Looking to decorate your new home and seeking thematic inspiration? Search no more. We’re covering interior design styles that are popular in modern homes.
In reality, practitioners blend different elements from several decorating styles together, but it’s crucial to identify the core aspects of each one. Interior design comes in a range of formats and formulas, sometimes utterly distinct and other times with only the subtlest of differences. Yet each presents its own flavour, finish and experience that render a space in unique chapters of inspiration, history and creative endeavour.
Therefore knowing what sets different interior design styles apart may be a lot handier than you might realize, ensuring you pick the perfect style for your space and ambitions, and helping you achieve visual perfection with a lot less hassle.
Obviously, there are interior design styles beyond, but I wanted to focus on the major schools that are currently in vogue. I will keep this list updated every year – removing those that may have fallen out of favour and adding new ones. Also, if you’re looking to add a new piece or two to your home, Where we can, we made collections for the following interior design styles to simplify your shopping. I’m also creating a series of guides on how to achieve each look in detail, with inspirational images, furniture and decor recommendations, and more! If you want to be updated on when these new guides are available,
Different Interior Design Styles for Your Home
1. Traditional Interior Style
Traditional interior design style stems from a variety of old-school European styles and together are now referred to as “traditional”. Elements of this design include:
- Reflects classic European decor,
- Elaborate moldings and wood paneling,
- Built-in cabinetry,
- Elegant furnishings and antique pieces,
- Pairings of furniture and accessories,
- Neutral palette with vibrant colors for furniture and accent pieces,
- Expensive textiles like silk, velvet, cashmere or comfy fabrics like cotton or linen, and
- Intricate tile and wood floor patterns
Our traditional home decor style guide includes an extensive photo gallery that includes all rooms of the home.
Traditional interior designers are those that are heavily influenced and inspired by the old European décor that gained popularity, particularly during the 18th and the 19th century. They are big on heavy furniture and fittings that are still very stylish and elegant.
This type of interior design is perfect for those who love decorations and styles that have a rich history behind them for instance, classic art pieces, antique elements, and symmetrical objects.
Some key markers or features of the traditional interior designs include rich tones, dark woods, and sophisticated colours. The most distinctive feature is that the walls are often painted with neutral colours so that the furniture and decorative accents can be highlighted. The ‘traditionalist’ also loves creating intricate architectural details like wood panelling, coffered ceilings, in-built cabinetry, etc.
One of the most vital aspects of traditional interior design is ‘symmetry’ which means that everything from sofas to lamps to accessories has to be in pairs. The underlying idea behind this is that there should be a balanced space centred on a focal point, which is usually the television, a decorative art piece or the fireplace.
2. Modern Interior Style
Modern style for interiors is more popular in the media than in real life. I think people appreciate the look of it and it’s definitely cool, but when it comes to living in the more austere design, people opt for warmer home decor styles such as rustic, cottage or traditional.
Nevertheless, builders and architects are incorporating modern elements into many homes which is kind of cool; but moderating it with materials, angles and lines that add warmth.
Key attributes of modern interior design style include:
- Absence of ornament,
- Intentional asymmetry,
- No clutter or chaos,
- Neutrals with primary colors and bold color contrasts,
- Geometric-patterned or plain area rugs,
Furniture pieces have clean lines and basic shapes, made of materials like metal, chrome, or glass and are streamlined with polished, smooth and sleek surfaces,
Art, rather than accessories, and
Open floor plans
Modern interior designers are also described as super “sleek” since they have an unparalleled love for simple palettes and designs that are often coupled with clean, crisp angles, and lines. They absolutely hate clutter and always strive towards removing extraneous objects from the picture.
Their designs are fresh, elegant and have a sense of simplicity in every style that they create. Unlike contemporary designers, they love adorning spaces; however, they do it with such skill and subtlety that you won’t even realize there is something “extra” in the design.
Modern interior designs also include elements and materials that provide you with an overall warm and comforting feel without being too loud or bold. One of the most distinctive characteristics of these interior designers is their tendency to use monochrome palettes. Black and white are usually their go-to colours, often with hints of other primary colours like blue, yellow and red.
3. Contemporary Home Decor Style
The contemporary design style is often confused with modern design style… usually references to modern are in fact contemporary design.
