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Style Interior Design Guide

Interior Design Styles: Which One is Right For You?

Pick the perfect style for any room with this interior design guide!  This decorating guide outlines different styles of interior designs with an descriptive glossary of the most popular styles and corresponding furniture styles.

Apartment Style Interior Design

Apartment design can be attractive for its versatility, but it’s also challenging since space is usually tight and very expensive.  A key ingredient in apartment design is the versatility factor itself.  This design concept allows for the freedom of choice to apply virtually any design style.  The floor plan, amount of space or lack of it; is really the major consideration.  Apartment design and small space design overlap as both grew out of the same limitations.

Furniture in this decor can be just about any style of preference, but keep in mind square footage and architectural lines of the space.  Please see “Small Space Interior Design” for more details.

Art Deco Style Interior Design

This unique interior design style is classically retro and suitable for the avid art deco collector.  The style brings together elements of ancient culture with a sleek streamlined, “Machine Age” stylized look from the 1920s and 1930s.  Important components include beveled details, black and white checkered ceramic tile flooring with a strong emphasis on mirror, nickel, and white surfaced furniture. Use black geometric wall art.  If you prefer more contrasting wall color; pink or salmon are the colors of art deco!

Art deco sofas and chairs may be fairly large, upholstered with a stylized fan like design or have a wide ridge upholstered design.  Tables and chests covered in glass are also common. Boxy shapes surrounded by metal frames are common in sofas and chairs in this style.

Asian Style Interior Design

Asian interior design is a combination of influences from Vietnam, Thailand, China, Japan and other less popular eastern influences; although Chinese and Japanese are the most well known of these styles.  Asian design may blend a black lacquered screen with a golden patterned Thai motif or Vietnamese golden temple wallpaper may be applied.  Statutes, figurines, and Buddhas from India, Cambodia and Angkor Wat or other areas can be incorporated to create the overall décor.

Pick the perfect style for any room with this interior design guide!  Use this decorating guide to learn the details of popular styles of interior design and corresponding furniture styles.

Tables and chairs in this style can be highly intricately carved.  Beds can be low to the ground platform style.  For more specific information, please see “Chinese Interior Design” and “Japanese Interior Design.”

Chinese Style Interior Design

For Chinese interior design, red and rust toned orange-red are dominate colors for good luck.  Screens and furniture are typically shiny, black lacquered.  Furniture can be very multifunctional as the adroit futon sofa bed.  Ingredients of nature include bamboo and gentle trickling waterfalls.  Rich oriental carpets anchor the space. Incense holders, Buddhas and silk Chinese fabrics refine the style.

Chinese furniture is generally dark and weighty with carvings or relief.  Chairs can be very ornately carved.  Tables have curvy flowing lines and are often built very low to the ground.

Classical  Style Interior Design

This style draws from ancient Greek and Roman art and architecture.  It’s a quiet, elegant style that requires proportion, scale and balanced order to be successful.  A true classical style sofa may be upholstered in tapestry or damask and have large, firm cushions.  It may have a scrolled crest rail with cornucopia scrolled arms, molded seat and feet with brass overlay paws.

Contemporary Style Interior Design

This interior style features functionality, simplicity, subtle sophistication, texture and clean lines.  Hallmarks of this style are geometry, angles and space rather than “stuff,” so there are few adornments.  De-clutter and edit fully to make this style a success. A wide range of color can be used on a feature wall or a cool toned gray provides a clean backdrop, but the furniture must have straight lines. Silver or glass accessories reflect light, unified collections of objects and artwork in geometric shapes adds intrigue.

Smooth, clean, geometric shapes are essential for contemporary style furniture. Upholstery is in textured natural fibers in black, white, or other neutral tones.  Also natural wool, cotton, linen, silk, and jute textures appeal.  Furniture pieces should be simple without curves or decoration. Sofas, chairs, and ottomans have exposed legs. Beds and chairs usually have no skirt, trim, fringe, or tassels.

Cottage Style Interior Design

A cottage interior takes its colors straight from the sea.  Colors include corals, pinks, greens, white, and sometimes very small bits of yellow. These tones appear in floral patterned fabrics and fresh flowers loosely arranged in simple ceramic vases or pitchers. Combinations of blue and white are also common in this style.

Texture is featured with white painted hand woven baskets from natural fiber and braided rugs.  Bead-board wall paneling or wainscoting provides durability and more texture.  A contrasting mix of shiny and lackluster textures blended with nautical objects, driftwood and other found accents reminiscent of the sea work well here.  Delicate floral, minute geometrics or stripes in wallpaper can be a fantastic personal touch to this décor.

Cottage style sofas and chairs are overstuffed, bulky and very comfortable.  This furniture tends to be in warm toned fabrics or feminine floral prints.  Wooden furniture tends to be very solid and looks lived in.

