Design Styles Defined

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



This style 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. It originated in homes along the Atlantic coast, in which ample windows allowed ocean breezes to blow through, sturdy woods could withstand sandy feet and salty air, and blues and whites echoed the tones of the sand, sea, and sky. The classic Ralph Lauren-inspired palette of navy and white with gold accents is a striking look for any home.



The term modern is often used interchangeably with contemporary, but when it comes to matters of style, they are NOT the same. While contemporary style refers to the decor trends of the moment (modern or otherwise), modern style is 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.



Contemporary is a broad term referring to a dramatic departure from the constraints of traditional style. It favors sparse over cluttered, plain over ornate, and free-form over symmetrical. 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.



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.


Although many people equate traditional with dowdy, this style has nothing to do with being stuck in the past. Instead, it represents an adherence to time-honored forms and motifs that feel familiar and comfortable. Because it’s the look that so many of us grew up with or absorbed in the homes of friends and family, it sparks an instinctive sense of reassurance and order. 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.



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. The transitional look has gained steam over the past couple of decades, as the contemporary glitz of the ’80s gave way to a dual craving for style and comfort. It’s versatile, accessible, and open to interpretation—major reasons for its mass appeal. Crate & Barrel and Pottery Barn could be considered transitional looks.



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.



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.



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.


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.


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.


We want to hear from you, which one do you like? Comment below and let us know!