Contemporary design is a current design that includes open spaces, plenty of light, straight lines, plenty of glass, steel and wood and in some cases unusual layouts.
Elements of contemporary design:
- Open spaces or open floor plans,
- Unusual layouts,
- Use of natural light,
- Neutral colors,
- Metal accent pieces,
- Textured and natural fabric,
- Very light or very dark wood tones, and
- Lighting design used as an artistic statement.
Contemporary designers create designs that are more fluid, in the sense that they are according to the current, trending styles; however, they don’t resort to a particular style or design. These designers also have a great sense of what’s currently in style so their designs are constantly evolving and carry a very modern touch to them.
In today’s time, contemporary interior designs include unadorned spaces that appear to be super clean and classic, along with furniture that is exposed from its legs to create more space. As stylish and modern contemporary designs may be, they are yet super elegant with intricate details kept to a minimum.
4. Transitional Interior Design
Transitional living room home decor example
Click here for transitional decor styles
The transitional interior design style is an elusive style that spans multiple styles tying traditional or long-standing styles together with modern or contemporary design elements. It’s extremely popular right now among designers. In fact, it’s very easy to confuse contemporary with transitional and in fact, for both types, it’s often easy to argue a particular interior design is one or the other.
Transitional interior design elements include:
- Curved furnishings with straight-lined lacquered finishes,
- Limited use of accessories,
- Use of impactful art as focal points,
- Neutral color palette, and
- Textural elements such as wood, glass, lacquer, rattan, fabric, steel and metal.
5. Mid-Century Modern Design Style
Midcentury style is a package deal. While some homes can have a different exterior style to the interior, that doesn’t really work with midcentury. The midcentury home must be midcentury outside and inside.
It’s a distinct look with clean lines, sparsely furnished, often not terribly large (but can be) and of course, give off the 1950’s and 1960’s nostalgic look.
I had the privilege to do a driving tour of mid-century homes in Palm Springs and even managed to check out some open houses of a few mid-century homes. They are definitely cool.
These interior designers take you back to the 1900s with some of the most iconic interior styles and designs. Mid-century modern interior designers offer you a unique blend of minimalism and a kind of an ancient retro look. The main theme followed by these designers is “fussy-free” which is usually accompanied by crisp, simple lines, rusty metals, a lot of wood, subtle silhouettes and hues of blues and greens.
These designs are believed to be break-free from traditional design conventions that have taken a direct plunge into the modern era.
Some typical designs adopted by mid-century modern interior designers include simple fabrications, pared-down forms, moulded plastic plywood, and natural-shaped furniture like an egg-shaped chair, for instance. Their styles and designs are often somewhere along the lines of ‘contemporary’ and are super versatile, which makes the transition simply flawless.
Shabby-chic is big these days with the popularity of vintage and DIY home decor. While I don’t want to say shabby-chic is a full crafty style, there are definitely craft elements that people like such as distressed furnishings, floral prints and design elements and whitewashed floors… all of which are popular DIY projects in the home. You can view and select the best of the DIY Memes now as well. Interesting isn’t it?
Main shabby-chic design attributes:
- Decor has a soft, feminine feel,
- Vintage fabrics and items,
- Distressed and painted furnishings,
- Whitewashed and pickling floors,
- Pale palettes, and
- Floral prints.
The Shabby Chic interior designers draw quite a significant chunk of their inspiration from the vintage designs and styles; however, they are more focused towards creating feminine, soft and delicate designs.
Most of the furnishings used by these designers appear to be distressed and aged and contain a very antique kind of a finish. The aim of this type of interior designing is often to blend together features of contemporary and modern styles with a scruff and ragged finish.
Some key elements include wall hangings, flimsy light fixtures, linen textiles and a mixture of white and pastel colours.
7. Industrial Interior Design
Industrial design became popular in the 1990s as many North American city centres started enjoying a refurbishment by converting old manufacturing facilities and warehouses into condos and multi-unit residential buildings. Instead of covering up or removing all the remnants of the space such as brick walls, exposed pipes and electrical wires and putting in interior walls, developers created large, open units preserving the old floors, walls and keeping much of the pipes and wiring and beam exposed resulting in what is known as industrial home decor.