Country Style Interior Design

Country interiors are garden inspired and focus on relaxation.  This design style is best put together from whatever “Grandma” left in the garage.  Walls are often white washed.  Vintage stripes and floral fabrics with reclaimed furniture works best with this theme.  Home made baskets, bowls, pottery, and jugs with fresh cut flowers from the garden make great accessories.  Hand woven rugs and tapestry lend warmth, color and texture.

Furniture for this theme is about tranquility, which allows much freedom.  Anything antique or worn will fit, but choose furniture with straight lines, painted finishes and very little ornamentation.

English Style Interior Design

English interiors can have a cozy cluttered look.  A room can look crammed with furniture that is not big enough to contain it.  Fabric patterns are a busy hodge-podge, yet nothing is accidental or sticks out of place.  The English decorate with a sense of humor like none other. A classical marble bust can be covered in coats, scarves or hats.  Hats are hard to store, but such a unique solution is fun and practical!

English style sofas and chairs are large, well stuffed, and comfortable.  The frames can have some wood carved details.  Tables and shelves are equally grand, heavy and often have carvings or other ornamentation.

Feng Shui Style Interior Design

Feng Shui or “wind water” is the ancient Chinese method of achieving harmony through the arrangement of objects and space. The goal is to improve the chi in your home with the appropriate use of color, light, touch, smell, taste, plants, pets, photos, art, and movement.

This design style begins with an exercise of jotting down current status and future goals in nine areas of life which are situated on a grid. The location of each area is based on eight compass directions and the center point.  Then understand the five main elements: fire, earth, metal, water and wood have a color, direction and number associated with it.  Each of these five areas is represented by furniture and décor.  The idea is to use the natural element rather than a representation or color for each direction and number for full power.

Some feng shui design rules are to keep the T.V. out of the bedroom, swap the king size bed to queen, and replace photos of single figures with happy couples.  There are rules, charts, grids, directions, and numbers to learn, but luckily many furniture styles can be incorporated into this design approach!

French Style Interior Design

The French interior design concept and Parisian style are fairly interchangeable.  Both approaches could be identical.  French interiors are generally lavish and no expense is spared in creating this theme.  Expensive china, silverware, silk fabrics, creamy walls, golden picture frames, oil paintings, marble flooring, statutes and crystal chandeliers are at home in this décor.  The main difference between the two styles may be regional and inspired by personal elements and taste.  For instance, the Parisian style may incorporate more vegetable motif accessories than the French.

A dinner table in this style could be made of dark wood and have thin decorative legs and pedestal.  Please refer to “Parisian Interior Design” for more information.

French Style Country

Provence wine country is the inspiration behind this style.  It starts with a medium gold toned color on the walls, which is usually paired with rust or hues of cornflower blue upholstery.  Violets and creams in pottery, or ceramics are lovely contrasts and toile fabrics are ideal for this decor. This look requires more formal, heavy, paneled drapery.  A few splashes in an earthy red tone, and patterned wool or cotton rug will bring the look together.  French Impressionist artwork may add an unexpected and unique sense of flare to the space.

A French country wooden dining table may have a large round pedestal.  A chair in this style may have three contoured ladder-back supports with a molded wood seat or a hand strung rush seat.

Garden Style Design

The relationship between indoor and outdoor space as never been as intertwined as it is today.  Bring more unity and continuity between indoor living and outdoor entertaining by utilizing every part of your home!  One of the easiest ways to design a garden is by extending an existing interior style into the outdoor space.  However, contemporary and modern styles lend particularly well to garden design because these styles allow the garden to stand out as the true star.

Garden and patio furniture comes in an assortment of styles, but choose pieces with clean lines and texture to showcase the garden as the focal point.  Tables, chairs, and lounge chairs can be accessorized with cushions and garden pots.  Heat lamps provide warmth and comfort through cooler nights, but they are also an anchoring feature.

Gothic Style Interior Design

This style is enchanting and magical. Your imagination and favorite period piece movie will be your true guide in creating this distinct look of the past.

A chair in gothic style may have a sharp archway shaped backrest containing carved quatrefoils or other elements visible in church architecture of the period.

Home Style Interior Design

Home interiors may be one of the easiest to design as the focus is on individual comfort.  This concept appeals to many design aesthetics since it’s so easily adaptable with existing pieces you may want to keep.  Practically any choice for color, fabric, artwork and accessory will work.

For furniture, just about any style will suffice as long as nothing is too old or worn!

Italian Style Interior Design

Italian and Tuscan interiors are basically one in the same.  There are some geographical differences that occur and personal taste plays an integral role in this décor.  It is possible to go “full Italian” and create a room that looks more like a pizzeria in Rome or Athens than a sophisticated Italian inspired home.  Use colors of the Italian landscape for the walls, marble flooring and oil paintings depicting rolling hillsides of somewhere in Europe.  If over working this design scheme is a concern, display it in smaller quantities with your existing pieces.

