Interior design comes in a range of formats and formulas, with certain styles obviously distinct while others seem to have minute differences between them. If you’re looking to revamp your interiors and looking for a style that matches your own personal preferences, brushing up on the various interior design styles is a good idea. While some people like to mix and match elements of the various designs to make a style entirely their own, others like to create a home entirely of one consistent style. Interior design styles are defined depending on the various features present, including the color palette; style, shape and materials of the furnishings; what kinds and how many decor pieces; as well as the overall experience of the space. Therefore, knowing what sets a design apart from the rest will help you to pick the style that is best for your space and ambitions, helping you to achieve visual perfection with a lot less hassle.
#1 Art Deco
Art deco is an iconic early 20th century interior design style of French origin, which was popularized as the epitome of chic in the 1920s. At its heart, art deco is a style of order, symmetry and geometric lines and patterns. Born from a fascination with African, Russian and Egyptian cultures, art deco includes exotic materials, such as macassar ebony and zebrano woods. Angular patterns, layered designs and curved furniture are all characteristic art deco elements. Other common features of this interior design style include:
- Shiny, chrome hardware
- Brass fittings
- Glossy paint
- Lacquered wood
- Mirrored accents
- Sleek lines
- Lapis lazuli, jade stone and shagreen
- Metal in furniture design
- Most recognizable colour palette: black, white and gold
The minimalist interior design trend began in the early 20th century and was initially influenced by the simplicity of Japanese design and art movements in the 1960s and 70s. Minimalist interior design is characterized by an aesthetic intent on stripping things down to its bare basics in order to rely on the efficiency of the design. Devoid of distractions and clutter, minimalist interiors are stripped down to the essentials to maximize the empty space, which is used to make the design statement. In a minimalist home, color palettes are neutral (whites and greys), furnishings are simple, concealed storage cabinets are common, and the overall space is defined by functionality, ultra-clean lines and a generous amount of natural light.
As the name implies, industrial style draws inspiration from a warehouse or factory. Industrial interior design practices lend a somewhat masculine and minimal spirit to any room and celebrate a modernist approach to style: efficiency and functionality are the primary aesthetic design elements incorporated into industrial interiors. Unlike other offshoots of the Modern movement, industrial style does not shy away from weightiness or roughness, instead embracing worn, recycled and salvaged design pieces. Often seen in restaurants and in loft apartments, the industrial style is known for exposing building elements that are usually kept hidden. In an industrial home, it is common to see:
- Exposed beams
- High ceilings & open floor plans
- Metal light fixtures
- Sparse, functional furniture
- Abstract art or photography (to add a dash of color to an otherwise neutral color scheme)
- Reclaimed machinery
- Furniture made from raw woods, unfinished metals and leather
- Large windows
- Neutral color palette
- Statement lights
Bohemian style is one of the most popular interior design and fashion styles since it represents a carefree lifestyle and a philosophy of living unrestrained by any conventional norms of contemporary society. The individuality associated with bohemian style is expressed in its interior design, as well.
