While many interior design styles exist, not everyone fits into just one category. More people are favoring an eclectic blend these days based on a collection of existing furniture and accessories. Those items may mix various styles and can combine to create aesthetic diversity in your space.
As an interior designer, blending styles is where I find my greatest challenge and satisfaction. Combining what a client already has with accents such as waterstone faucets will create something new and exciting enabling us to create a unique style tailored to the individual.
When I work with my clients, I draw inspiration from one or more of five different styles, incorporating elements of each to achieve the look and feel you want.
Nothing says refinement like traditional style, which derives its inspiration from the classic European décor of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Some of its hallmark features include:
- deep wood tones
- tapestry patterns
- heavy fabrics such as damask
- accessories made of brass or bronze
One of the most important facets of traditional design is the silhouette or of the furnishings. Wing-backed chairs, claw-footed tables, and bow-legged furniture pieces are a few examples. Common models for traditional furniture are pieces attributed to the Queen Anne or Chippendale styles, and antiques are also often integrated into this design style.
Though brimming with elegance, traditional design also tends to emphasize simplicity and comfort. Pairings of furniture and accessories are common in this design scheme creating a sense of symmetry around a focal point, such as a favorite work of art, a fireplace, or a large piece of furniture.
Recognized by it’s strikingly beautiful style and clean, uncomplicated nature, a transitional design features furniture lines that are simple yet sophisticated with either straight lines or rounded profiles. Fabric is diverse as well with medium to large scale graphic patterns on overstuffed sofas or textured chenille on sleek wood frames.
The transitional palette relies on a lack of color to evoke a serene atmosphere. Dark brown can add depth and balance to neutral colors such as tan and vanilla.
We take a semi-minimalist approach with carefully selected accessories. These might include a potted orchid gracefully arching in front of a window, white mats that set off photographs in simple black and silver frames, or an oval wooden tray that provides a resting spot for similarly shaped silver candleholders. This kind of grouping provides a quiet punctuation to the furniture. De-emphasizing busy decoration keeps the focus on the simplicity and sophistication of the design.
Interior design in the contemporary style provides a softened, rounded look to combat the stark lines of modernity. Soft contemporary interiors are characterized by neutral elements accentuated by bold color, or glamorous elements, such as beading and glass, but the focus is always the basics of line, shape and form.
The typical contemporary color palette relies on brown, taupe, cream, and pure white while fabrics or accents are luxurious and tends to have a higher sheen. We also use dashes of bold color on single walls or incorporated within decorative accessories, such as artwork or decorations that tend toward the abstract like a bent piece of wood found in its natural state or crystal agates or geodes.
Furniture is often shapely rather than angular and exhibits smooth surfaces and clean lines with minimal decoration. Case pieces (non-upholstered items) with minimal graining, such as maple and birch, and featuring satin, glass, high gloss finishes, stainless steel, or chrome finishes round out the look. Soft and supple leathers, low sheen velvets, or silks are often found adorning upholstered items. Bold colors – such as teal, fuchsia and emerald green – along with dynamic geometric patterns are common accents for interiors.
The keywords for extreme contemporary style are bold, geometric, and original. Furniture and accessories may feature exaggerated linear features or unexpected geometry such as a chair shaped like a question mark or a circular bed.
Interiors contain intense splashes of bold color – cobalt blues, reds, blacks and whites – while focusing on the basics of line, shape and form. Upholstery almost always includes leather and low-pile suede.
Extreme contemporary design’s minimalistic nature emphasizes spacious rooms with a limited number intentional furniture pieces and details. The eye goes to each separate entity in a room and lingers there. Shape prevails over purpose and makes the most of shiny surfaces that might include high gloss lacquer, glass or acrylic encasements, and high sheen metals like chrome or high polished brass.
Floors are usually solid in color with subtle, if any variation in their wood, stone or tile. Light fixtures may feature colored glass and/or high-polished metals.
Any artwork present is large, usually abstract and exists in singular pieces rather than in multiples, to omit the cluttering effect that this style seeks to avoid.
Industrial design is associated with an “urban loft” look. Often used in city apartments, modern homes and commercial spaces, this style showcases neutral tones, utilitarian objects, and lots of “worn in” wood and metal surfaces.
This look combines an industrial feel with a range of other styles, from the earthy to the polished. It can include such elements as exposed ceilings, brick walls, lots of steel accents, metal to mimic steel bars or rebar, wood that may be raw or aged with metal accents attached, or even exposed pipes and ducts.
In most suburban homes, these are features that people try to conceal, but it’s what the industrial design celebrates.
Accessories can include exposed Edison bulbs and wire framed with no fabric. Colors are darker, and embrace ranges of navy blues, grays, browns and blacks while furniture upholstery is leather or a more visually rigid fabric.
If you feel that your space needs to be defined by one specific style, consider this an encouragement to develop one of them or a nudge to embrace eclecticism and merge your favorite styles together!
If it’s difficult to execute this on your own, a professional interior designer can create the perfect blend of your individual tastes and current décor with the appropriate balance of styles elements to represent you.
Now go ahead; dare to think out of the box and show the world your most stylish self!