An Italian style sofa and chair can be over-sized, over-stuffed and upholstered in cream textured fabrics.  Please see “Tuscan Interior Design” for more details.

Japanese Style Interior Design

Japanese interiors are calm and minimalist in approach.  Natural tones in brown, tan and grey with trim details in gold are particularly favored with this style. Japanese interiors can never have enough luminous paper, shoji screens, light fixtures with rice paper and natural rocks. Bamboo and bonsai plants bring in natural greenery.  Furniture is almost always multifunctional making the futon sofa bed a common feature.  Silk cushions can add a punch of color and richness to this style.

A low to the ground platform bed that may or may not have a wooden or upholstered headboard is typical of a Japanese style bed.

Loft Style Interior Design

The significance is not the distinct design approach for “loft style,” but the physical space itself is the focal point.  Lofts have high ceilings, bare windows, and very interesting architectural lines.  The industrial aspect features exposed wood beams, steel beams, ducts, pipes, concrete or brick.

It is this high-tech modern space that allows for your imagination to explore and design with modern or contemporary principles.  Please refer to “Modern Interior Design” and “Contemporary Interior Design” for more details on furnishing ideas.

Mission Style Interior Design

Mission style interior design places incredible emphasize on wood and specifically Native American oak that has been stained, but never painted!  There are no distracting details and decoration is minimal. This style repeatedly uses beaten copper candle-holders, hand-turned earthenware and stained glass chandeliers into the overall design.

Mission furniture is similar to the craftsman style, but the wood and very special treatment of it sets this style apart.  Chests, shelves, tables and chairs tend to showcase superior craftsmanship with dovetail features that are often highlighted in a darker stain as part of the entire design concept.  The furniture tends to have clean lines, several layers of stain and polish, and it’s built to last forever!  Sometimes delicate carving or subtle inlay can be found in this style.

Modern Style Interior Design

Modern design takes its roots from the organized, minimal approach. The color palette is powerful and ranges from black to pastels.  Straight lines and color are further highlighted with sparse adornments and furniture.  This design style can easily pull off equally bold and colorful paintings.  Yes, color takes centre stage in this concept.  Individuality is brought in with textured cushions, throws, lamps and window treatments.

Modern furniture must be completely streamlined.  The aim is to draw attention to color and art.  The straight lined furniture itself becomes art.

Parisian Style Interior Design

This style is opulent and luminous with an emphasis on shiny textured fabrics with glittering chandeliers, tall silver candle holders, fine china, and butter cream walls.  Windows tend to be thin and elongated with romantic wrought iron Juliet balconies.  Drapery is made of silks or damask and hung in very formal panels.  This style provides a sense of plush, formal, ease.

A Parisian style sofa and chair may have graceful rolled arms and sumptuous serpentine curves of the front rail silhouette. Whatever the design variation, this furniture is certain to be sinuously and elegantly stylish.

Plantation Style Interior Design

Plantation interiors are very similar to tropical interior design.  The inspiration comes from botanical, colonial charm.  Cheerful primary colors to neutral walls can be used.  Wood floors, wood ceiling fans, wood shutters, dark four poster beds and bright floral or geometric fabrics work.

Darker wooden four poster beds are a fantastic choice.  Rattan and wicker sofas and chairs with floral, geometric or animal print cushions are most successful in this style.

Retro 1960′s Style Interior Design

For avant-garde fearless decorators working with a budget, this style flashback will not disappoint!  Select a basic black futon as your starting point. Choose a quintessential 60’s color, such as turquoise for the walls, and accent it with white, glass and silver knickknacks.  For artwork, think of popular shapes of the 60’s, such as the boomerang, or rounded squares and circles.  Find decorative bric-a-brac in thrift stores, Ikea or other Scandinavian stores.

A retro style sofa or chair would be covered in black square shaped leather panels.  It may contain leather covered button details.  The frame is often made of solid steel metal which provides stylish strength and support.  The backrest and seat portion can both be gently concaved.

Rustic Style Interior Design

This style is wilderness oriented.  It leaves elements untouched, natural and unrefined. The style relies on various woods, polished logs, and furniture with a twiggy charm.  Since the rustic approach is achieved with the use of highly textured twiggy wood, an entire space full of it will overwork and overtire the look.  Only use a few small pieces and incorporate them mildly to create this look.

Sofas and chairs in this style are often made with lightly worked logs, twigs or other woods resembling a patio or garden bench, sofa or chair.