Bohemian style homes can include a mixture of vintage furniture pieces, globally-inspired decor items and exotic finds sourced from flea-market treks and travels. Boho interiors are typically characterized by an eclectic mix of accessories and colors that, at first glance, have no coherence whatsoever in design features or color palettes. With boho style, there is a laissez-faire attitude where anything goes as long as you love it, the space is busy (in terms of number of items, their shapes and forms), and the furniture is an intriguing mix of weathered and updated, modern pieces. Thus, in a bohemian style home, it wouldn’t be uncommon to find:
- A mid-century chair
- Well worn, tribal print rugs
- Glamour pieces, such as crystals or beaded fabrics
- Flamboyantly patterned prints
- Tasseled, colorful pillows
Traditional interior design is best represented by quintessential, 18th century English decor items and furnishings, 19th century neoclassical designs and a revival of French Country style. Traditional interior design utilizes classic styling to create calm, orderly decor; contemporary light fixtures as a conversation-starter; rich color palettes; and elaborately-designed furniture pieces. In a traditional style home, it wouldn’t be uncommon to see:
- Button-tufted Chesterfield sofa
- Wingback chair
- Dark upholstery or leather
- A Persian rug
- An abundance of accessories
- Dark, finished wood
- rich color palettes
- A variety of textures and curved lines
- Furnishings with ornate details, patterns, textures and fabrics (like velvet, silk and brocade)
Transitional interior design style is a fusion of both traditional and contemporary interior design styles. Traditional and transitional are similar in sound, and so you might be wondering what is traditional vs transitional style. What makes the transitional interior design style stand on its own is the combination of traditional furnishings and modern elements that keep a room from looking too much like one particular style. The transitional interior design style creates a sense of balance by celebrating the minimalist trends of contemporary style and simultaneously focusing on comfort, which is typical of traditional interiors. Crate & Barrel and Pottery Barn are both considered transitional looks. In a transitional home, you can find:
- Plush, solid furniture of larger size and robust structure
- Neutral & monochromatic color palette
- Modern materials, such as steel and glass
- Minimal ornamentation
- Clean lines
- Traditional features, such as the use of button-tufting, nailhead trim and existing architectural features such as fireplaces and cornicing
- Common furniture choices include tuxedo sofas, upholstered ottoman coffee tables and elegant console tables
- Curated accessories, such as abstract artwork, art glass and unique objects
Rustic interior design style draws inspiration from a combination of farmhouse and industrial interior design styles. This interior style incorporates unfinished elements like wood and stone, emphasizes weathered-looking finishes and a highlights a varied mix of statement-making furniture items. Rustic design incorporates accessories from the outdoors and architectural details that include features like vaulted ceilings adorned with wood beams. Common features include custom plush sherpa sofas, industrial-inspired wire pendants and unique leather chairs. Overall, the rustic style has that irresistible charm of a family home in the countryside.
The rustic style color palette varies from darker shades of brown to whitewashed tones and neutral colors. Rustic decoration features handcrafted pieces and salvaged or repurposed items made of wood, leather, natural fibers, wicker and wrought iron. Furniture items are sturdy in structure, have a classic design and are made of dark-stained timber and upholstery of rough materials or natural leather. They can be somewhat chunky and weathered, and can often include wicker and rattan materials.
Though the words “modern” and “contemporary” are often used interchangeably in American English vernacular, the two are distinct when it comes to interior design styles. The contemporary interior design style is distinct in that it describes designs based on the here and now: it is a more fluid interior design style that is completely of the moment, with less adherence to any one particular style. By definition, the contemporary interior design style is current, and is therefore an ever-evolving palette that expresses the trends and tastes that are popular at any given time. Thus, it is more difficult to accurately describe the contemporary interior design style as a set of given ideas or traits; however, as a design style, the contemporary approach diverges from the modern aesthetic by presenting a more balanced approach to interior design.
Since mid-century modern is currently in fashion regarding interior design, contemporary designs borrow heavily from this style. The current look of contemporary interior design is described as “luxury modern,” which often has clean, sleek lines; solid colors with muted neutrals or bold punches of color; sleek furniture with an emphasis on metal frames, straight legs; and basic shapes and forms. Other common features of current contemporary style include:
- Sofas and armchairs that are well-designed and comfortable, and are upholstered in lustrous velvets and chenilles.
- Coffee tables that are understated, simplistic or monolithic.
- Installation lighting.
- Specialist wall cladding and flooring.
#9 Mid-Century Modern
The mid-century modern interior design style is one of the most prolific interior design styles of all-time, borrowing from the best of the 1950s and 60s for a clean, retro, Danish-inspired look. Functionality and minimalistic elements are main features of the mid-century design, emphasizing pared-down forms, natural-looking shapes, contemporary designs and simple fabrications. The mid-century modern style is a notably American style that was popularized by the designs of Florence Knoll, Vladimir Kagan and Milo Baughman. Jonathan Adler represents an updated version of the mid-century modern look. Common mid-century design elements include:
- Vivid use of color, such as orange, yellow, olive green and chocolate brown. Canary and mustard yellow, carnation and flamingo pink, chartreuse, pale turquoise and avocado are quintessential mid-century colorings.
