While the written theories, history, and explanations on interior design could easily fill a library, there are many terms often used when it comes to home décor. With the prevalence of home décor shows and publications available to help anyone achieve their perfect, dream-home aesthetic, terms get thrown around that can be confusing, and even incorrect. Please explore this collection of brief explanations for design styles for a deeper understanding of common aesthetic language. For additional aesthetics, refer to our first Design Styles piece.
Far from fussy, a farmhouse style is inviting, casual, and exudes the practicality of everyday life. Items are stylish yet hardy, and delicate breakables are typically eschewed for more sensible options. A neutral palette and similar textiles keep the look fresh, clean, and relevant. Wooden wall details such as beadboard and shiplap are hallmarks of a farmhouse aesthetic, as are wooden floors and wooden ceiling beams. A modern twist is the emergence of barn doors to manipulate interior space. Often painted in a brighter hue as a focal point, these sliding doors bring in the traditional barnyard elements. Likewise, the use of reclaimed wood for tables, walls, or even a mantel is trending. Using vintage heirlooms as décor often work, such as a display wall of simple china or decorative plates as wall art.
However, these traditional elements should be balanced with updated pieces. For instance, farmhouse kitchens often feature butcher block counters and a large apron sink. For a contemporary look, add matte appliances, a pop of color, open cabinetry, or acrylic chairs at the breakfast table. Avoid motifs that create an outdated, 1980s “country kitsch” vibe such as roosters or sunflowers. Make it comfortable, add some authenticity, and throw in some complimentary elements from other styles. Now go hit the flea market for some reclaimed charm!
While minimalism gained its popularity in interior design in the 1980s and ‘90s, borrowing heavily from the modern aesthetic and principles, it is a style that withstands the test of time. Many describe minimalism as “necessary” or “bare minimum.” From an architectural and spatial standpoint, a minimal design includes just what it needs, pared down to keep the design functional. The aesthetic borrows heavily from traditional Japanese architecture and design. Elements often found in a minimal home include the removal of internal walls, the use of transparent materials, and simple yet stylish storage solutions. The idea is quality over quantity, and fewer items in a room often make the space look larger. Surfaces are clear and a heavy focus on the white palette. For visual interest and comfort, textiles vary in texture, instead of color.
With a crisp, blank slate, the inhabitants are able to display a few key items. A sculpture, a large work of art, an interesting rug, or some pottery would stand out much like an art gallery. It is even possible to seasonally rotate items to change up the look , yet keep the clutter non-existent. While messiness can be a sign of intelligence, clutter can cause anxiety. So for less stress, while still keeping a beautiful home, consider paring back, all the way back!
Many grew up in a home decorated traditionally. Traditional design is casual, classic, and predictable. Homes designed with this aesthetic feature crown molding, chair rails, and molded baseboards, often painted glossy white. Ceilings are usually white and color palettes throughout the home fall within a mid-range of tones, with nothing too jarring or bold. The formal dining room as a separate space is more formal in nature, and pieces will often show off crystal or china. Furniture arrangement is logical, the sofa arranged parallel and perpendicular to a fireplace, for instance, and everything fits neatly in a place where it is expected. Those who enjoy this classy and comfortable style will likely purchase lamps and throw pillows in sets of two, for balance and pairing. Textiles may range in color and pattern, but all still go together. A typical sofa would be upholstered, simple, and likely a timeless neutral or muted color.
A fan of home improvement shows or décor magazines is more than likely exposed to a transitional aesthetic quite regularly. Simply put, it is the merging of two design styles, one of which is traditional, in a cohesive design that works. In a way, it is the younger, hipper version of the quintessential traditional home, often featuring clean, modern lines or contemporary tones and patterns. However, it can be difficult to pull so many elements together into a collective look, and this is where interior decorators really shine!
Homeowners want to throw out many of the classic rules while not straying too far from a classic look. Transitional homes often feature a depth of texture and pattern, using materials like steel, rattan, wood, acrylic, glass, and ceramics, while keeping a neutral base for furniture, walls, and upholstery. This style avoids clutter but likely includes more accessories than a minimal or modern home. However, these pieces are carefully curated to achieve a desired look.
For those who lean towards this aesthetic, they may purchase a more modern and sleek dining table and chairs but use a traditional upholstery or window treatments. Perhaps the furniture is comfortable and plush, but the rug is sheepskin and the wall art is a large graphic. The kitchen could feature an island and granite countertops but utilize open-shelving to display classic white dishes. The keys to successful transitional décor are planning and balance.
This design aesthetic is a common one in Texas and works particularly well in older homes or in a sprawling house out on some acreage. The overall look provides a warm, welcoming feel, with plenty of rustic character and old-world charm. Unlike many current trends, this look relies heavily on solid wood pieces that often feature ornate details or carving. The palette is colorful and draws heavily from nature; popular colors include blues like cobalt or oceanic hues, forest and grassy greens, yellows like maize or gold, and rusty reds. Metal elements often have a “used” look, with rust spots or weathering. Floors are commonly stone, brick, or distressed wood, as are the walls.
One quintessential element of the French country aesthetic is a genuine stone fireplace, complete with a large, beamed mantel. The mantel may display items such a copper pots and pans or ceramic pottery. Fill them with fresh flowers, a common item within this provincial, cozy look. Consider utilizing large, sturdy armoires for storage. Rugs and textiles feature more natural, rough, and visible weaves. Real antiques, toile fabrics, elegant mirrors, large statement clocks, and cozy plush cushions help pull the look together.
Last but not least, the rustic touches appear in many of the aforementioned design styles. However, a complete rustic style is masculine compared to most and can be summed up in one word: nature. Homes decorated rustically usually include raw, natural materials, from the building and architectural elements to the accessories and furniture within. Wood abounds, from beams to columns, mantels, and antiques. Chunky pieces and wide planks help define the style. Homeowners often stain ceilings, columns, fixtures, accents, and beams in darker hues or even black. This is the perfect balance against the typical white walls, sometimes paneled with a whitewash finish. The textiles and patterns are often natural Think animal skins, leather, or plaids. Accessories may include antlers, branches, stones, beams, stumps, cotton, or simple plants. The color palette is predictably neutral, but many like a dull pine green or deep rust used as accent colors. Rustic is an ideal aesthetic for those who imagine a mountain lodge as the ultimate home for simplicity, comfort, and relaxation.