materials used in minimalist design include glass, metal, and natural woods, and lighting is an important element, with an emphasis on natural light and the use of modern fixtures.

The key to successful minimalist design is simplicity and clarity. While the design should be functional and comfortable, it should also be uncluttered and free of unnecessary elements.

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Mid-Century Modern Design Style

Mid-century modern interior design is a style that emerged in the mid-20th century and is characterized by a focus on function, simplicity, and clean lines. It is a style that celebrates the beauty of modern design, with a focus on functionality and practicality.

Mid-century modern interiors typically feature a color palette of warm earth tones, such as browns, oranges, and yellows, with pops of bright colors used sparingly for accent. Furniture is often sleek and streamlined, with a focus on functionality and comfort. Materials used in the mid-century modern design include natural woods, such as teak and walnut, and lighting is an important element, with an emphasis on modern fixtures.

The key to successful mid-century modern design is simplicity and functionality. While the design should be stylish and modern, it should also be practical and comfortable.

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Industrial Design Style

Industrial interior design is a style that emerged in the late 20th century and is characterized by a focus on raw, unfinished materials and a utilitarian aesthetic. It is a style that celebrates the beauty of industrial spaces, such as factories and warehouses, with a focus on functionality and practicality.

Industrial interiors typically feature a color palette of neutral tones, such as grays, blacks, and browns, with pops of metallic accents used sparingly for accent. Furniture is often made of raw materials such as metal, concrete, and reclaimed wood, with a focus on functionality and durability. Lighting is an important element, with an emphasis on exposed bulbs and industrial fixtures.

Decorative elements such as exposed brick, ductwork, and pipes are common in industrial design, as are vintage accessories such as old signs, gears, and pulleys. The key to successful industrial design is a balance between raw, unfinished materials and refined, polished elements. While the design should be functional and utilitarian, it should also be stylish and visually appealing.

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French Country Design Style

French country interior design is a style that is inspired by the rustic charm of the French countryside. It is a style that celebrates the beauty of natural materials, such as wood and stone, and the warmth and comfort of traditional French design.

French country interiors typically feature a warm color palette of soft, muted tones, such as creams, yellows, and blues, with pops of bright colors used sparingly for accent. Furniture is often made of natural materials such as wood and wicker and is often painted or distressed to give it a vintage feel.

Decorative elements such as floral patterns, toile fabrics, and rustic accessories are common in French country design, as are vintage accessories such as old signs, baskets, and pottery. Lighting is an important element, with an emphasis on natural light and the use of chandeliers and other ornate fixtures.

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Scandinavian Design Style

Scandinavian interior design is a style that emerged in the mid-20th century and is characterized by a focus on simplicity, functionality, and minimalism. It is a style that celebrates the beauty of natural materials, such as wood and stone, and the warmth and comfort of Scandinavian design.

Scandinavian interiors typically feature a color palette of light, muted tones, such as whites, grays, and pastels, with pops of bright colors used sparingly for accent. Furniture is often made of natural materials such as wood and leather, and is often sleek and streamlined in design.

Decorative elements such as clean lines, geometric patterns, and natural textures are common in Scandinavian design, as are vintage accessories such as old signs, baskets, and pottery. Lighting is an important element, with an emphasis on natural light and the use of modern fixtures.

The key to successful Scandinavian design is simplicity and functionality. While the design should be stylish and modern, it should also be practical and comfortable. 

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Mediterranean Design Style

Mediterranean interior design is a style that is inspired by the coastal regions of Southern Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. It is a style that celebrates the beauty of warm, sunny climates and the rustic charm of traditional Mediterranean design.

Mediterranean interiors typically feature a color palette of warm, earthy tones, such as terracotta, beige, and olive green, with pops of bright colors used sparingly for accent. Furniture is often made of natural materials such as wood and wrought iron, and is often ornately carved or decorated.

Decorative elements such as mosaic tiles, wrought-iron accents, and colorful textiles are common in Mediterranean design, as are vintage accessories such as old pottery, lanterns, and rugs. Lighting is an important element, with an emphasis on natural light and the use of ornate fixtures.

