The first step to executing your dream home design is understanding why it works.
Here at Sparetoolz, we’re all about helping make your #homegoals a reality by giving you easy and economical access to the tools you need for every project.
DIY endeavors don’t start with tools, though--they start with inspiration. Having a basic understanding of design principles can make it so much easier to replicate your favorite trends, so today we’ll be providing one of the most important tools in our arsenal: education!
Interior design trends are like a revolving door--in one moment, out the next. A few have endured the rotation and established themselves as widely-recognized design styles.
Most of today’s trends are branches of these underlying styles. The better you grasp the style, the more effectively you can execute the trend.
Without further ado, here is your ultimate guide to the 15 most prominent and popular design styles:
- French country
- Mid-century modern
Top 15 Design Styles: Explained
Taking inspiration from Scandinavian and German design, Modern style dominated interiors for the first half of the 20th century, and it’s easy to see why. Clean lines, sharp edges, natural light, and reflective surfaces such as chrome, glass, and steel make a pretty good argument for peaceful interior bliss.
While some find Modern interiors too clean, too sterile, or too bland, others adore it for its sleekness and calm simplicity. To evoke the Modern muse, stick to a neutral color palette, clear away clutter, and be conservative with curved edges.
Traditional style is exactly that: traditional. Traditional design eagerly trades vibrant colors, funky patterns, and bold statement pieces for sophisticated hues, warm tones, and welcoming furnishings.
Traditional interiors tend to rely on stately supporting architectural details (think crown molding and ornate fireplaces) anchored by an interesting combination of rigid symmetry and cozy furniture.
When it comes to color palette, accessories, and furnishings, the world is your oyster! The key to nailing the Traditional design scheme? Two is better than one. (Remember...symmetry.) Double the lamps, double the side tables, double the rugs...you get the gist.
Photo: Cottage Home Company
🎶Tra-dition-al and Mo-dern, sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g.🎵
Marrying Traditional and Modern elements to produce sleek interiors with a smattering of cozy, old world charm, Transitional style was the 1950s’ rebuttal to the Modern preferences of the decade(s) prior. Transitional design is all about pairing the old with the new, and straight lines with round edges.
To nail a Transitional interior, first ground the space with a neutral color palette, organic textures, and lots of comfortable furniture. Then, strategically install slim, modern fixtures, and other touches. For example, a Transitionally-inspired bathroom might feature traditional trimmed windows, minimalist brushed tapware, and spotless glass shower walls.
Contemporary design borrows elements from other styles typical of the end of the 20th century. With tone-on-tone color palettes, open spaces, and overall minimalist base notes, it might be categorized as Modern design’s soft-spoken creative cousin. However, artistic lighting, loud accent colors, and very light or very dark wooden focal points put Contemporary style in a league of its own.
A charming standby and Pinterest favorite, Farmhouse inspo is everywhere. This picture-perfect design style is inspired by both the interior and exterior of traditional farmhouses, though with a few modern upgrades. (Like, you know...indoor toilets.)
Reclaimed wood, antique accessories, comfortable furnishings, tall, open ceilings, and barnboard details are all typical of Farmhouse style homes. Colors are cozy, but breezy. Think creams, browns, and greys, accented by pale shades of yellow, blue, and green.
What do you get when you dip a Farmhouse in glitter? No, it’s not a riddle; it’s French Country. This elegant interior design style dates back to 1600s France and is still viewed by many as the epitome of sophisticated glam. It’s all about luxury, elegance, and understated opulence. Ooh-la-la.
Cobalt blue and ocean hues, statement fireplaces, and elegant furnishings paired with luxe accessories (such as chandeliers) are frequently found in French Country style homes. If it’s fancy, it’ll fit right in.
Photo: House Beautiful
Although it didn’t become an interior design darling until late in the 2000s, Industrial style’s roots sprawl back to the 1700s, when industrialization was well on its way to Revolution status.
By the 1960s and 70s, workplace safety regulations came calling, and many urban landscapes were left dotted with ghostly mills and empty workshops. Always up for a creative repurposing challenge, American east coast artists were among the first to adapt these massive, decrepit structures into the beautifully gritty homes we know and love today.
Industrial style is inherently utilitarian, showcasing exposed piping, concrete, naked brick, wood, and metal. To ease the potential severity of Industrial interiors, keen interior designers soften them with airy neutral colors, flowy fabrics, and soft furnishings.
Less is more--Minimalism’s mantra. Monochromatic color schemes (often grounded in bright white), clean lines, elegant lighting solutions, and a high level of functionality are all characteristic of the Minimalist style. Keep accessories to a minimum, get liberal with sharp edges, and opt for sleek furniture.
