Some people describe their decorating style as more eclectic than anything else, simply because they’re not sure what their style is…and what it isn’t. So “eclectic style” seems a safe catch-all category. While there is bound to be a bit of overlap in personal styles, it’s unfortunately not helpful to yourself to throw your sense of decorating style into the miscellaneous. Doing so will prevent you from actually determining what you like, what you don’t, and why. The process of identifying such things is very useful in creating a space that you ultimately enjoy and feel at home in. In this article, we’ll take a brief look at today’s top 10 most popular decorating styles to help narrow down what your true style is.
Contemporary decorating style is often a term used interchangeably with modern style, although the two are different. Modern style is that decorating style that began in the 20th century. Contemporary style, though, is the style that utilizes design based on today’s current trends and styles. Because of that, and the fact that time is ever-changing, contemporary style is fluid. What is deemed “contemporary” in 2018 may not be considered contemporary by 2020, or even 2019.
The beauty of this stylistic fluidity is that contemporary style isn’t contained within the categorization of one particular style. So, for example, contemporary style now may include some curves and softer edges (while modern design prefers straight, clean lines).
Mid-century modern style recalls the style leaps and bounds made in the mid-1900s, specifically the decades of the 50s and 60s. While there is a bit of minimalist style (discussed next) within the mid-century modern umbrella, there’s also quite a bit of flair, nostalgia, and a retro call to the past.
The primary goal of mid-century modern style is to be functional, without superfluous extras or frills. Mid-century modern style utilizes shapes that are organic and also pared down to their most basic form; the egg or womb shaped chair design is a prime example of mid-century modern decorating style functionality.
Minimalist style embraces simplicity, clean lines, and, like its name suggests, the bare minimum required to appropriately handle functionality and aesthetics demands. Every element exudes crispness in shape, simplicity in generally muted color, and fundamentals in materials such as glass, metals, and wood. Minimalism is most often associated with modern and contemporary decorating styles.
Minimalism requires a well-edited decorating hand, as the style demands the use of very little to communicate a lot. Color tends to be neutral and on the paler, airier side of the spectrum. Accessories are few, and clutter is absolutely nonexistent in the minimalist space. Ultimately, a minimalist space thrives on clean lines and pure functionality.
It’s no surprise where industrial style originated – from the raw, urban, warehouse world. Industrial style embraces the beauty of the unfinished, the hard-working worn, and the innermost unglamorous bits. Think exposed brick, ductwork, fixtures, and wood. Industrial style tends to combine elements found in the stereotypical factory or warehouse setting, like metal, old raw wood, and high ceilings with exposed pipes.
Industrial style employs furniture that is functional, but it tends to be on the scant or sparse side of the furnishing spectrum. Color schemes tend to hover around the neutrality of urban life and wood and metal – browns, greys, blacks. Industrial style ultimately combines hard-working elements that often have scars, which are shown off with pride rather than tucked away.
Sometimes referred to over the past years as “shabby chic,” rustic style embraces perfect imperfection, particularly from nature. Wood and finishes are raw, unfinished, worn, and chipped. Nature is present in everything from furnishings to accessories to art – branches stick out from a huge vase by the fireplace, wooden table edges are organic, and chairs are as organic as they are comfortable.
A rustic space involves natural, nubby, or loose weave textiles such as linen, cotton, wool, tweed. Warmth is ever-present in the feel and aesthetics of the rustic decorating style. To keep things from feeling too heavy, though, today’s rustic style involves balancing clean lines and a pale palette with plenty of eye-catching wood surfaces. For example, a contemporary twist on rustic style is to use dark wood exposed beams in an otherwise white vaulted ceiling.
There is a definite rustic vibe to the farmhouse decorating style, but farmhouse (aka French country, cottage, or shabby chic on occasion) style tends to exude more refinement and finish than straight rustic style. Farmhouse style loves a soft, pale color palette with plenty of muted pastels with greyish tones. Wood elements are plentiful in the farmhouse style, but they are less rugged and more finished. Florals, plaids, and other classic patterns find their way into farmhouse style and intermingle based on the thread of a shared muted palette and country vibe.
Handmade elements and accessories, such as pottery, baskets, and slipcovers help to create a definitive fresh farmhouse aesthetic. The softly rustic textural elements of natural textiles and wovens in a farmhouse space breathe a bit of fresh air into a space that embraces other decorative and furniture elements that have a storied past.
Scandinavian style is based on Nordic culture’s nature-loving simplicity. Understated, clean, and earthy, Scandinavian décor combines elements that are attractive to many people’s tastes and lifestyles. Furniture in this decorating style tends to be functional yet artistic, almost sculptural. Color palettes are neutral-natural, with heavy doses of white punctuated with natural elements such as wood. Overall, Scandinavian style thrives on a feeling of spaciousness, natural lighting and decorative punctuations, and a few well-edited accessories.
Wide plank flooring is common in Scandinavian decorating style. Pops of color in this style of airy, nature-inspired interior generally come from bright plastics in one or two eye-catching pieces of furniture, sparse colorful accessories, or artwork, although the framing and matting of said artwork tends to be white or neutral to allow the art itself stand out.
Bohemian style attracts many people, both in interior design as well as fashion choices. Bohemian style is carefree, individual, and tolerant. There are few rules in Bohemian decorating style; the ones that exist point you toward whatever decorating direction brings you joy. Vintage and flea market furniture, world market textiles, beloved collections, and heirloom-inspired light fixtures comprise a solid Bohemian decorating style base. A global outlook is particularly desirable in this type of space.
Bohemian style enjoys breaking typical expectations on occasion. In stead of chairs, for example, floor pillows might comprise the primary seating in a free spirited Bohemian space. A glammed-out chandelier can easily hang above a threadbare flatweave rug, and it will not only make sense, it will be completely attractive. Laissez-faire is the norm and the preference in this more than any of the most popular decorating styles.
Traditional decorating style encompasses an interior that resembles past European tastes. The traditional interior will likely have classic details (e.g., chair rails, crown molding), plush furnishings, and plenty of accessories. Wood elements in a traditional space tend to be dark, rich, finished wood. Textures are varied and sumptuous. And silhouettes are often more curvy than straight, with plenty of details within each component.
Fabrics of a traditional style will more often than not be detailed and elaborate (think: brocade, toile, velvet), which is no surprise for a decorating style that thrives on the abundance of luxurious details. Depth and the dimensionality of layers of details are a trademark of traditional spaces.
One of the most popular decorating styles today might fall within the category of “transitional” style. This particular decorating style involves elements of traditional and contemporary spaces, striking a balance that makes each style feel at home without overshadowing the other. A transitional space, for example, may utilize the materials of a stereotypically contemporary space, such as acrylic or steel, with the more opulent furnishings of a traditional space. This balance and combination of styles is as aesthetically appealing as it is unexpected.
Typically, a transitional decorating style incorporates color palettes on the neutral side of the spectrum. The resulting effect is one of stylish relaxation and calm sophistication…while being inherently friendly and inviting.
Regardless what decorating styles attract and appeal to you, it’s helpful to be able to identify what components make up what styles. This will be beneficial in creating a space that you truly love, because it breaks down the reasons that you enjoy that particular decorating style.