The key to successful Mediterranean design is a balance between rustic charm and refined elegance. While the design should be warm and inviting, it should also be stylish and visually appealing. 

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Art Deco Design Style

Art Deco interior design is a style that emerged in the 1920s and 1930s and is characterized by a focus on luxury, glamour, and modernity. It is a style that celebrates the beauty of geometric shapes, bold colors, and ornate decorative elements.

Art Deco interiors typically feature a color palette of bold, contrasting colors, such as black and white, with pops of metallic accents used sparingly for accent. Furniture is often made of luxurious materials such as velvet and leather and is often sleek and streamlined in design.

Decorative elements such as geometric patterns, sunburst motifs, and exotic woods are common in Art Deco design, as are vintage accessories such as old clocks, sculptures, and lamps. Lighting is an important element, with an emphasis on dramatic fixtures such as chandeliers and sconces.

The key to successful Art Deco design is a balance between luxury and functionality. While the design should be stylish and glamorous, it should also be practical and comfortable.

Read more: Art Deco Interior Design

Modern Asian Design Style

Modern Asian interior design is a style that is inspired by the traditional design elements of various Asian cultures, such as Japan, China, and Thailand. It is a style that celebrates the beauty of natural materials, such as wood and bamboo, and the simplicity and functionality of modern design.

Modern Asian interiors typically feature a color palette of neutral tones, such as whites, grays, and browns, with pops of bright colors used sparingly for accent. Furniture is often made of natural materials such as wood and bamboo, and is often sleek and streamlined in design.

Decorative elements such as clean lines, natural textures, and traditional Asian motifs are common in modern Asian design, as are vintage accessories such as old pottery, lanterns, and rugs. Lighting is an important element, with an emphasis on natural light and the use of modern fixtures.

The key to successful modern Asian design is simplicity and functionality. While the design should be stylish and modern, it should also be practical and comfortable. 

Read more: Modern Asian Interior Design

Bohemian Design Style

Bohemian interior design, also known as boho-chic, is a style that is inspired by the free-spirited and unconventional lifestyle of bohemians and hippies. It is a style that celebrates the beauty of eclectic and colorful design, with a focus on individuality and creativity.

Bohemian interiors typically feature a color palette of bold, vibrant colors, such as reds, oranges, and purples, with pops of bright colors used liberally for accent. Furniture is often a mix of vintage and modern pieces, with a focus on comfort and relaxation.

Decorative elements such as mixed patterns, textured fabrics, and natural materials such as wood and rattan are common in bohemian design, as are vintage accessories such as old rugs, tapestries, and artwork. Lighting is an important element, with an emphasis on warm, soft lighting and the use of candles and lanterns.

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Modern Farmhouse Design Style

Modern farmhouse interior design is a style that blends the rustic charm of traditional farmhouse design with the clean lines and simplicity of modern design. It is a style that celebrates the beauty of natural materials, such as wood and stone, and the warmth and comfort of traditional farmhouse design.

Modern farmhouse interiors typically feature a color palette of neutral tones, such as whites, grays, and browns, with pops of bright colors used sparingly for accent. Furniture is often made of natural materials such as wood and leather, and is often sleek and streamlined in design.

Decorative elements such as clean lines, natural textures, and vintage accessories are common in modern farmhouse design, as are vintage accessories such as old signs, baskets, and pottery. Lighting is an important element, with an emphasis on natural light and the use of modern fixtures.

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Coastal Design Style

Coastal interior design is a style that is inspired by the beauty of coastal regions and beachfront properties. It is a style that celebrates the beauty of natural materials, such as wood and stone, and the freshness and brightness of coastal living.

Coastal interiors typically feature a color palette of light, airy tones, such as whites, blues, and greens, with pops of bright colors used sparingly for accent. Furniture is often made of natural materials such as wicker and rattan, and is often comfortable and casual in design.