Mid-century Modern is an all-American design style. It was immensely popular between 1945 and 1969 and has remained a go-to style for US interior designers since - especially in the Palm Springs area. With its simple, modern elements, warm ambiance, and surprising pops of color, Mid-century Modern style has a little something for everyone.
This style works particularly well in intimate living rooms, dens, and offices but can be applied anywhere in the house. To achieve Mid-century Modern flair, think clean lines, white walls, organic elements (like solid wood furniture), functionality, and vintage charm.
Photo: Katie Hodges Design
If you perpetually daydream of running away to a cabin in the woods, the Rustic design style is for you. Derived from the primal, necessity-driven lifestyle of our ancestors, Rustic style has been around from time immemorial, but started becoming more refined and modernized in the early 2000s.
A Rustic space is hyper-organic, with no frills and no fuss. Wood is a key component in the world of Rustic interior design; think exposed beams and reclaimed finishes. Round out your Rustic paradise with warm touches like fireplaces, cowhide rugs, and overstuffed white bed dressings.
Feel that breeze? Smell that salty sea? Hear waves lapping against a sandy shore? These are the sensations well-designed Coastal interiors will evoke. (Coastal design has many sub-styles, such as American coastal and Mediterranean coastal, and is not to be confused with Hamptons style or nautical style. It’s a lot, we know.)
Coastal style leverages subtle color palettes and simple furnishings to keep things light, breezy, and relaxing. Lots of white, splashed with various hues of blue, plush seating, barefoot-friendly flooring, and organic accents make daily chores feel like a day at the beach.
Photo: Caroyln Thayer Interiors
If your home is filled with mismatched bits of furniture, clashing colors, and contrasting patterns, you’re well on your way to nailing the Eclectic design style. Eclectic design is based on principles of eclecticism, and very few rules apply. It’s quirky, it’s busy, and it may look completely different from one home to another, depending on the personal taste of the designer.
Eclectic style just about dismisses typical design rules, but some remain. For a room to be considered ‘Eclectic,’ it should be anchored by one or two main colors. Once you have your anchor palette, go crazy with contrasting colors, textures, and furnishings.
Photo: Black Lacquer Design
Free spirits, rejoice! Characterized by creative expression, uncompromised comfort, organic materials, and casual elegance, Bohemian design is flexible enough to resonate with both Millennial wanderlusters and now-established attendees of Woodstocks past.
Essential elements of a Bohemian interior include macramé, tapestries, complex patterns, unfinished wood, botanicals, string lights, and lots of cozy seating. (Floor seating is particularly popular in Bohemian design.)
Photo: Apartment Therapy
Scandinavian design emerged in the early 20th century and became extremely popular throughout Nordic countries in the 1950s. Its effortless ability to marry minimalism and Bauhaus aesthetic has maintained its popularity over time. (Hi, IKEA.)
Scandinavian spaces are packed with cozy textiles, cool colors, low hanging lights, and metallic and wooden finishes. Colors tend to be mostly neutral, with strategic pops of bright color for interest.
A style unwittingly showcased by grannies everywhere, Vintage design is all about breathing new life into old furnishings.
When it comes to color in a Vintage space, the world is your oyster. The key is surrounding yourself with carefully curated antiques, bespoke furniture, luxe fabrics (like silk and velvet), and old-world architectural accents, such as crown molding. Don’t be afraid to go overboard, either--a crowded, almost overstuffed room is part of the charm of this design style.
The world of interior design is unfathomably expansive. Here are some lesser-known, but still well-established, styles you might want to consider:
Hollywood Regency: Hollywood Regency (sometimes referred to as Hollywood glam) is synonymous with timeless luxury. Opulent furnishings, extravagant light fixtures, and bold color palettes ooze flashy elegance.
- Mediterranean: A breezy, romantic style characterized by large, arching doorways, columns, tile, and juicy colors.
Hamptons: Hamptons style might be considered Coastal, all grown up. Cool colors, classic decor, and comfortable furniture all contribute to breezy, understated elegance.
Asian zen: Guided carefully by Feng Shui principles, Asian zen style brims with calming colors, natural materials, clean lines, and highly symmetrical furniture placement.
- Victorian: Quite frankly, Victorian style is about as bougie as you can get. Unapologetically large furniture, textured walls with intricate trimmings, and an abundance of velvet are part and parcel with Victorian design.
If we did our job right, you’re chomping at the bit to embark on a full design overhaul. What are you waiting for? Grab your tools and get moving!