The key elements of industrial interior design include:
- Raw and unfinished look,
- A mix of grays, neutrals and rustic colors,
- Utilitarian objects,
- Large sectionals,
- Antique or light fixtures with metal finishes,
- Use of vintage and old factory and laboratory pieces,
- Wood and metal surfaces, and
- Concrete flooring.
Industrialist interior designers make everything about exposed and raw materials. As the name suggests, the majority of their inspiration is drawn from things like an urban loft or perhaps an industrial warehouse.
Some of their key elements include dangling metal fixtures, high ceilings, sparse furniture pieces, and stripped back floorboards. This type of designing is mostly all about obtaining a cold, eerie look. However, many designers may use statement lights or pieces of abstract art and photography to add in a pop of color and delicacy.
The industrial interiors are often described as ‘truly rustic and mature’ considering it thrives on the liberal use of wooden elements and exposed steel.
Have you picked out your favourite type of interior design yet? You can even mix up elements and features of different designs and give your home a whole new look.
8. Eclectic Design Style
Eclectic design is a showcasing of contrasting elements including colours, furnishings and materials. It can easily be overdone to look terrible, but when done well, the contrasting aspects can be tied together to create a cohesive and attractive design.
Main design attributes:
- Varied palette with a few grounding neutrals,
- Different pieces in the room are tied together with paint, fabric or a more refined or roughed-up finish, and
- Defined by contrasts and variety.
Eclectic interior designers are best described as diverse and playful since they love mixing new styles with the old ones and creating something absolutely fresh and unique. They tend to borrow ideas from a variety of different trends, styles, and also from different time periods. These designers are all about breaking the rules and having a little fun of their own.
Eclectic designs provide a great canvas for designers to work their magic on and come up with something outstanding. From the looks of it, one might think of these designs as haphazard or chaotic, however, there is a very fine line between aesthetically pleasant eclectic designs and those that are merely created without any measured motifs or themes.
While eclectic designs are indeed very assorted and kind of like ‘all-over-the-place’, they still have a sense of balance to them and are a true definition of a ‘cohesive blend of designs, colours and patterns.
9. Beach/Nautical Style
Beach style kitchen design with splashes of bright colours.
Click here for beach home decor
In my view, the beach style should be reserved for houses on the beach. It’s kind of odd to have a nautical themed home in the burbs. This style includes light colours with splashes of bright colours such as navy blue and even bright colours, loads of natural light (i.e. windows), nautical accessories such as rope, dark wood and other items found on boats and wicker or rattan furniture.
- Light and breezy,
- Nautical-themed decor,
- All white backdrop; borrow colors from sand, surf and shells;
- Décor crafted from natural fibers and organic materials,
- Wickers tools, rattan furniture and beds with a natural oak frame, and
- Window coverings
Nautical interior designs are best described as positive, warm, and relaxing. The primary reason is that they always make you feel like you are near the ocean. Interior designers who follow the nautical theme typically make use of elements like sea creatures, ships, and anchors. Their colour palettes are also full of those that you would see on the beach, which is why the nautical style is also referred to as the “beach-inspired” look.
These designers strive towards making your home truly comfortable by using an abundance of white, blue, and sand-coloured foundations, along with inexpensive wooden furniture and hues of oceanic blue.
Some key characteristics of nautical designs include chic linen upholstery for lounges, unfinished wood used in chairs and tables, and sea-inspired decorative accents like jute ropes, seashells and rowing oars.
10. Farmhouse Interior Design Style
The farmhouse is similar to a country or rustic design styles except that it’s typically lighter, incorporates some shabby-chic, enjoys plenty of natural wood and gives an aura of a cozy feel.
Main style elements:
- All white look,
- Dominant fireplace,
- Large kitchen and dining place,
- Open shelves and cabinets,
- “Company” parlor and “family” sitting room,
- Cozy fabrics, natural materials and textiles,
- Vintage, reclaimed or heritage accessories,
- Vintage, shabby chic furniture with a rustic flair,
- Tongue-and-groove paneling, shiplap and butt boards,
- Even ceilings with exposed reclaimed beams,
- Barn doors,
- No to glass, and
- Wide plank floors.
11. Mediterranean Interior Design Style
Mediterranean style living room and kitchen.