Decorative elements such as nautical motifs, seashells, and driftwood are common in coastal design, as are vintage accessories such as old signs, lanterns, and artwork. Lighting is an important element, with an emphasis on natural light and the use of beachy fixtures such as rope or wicker.

The key to successful coastal design is a balance between relaxation and sophistication. While the design should be comfortable and casual, it should also be stylish and visually appealing. 

Read more: Coastal Interior Design

Old Hollywood Glam Design Style

Old Hollywood glam interior design is a style that is inspired by the golden age of Hollywood, and is characterized by a focus on luxury, elegance, and glamour. It is a style that celebrates the beauty of Art Deco design, with a focus on rich textures, bold colors, and ornate decorative elements.

Old Hollywood glam interiors typically feature a color palette of rich, bold colors, such as black, gold, and silver, with pops of bright colors used sparingly for accent. Furniture is often made of luxurious materials such as velvet and leather, and is often ornately carved or decorated.

Decorative elements such as geometric patterns, sunburst motifs, and exotic woods are common in Old Hollywood glam design, as are vintage accessories such as old clocks, sculptures, and lamps. Lighting is an important element, with an emphasis on dramatic fixtures such as chandeliers and sconces.

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Southwestern Design Style

Southwestern interior design is a style that is inspired by the traditional design elements of the American Southwest, including New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas. It is a style that celebrates the beauty of natural materials, such as wood and stone, and the warmth and comfort of traditional southwestern design.

Southwestern interiors typically feature a color palette of warm, earthy tones, such as terracotta, beige, and brown, with pops of bright colors used sparingly for accent. Furniture is often made of natural materials such as wood and leather, and is often ornately carved or decorated.

Decorative elements such as Native American motifs, woven textiles, and rustic accessories are common in southwestern design, as are vintage accessories such as old pottery, baskets, and rugs. Lighting is an important element, with an emphasis on natural light and the use of warm, soft lighting.

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Rustic Design Style

Rustic interior design is a style that is inspired by the beauty of natural materials and the simplicity of rural living. It is a style that celebrates the beauty of wood, stone, and other natural materials, with a focus on warmth, comfort, and simplicity.

Rustic interiors typically feature a color palette of warm, earthy tones, such as browns, greens, and oranges, with pops of bright colors used sparingly for accent. Furniture is often made of natural materials such as wood and leather, and is often simple and functional in design.

Decorative elements such as exposed beams, natural textures, and vintage accessories are common in rustic design, as are vintage accessories such as old signs, lanterns, and artwork. Lighting is an important element, with an emphasis on natural light and the use of warm, soft lighting.

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Ski Chalet Design Style

Ski chalet interior design is a style that is inspired by the beauty of mountain cabins and lodges. It is a style that celebrates the beauty of natural materials, such as wood and stone, with a focus on warmth, comfort, and functionality.

Ski chalet interiors typically feature a color palette of warm, earthy tones, such as browns, greens, and blues, with pops of bright colors used sparingly for accent. Furniture is often made of natural materials such as wood and leather, and is often simple and functional in design.

Decorative elements such as exposed beams, natural textures, and vintage accessories are common in ski chalet design, as are vintage accessories such as old skis, snowshoes, and artwork. Lighting is an important element, with an emphasis on natural light and the use of warm, soft lighting.

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Cottage Design Style

Cottage interior design is a style that is inspired by the cozy and charming cottages of the English countryside. It is a style that celebrates the beauty of natural materials, such as wood and stone, and the simplicity and comfort of cottage living.

Cottage interiors typically feature a color palette of soft, muted tones, such as pastel blues, greens, and pinks, with pops of bright colors used sparingly for accent. Furniture is often made of natural materials such as wood and wicker, and is often comfortable and casual in design.

Decorative elements such as floral patterns, vintage accessories, and rustic decor are common in cottage design, as are vintage accessories such as old teapots, lace doilies, and antique furniture. Lighting is an important element, with an emphasis on natural light and the use of cozy lamps and candles.

Read more: Cottage Interior Design

So many Interior Design Styles To Choose From

What is your favorite?


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