Shabby Chic Style Interior Design

This style is vintage inspired romanticism sure to please the tightest budget.  Select white washed furniture pieces that were originally well made.  Essentially this style is created with a clever layering of whites and creams.  A glass chandelier will add sparkle and impact while a wicker chair or wrought iron table will provide texture and help anchor the room.  Accessorize with pale shades of yellow, mint, or pink and incorporate accents through china, pottery and antique picture frames for that vintage look. Sheer, bright, white window treatments are an excellent crisp finish to this style.

A common shabby chic sofa or chair is white or cream and very simple in design with few curvatures and very few decorative details.  Often furniture is slip covered in pale muted pink floral fabrics.

Small Space Style Interior Design

The small space design concept originated from the idea that space is at a premium and this approach makes the best of every square inch!  When a home is less than 500 square feet; clever use of space is essential!  Built-in storage, wall units, shelves and Murphy beds are the norm.  Color ranges from dark to light, but neutrals are preferred.  Any artwork or accessories can be enjoyed, but you can’t have too many oversized pieces.  Keep balance and scale in mind.

Small space furniture design is very forgiving and virtually any style of sofa, chair, and textile will work.  Murphy beds, wall units and shelves can also be in any style, but the rule to keep in mind is scale and balance.

Southwestern Style Interior Design

The wild-west and all its charm is in this interior style.  Hues of orange, rusts and earth tones reflect the landscape. Use a sunny yellow or warm terra cotta for the walls.  Key ingredients are furniture made from rough-hewn, medium-toned wood and Native American textiles to play up the landscape colors for flooring or wall art. Copper, dried flowers and dried wheat complete the look.

Southwestern style chairs are often winged back and covered in leather and cowhide.  Sofas can be covered in leather, canvas, Native American motifs or geometric patterns.

Traditional Style Interior Design

This style is calm and ordered.  Often outdated reproduction furniture is used making this style very easy to accomplish.  Furniture placement is centered, in pairs and predictable.  The color scheme allows a huge dark to soft palette.  Floral fabrics are commonly used, but they are quiet and subdued.  This still remains as one of the most popular decorating styles of today!

Wooden furniture in this style will usually have a mix of straight and curved lines. There may be gently carved embellishments. The pieces often have darker stains, but lighter woods can be used as long as the lines of each piece are classic in nature.

Transitional Style Interior Design

This style is a combination of current contemporary design with a more traditional aesthetic.  Steer clear of innovative contemporary design and anything too restrictive, traditional or outdated.  Choose warm tans and browns for a clean backdrop.  Select classic furniture with slightly rounded lines, and use contrasting textured textiles for interest. Most importantly, use artwork sparingly or not at all.  Anything more would just be too much in this space.

Furniture in this style is a little tricky, but focuses on sturdier pieces in dimension with straight edges that lack the proportions of traditional pieces.  Avoid anything too overdone, carved, formal, “cold or modern.”

Tropical Style Interior Design

Seaside romantic escapes are the inspiration with this style.  It can be created with natural textures, bamboo blinds, wooden floors and wicker furniture.  Ceiling fans, casual flowing drapery, canopy beds, bright floral fabrics and primary colors make this style a comfortable retreat.

White to dark colored rattan and wicker beds, sofas and chairs with floral and animal print cushions are most notable in this style.

Tuscan Style Interior Design

The Tuscan style brings the outdoors in with exposed wooden beams and plastered ceilings.  The earth itself is the source of color inspiration. Terracotta, brick, ochre, greens, blues, and yellow are colors of the region and utilized throughout the space.  Texture is key as surfaces are often left as is when the finish begins to wear off.  Walls are soft white or grey, but Venetian plaster technique is used to add further texture.  Flooring can be wide wooden planks, timber boards, rough stone, terracotta bricks, or clay tiles.  Antique rugs, wrought iron, stone, and copper pots are perfect accessories in this earthy refined style.

A Tuscan style sofa or chair may be in leather or canvas with shiny metal studs as decorative detail.  Also, furniture can be upholstered in rich tapestry with silk beaded cushions trimmed in gold tassels or fringe.

Victoria Style Interior Design

Victorian design is inimitable, ostentatious and stands alone.  This style won’t integrate with anything else, so don’t try!  Ornately carved dark stained woods; over padded and over-stuffed furniture with extravagant and indulgent embellishments is pure Victorian! Textiles are sunset reds and British greens with genre style plant and wildlife artwork.

A chair in this style will have an oval back with mahogany ball and claw feet.  Forest greens, ruby red or wine colored velvet upholstery will adorn it.  Rosewood cabinets with ivory and mother of pearl inlay are common.  Green wallpaper with water silk flowers is a favorite element repeated again and again.

A dark wood coffee table may have an elaborately carved base of fruit, flowers or Bacchus type theme and a marble top.  A tufted over-padded chintz divan with gold trim or gold fringe has a place in every Victorian décor.  Lace, needle-point, doilies, and damask drapery are key accessories in Victorian design.