The Mediterranean is a style that seems more popular than it is. A few years ago I was under the impression a lot of homes embraced the Mediterranean style, but in actual fact, it’s not that widely used. It’s distinct with plenty of ornamental styling and features including columns and arches. It also has a distinct color scheme being earth tones.
Main style elements:
- Ornate features including furniture
- Tile and brick
- Earth tones
- Large furniture
- interior balconies
- Tall ceilings (not always, but it’s no uncommon)
12. Craftsman Style
Key interior style elements:
- Open floor plan: This is definitely a much desired design feature today and so it makes sense the Craftsman is a very popular design for contemporary homes.
- Plenty of built-in wood elements such as cabinetry, fireplace mantles, bookcases, etc.
- Plenty of handcrafted woodwork including exposed ceiling beams.
- Use of natural materials such as wood, stone, brick, glass and tile.
- Plenty of windows.
- Color scheme: earth tones and plenty of wood.
13. Scandinavian Interior Design
Important design elements:
- Predominantly white,
- Bright colors combine with the main white color,
- Large mirrors,
- Principles of symmetry,
- Furniture pieces are functional and stylish but not too trendy and contemporary,
- Use of light colored wood and warm colors, and
- Light wood flooring dressed up with rugs in subtle color.
- Inspired by the simple lifestyles in the Nordic countries, Scandinavian interior designers provide timeless interior designs and styles that are greatly characteristic of the fjords, snow, and mountains found in those countries.
Their designs are a true representation of pared-back coziness, a myriad of textures and some clean, refined lines. They are beautiful works of art, but always so simple and subtle. Scandinavian designs are big on space, fewer accessories, natural light flowing in, and minimal furniture that serves some purpose.
This take on the interior style and design follow the “Bauhaus principles” that make use of fluid lines, all-white colour palettes, wide plank flooring and a strong focus on object proportions. The designers also ensure that they use playful accent colours, organic materials and gentle contours. Scandinavian designs are best described as modern, practical and uncomplicated.
14. Rustic Style
Important rustic design elements:
- Exposed ceiling beams,
- Use of reclaimed wood,
- Exposed stone wall,
- Wooden flooring,
- Cowhides, sheepskins and simple neutral-colored natural fabrics,
- Distressed and handcrafted items,
- Wood-burning fireplace, and
- Prominent staircases.
Rustic interiors are truly raw, often with unfinished elements that are typically made of stone or wood. Interior designers who follow the rustic theme derive most of their ideas, styles, and designs from natural inspiration and also tend to include accessories that mostly come from the outdoors.
Most of the accessories they use consist of elaborate architectural details and dramatic features like reclaimed wooden floors and perhaps, ceilings that are decked with wood beams.
The main focus of rustic interior designers is on raw, natural, and unrefined elements that are bold and blatantly real. These designs also have quite an earthy and organic touch to them. Many people consider rustic to be really dark and heavy, however, there is a trend of ‘modern and contemporary rustic’ that has been making waves lately and it is a fresh, light, and grounded take on the ‘original’ rustic theme.
15. Asian Design
Important Asian interior design elements:
- Altar-like alcoves,
- Reference to nature,
- Chinoiserie furniture,
- Natural materials,
- Clean lines,
- Circle motif,
- Orchids, and
- Use of curtain walls, door panels or Japanese tokonama.
16. Tropical Interior Design Style
Important tropical design elements:
- Open plan layout,
- Safari-themed, jungle or beach vibes,
- Passive cooling,
- High ceilings,
- Light and breezy,
- Ceiling fans,
- Monochromatic and light, reflective color scheme,
- Predominant green nuances,
- Accessories and furniture made of tropical woods or natural materials,
- Fabrics and textiles with palm leaves or animal motif,
- Plenty of indoor plants,
- Figures and statues of animals, and
- Wooden flooring with a red carpet.
17. Southwestern Style
- Casement or recessed windows with ornamental grillwork facing the street,
- Mix upholstery finished and textiles,
- Bold, vibrant, warm colors (orange, red, gold, yellow, blue and desert-toned neutral hues),
- Accessories made up of dark-colored cast ironmongery, candles, dried flowers, sculptures, animal skins, pottery pieces, etc.,
- Painted wood furnishings built with thick legs,
- Large wall murals, and
- Floors made of rustic brick or terra cotta tiles or mosaic with patterned rugs.