- Crisp lines
- Interaction with nature and the outdoors
- Simplicity, functionality and natural shapes
- Architecture with minimalist designs
- Fun, colorful and quirky furnishings
- Plenty of wood (such as rosewood, teak and walnut) and rusty metals
Coastal interior design style is inspired by organic elements in and around the ocean. Traditionally, coastal interiors feature seaside accessories, nautical motifs and distressed woodwork. Today, coastal interiors adopt a more contemporary approach with subtle hints at seaside living without overdoing it. The coastal look is relaxed, unassuming and evokes a light and breezy feel by way of airy fabrics and natural materials. Common features include:
- Light color palettes with cool, neutral tones and shades of blue and green
- Furnishings that are often white or beige
- Wood elements or accessories inspired by the sea
- Blue and white striped patterns (nautical) for pillows and blankets
- Large windows
- White plush sofas
- Painted white wood
- Natural light
- Breezy, white draperies
#11 Shabby Chic
Coined in 1980 by Rachel Ashwell, shabby chic is a cottage- and vintage-inspired interior design style that tends to be very feminine, soft and delicate. This interior design style gained massive popularity in the mid-1980s and 90s and is rooted in French, antique design. Shabby chic furnishings are either distressed or appear that way, shabby chic paint tends to have antique-style finishes, and shabby chic color palettes tend to include white, cream and pastels. Light fixtures and wall hangings can be ornate to add to the overall feminine vibe. Shabby chic style combines traditional interior design elements with farmhouse touches. Common shabby chic elements include a white, overstuffed sofa; distressed, painted wood; and ornate gilt touches like a gold French mirror.
#12 French Country
The French country interior design style is inspired by the casually elegant homes of Provence in rural France. Common features of the French country style include warm, earthy colors; ornamental, wooden furnishings; and natural materials, like stone and brick. The French country design often incorporates distressed woods, aged metals, and mixed patterns, such as toile, stripes and florals. Common color combinations for French country are blue and yellow, as well as cream, brick red, sage green and lavender.
Vintage interior styling can be incredibly versatile and, contrary to popular opinion, is not about recreating a flea market in your home. Since not everything old has vintage charm, this interior design style is more about paying homage to the 1940s and 50s: in the aftermath of WWII, people tended to mix and match materials, working with whatever was available to rebuild their homes and create inviting spaces. This “mix and match” aesthetic expresses a contrast of patterns and motifs, while the color palette is usually light and in neutral tones with vivid color only used sparingly for impact. The best vintage interiors avoid excessive clutter by only including key vintage pieces.
#14 Hollywood Glam/Regency
Hollywood glam is an interior design style that tends to be luxurious, over-the-top and dramatic. Popular in the 1940s and 60s, and from the 1990s until present, Hollywood glam style is a fun interior design style that blends art deco-inspired pieces with high-polish, glamour elements. This interior design style is inspired predominantly by the glamorous residences of the cinema’s Golden Era movie stars. Also, Rococo and Chinoiserie elements are commonly used for inspiration in Hollywood glam interior design. Common features of the Hollywood glam style include:
- High-contrast color combinations
- Grand chandeliers
- high-gloss black or mirrored casegoods
- Skirted boudoir upholstery
- Metal furniture and mirrors
- Victorian design, including velvet furnishings and antiques
- Clean lines
- Ultra-glam notes, including crystals, mirrors and high-shine surfaces and finishes
This post was written by Kara Roberts, blogger and content writer for Canvas Vows. We specialize in creating custom made canvas prints and have been featured in a number of publications, including Brides. For more interior design tips, gift ideas, anniversary celebrations and personalized canvas creations, check out our blog!