Transitional Interior Design Characteristics: A Marriage of  Modern and Traditional Style

Transitional interior design combines modern and traditional styles. It’s one of the most prominent interior design types, allowing for flexibility and timelessness.

If you like the look of traditional homes but feel they’re too stuffy, transitional design is the solution. Here’s a look at how this style came to be and how you can work it into your home.

The History of Transitional Interior Design

Transitional Interior Design

Transitional interior design originated in the 1950s. During this time, mid-century modern style, which focuses on a minimal interior and streamlined furniture, was widespread. Before the mid-century era, more traditional architecture like Neoclassical and Georgian was prevalent. Rather than leaning one way or the other, many designers adopted a “meet in the middle” attitude, merging the two design types.

The definition of transitional interior design is the transition between modern and traditional styles. It has remained popular because it allows for the use of classic layouts and modern elements to keep a space feeling fresh.

Transitional Interior Design Characteristics

Traditional interior design focuses on symmetry and scale while weaving in comfortable furniture with antique pieces. Modern interior design has a more minimal look, with slimmer furniture and natural textiles. Here’s how to fuse the two design styles to develop a transitional interior.

Create a Balanced Furniture Layout

Keep classic, symmetrical furniture layouts in your transitional design. For example, two chairs might sit opposite a sofa to balance the living room. In a bedroom, you might see two nightstands flank a bed to create proportion. Again, creating balance is the goal.

Keep a Soft, Muted Color Palette

A neutral color palette lays the groundwork for pops of color through your accessories. Most traditional and modern interior designs incorporate earthy color palettes with cream, white, beige, gray, and muted blue, green, and yellow tones.

Choose Classic Finishes

Keep the more expensive parts of your design, like flooring, cabinetry, and countertops, classic. Choose finishes that don’t go out of style, like mid-toned hardwood floors, neutral tile, neutral carpet, white or wood cabinets, and stone countertops.

Mix and Match Furniture Pieces

Your furniture can be modern, traditional, or antique, depending on what you like. But it’s a good idea to mix and match pieces. For example, you could choose a modern neutral sofa, traditional armchairs, and an antique coffee table. 

Layer in Trendy Accessories

While taking part in trends is okay, make them accessories you can switch out as needed. Examples include throw blankets, pillows, greenery, and vases.

Mix Curved and Straight Lines

Curved lines, like arched doorways and rounded furniture, are typical of traditional style, while straight lines indicate modern design. So make sure you balance them out. For example, use modern furniture with straight lines if your living room has an arched doorway.

Decorate with Natural Finishes

Natural textiles and finishes like wood, rattan, wicker, leather, clay, and stone add a sophisticated element to transitional-style rooms. But consider keeping decor minimal.


Examples of Transitional Interior Design

Transitional interior design is elegant and timeless. Here’s a look at how these homeowners and designers have executed this style.

Transitional Style Kitchen

Transitional Interior Design
Ashtin Homes Luxury Build and Design Firm

Mixing modern and traditional cabinets but keeping a timeless wood finish is a great way to get a transitional style in the kitchen. The island features a classic look, while the base and upper cabinets have a sleeker, contemporary profile. The natural finishes throughout the room offer an elegant feel.

Transitional Living Room

Hudson Transitional Living Room

All finishes in this room are timeless, laying the ground for transitional style. The furniture has a traditional layout focusing on symmetry, while the light fixture and minimal decor offer a modern update.

Transitional Bathroom

Transitional Bathroom

The blue vanity adds a fresh touch to the otherwise traditional features of this bathroom. While timeless, the tile is a modern herringbone pattern, making the room feel put together without being stuffy.

Traditional Bedroom

Traditional interior design for bedroom

The designer chose a conventional layout and a neutral color scheme for this bedroom. The modern light fixture and blue rug add modernity, achieving a transitional style.