While not terribly popular these days, the Victorian style is used in older homes by homeowners looking to preserve Victorian era homes, of which there are many in the United States.
The following sets out some key design elements of the Victorian style:
- Asymmetrical designs;
- Vibrant colors
- Decorative trim;
- Textured wall surfaces with complex patterns from wall-to-ceiling wallpapers to luxurious fabrics;
- Elaborate and massive furniture;
- Extravagant accessories; and
- Bay windows, sometimes with stained glass panels, walk-out versions or built-in bench.
As the name evidently implies, minimalist interior designers are truly simple, low-key, and unfussy. They thrive on the principle that goes like; “less is more” so they take some of the best and simplest modern designs and simplify them even further
While not technically an established design style, we list it because it’s a style people look for. There are styles that are minimalist such as modern and midcentury design styles.
Minimal interior styles and designs consist of ultra-clean lines and streamlined furnishings that have nothing flamboyant or glitzy about them. They also pick on-air and neutral color palettes that provide a great sense of warmth and coolness to the eyes.
The minimalist trend is believed to have been started sometime during the twentieth century and was initially influenced by the super simple and delicate Japanese designs. Modern minimalist interior designers always make use of black, white, and primary colours. Their designs are truly simplistic and nothing less than a work of art.
Like minimalism, vintage isn’t an established interior design style, but it’s also a look that people want so we include it in our list.
While they come off as old-fashioned, vintage interior designers have a great aptitude for versatility, creativity, and imagination. They create absolute primary pieces that always tell a story and seem to have a rich history.
Vintage interior styling focuses on minimal clutter and puts forth a very clean, crisp, and classy display of furniture, decorative accents, and designs. These interiors also often include old frames and photographs that are usually black and white in order to give the entire space a very old yet stylish look. You may also see a variety of open shelves in most vintage designs that allow one to show off their classic vintage accessories and items.
Bohemian interior designers are known for their use of those interior pieces that seem to possess nomadic and ethnic vibes. They also love playing with vibrant colours and rich patterns that appear to be bold and loud.
An interesting yet key characteristic of these designers is that they purposefully make things look messy so you will often find them mixing around different colours and a variety of elements like pillows, throws, rugs, etc.
The Bohemian-style interior is also a true representation of the avant-garde lifestyle that is known for its adventurous and carefree spirit. So, these designers also try to display these features in their styles and designs.
Some trending modern bohemian designs include those inspired from southwestern, Moroccan and tribal styles that may typically consist of animal hides, metallic accents and wood.
22. Hollywood Glam
Undoubtedly, the Hollywood Glam interiors designers are by far the most modern and stylish of all. Their key characteristic is that they are super luxurious and over-the-top in their interior designs. They love to create big and bold statements with the help of dramatic and opulent design styles.
Most of their styles and designs consist of Victorian inspirations with antique furnishings, plush and velvety elements, and magnificent decorative accents. The color palettes used here are usually very bold with beautiful blends of turquoise, reds and purples.
The Major Difference Between Architect And Interior Designer:
Now we’ll tell you the main differences between the two professions:
- What they do: Architects design and deliver the complete building. A designer tries to create the desired look/mood/feel within the building.
- Where their expertise lies: An architect is trained to build a structure that abides by certain codes, rules and measurements, while making sure the building is functional. Whereas an interior designer takes care of creating appealing interiors that are suited for its inhabitants.
- Basic requirements that they focus on: Architects focus on more technical aspects like form of a building, direction, materials, etc. An interior designer focuses more on aspects like human wants and needs, functionality of the space, and aesthetics.
- When should you approach the two? This is based on the requirement. If you have a structure ready and need to decorate the interiors, then you should hire an interior designer. However, if you have an empty plot and need to construct a building from scratch, or need to renovate, then you should hire an architect. Therefore, for a new home, you will need both professionals – one in the beginning, and one after construction is complete.
- Charges: Charges by both professionals are relative. Some charge a percentage of the project value, while others charge a lump sum. It also depends on the size, value and type of project. The charges may vary between 6-15% for both professionals. Sometimes, you can your architect can provide interior expertise as well. So make sure you ask!
- It would also be good for you to understand during the initial stages what the scope of each professional’s work will include. Have we made your decision-making easier?