- The Key Principles of Minimalist Interior Design
- Minimalist Design Style Benefits
- How to get the minimalist style look
interior design takes inspiration from a range of different eras and regions. The result is a rich tapestry of colors, materials, and decorating styles that we can draw upon to create a unique home that speaks to us on a personal level.
But, as any interior designer will tell you, it's important to understand which of the many different interior design styles you're going for. This way, you can avoid turning your home into a haphazard headache of random objects that have caught your eye.
Worried that you don't know your eclectic style from your elbow? Confused about the differences between traditional and transitional interiors? You've come to the right place! Keep reading to learn all about the top five interior design styles.
First up, one of the leading interior design styles around - minimalist. Despite its increasing popularity, many people incorrectly define minimalist interiors as stark and cold, believing that minimalism aims to create empty box-style rooms that are far from welcoming.
On the contrary, the minimalist trend is all about stripping spaces down to their essential elements without losing the essence of what makes your home unique, comfortable, and inviting. Influenced by the simplicity of Japanese design, minimalism calls upon the space between the 'things' to emphasize peace and refinement.
The mantra of minimalist design is 'less is more', but what does that mean in practice? Here are some of the key principles to bear in mind if you're considering decorating your home in a minimalist style:
1. Space Makes the Statement - The most important and overwhelming feature of minimalist design is open space. Overcrowding your home with furniture and accessories detracts from the beauty of this open space. To embrace minimalism in your home, avoid adding anything that steals the spotlight from the space around it.
2. Shapes and Textures Add Interest - Minimalist styling isn't about creating a cold, hard environment. Instead, minimalism encourages the use of different shapes and textures to add softness within a spacious aesthetic.
Comfort is as important here as functionality and editing. So, while patterns and prints are big no-no's, different textures are a necessity within minimalism. Natural materials like wood, wool, rattan, and jute are ideal for providing the kind of organic texture that complements a minimalist space. Likewise, the simple act of breaking up clean lines with a round dining table makes your space feel anything but cold and hard.
3. Quality Over Quantity - Since minimalist interior design operates on the premise of including fewer items in your home, choose high-quality pieces that stand the test of time to create a thoughtful, edited feel.
Now you have some idea of what minimalism means, here are some reasons why embracing this look for your home could be the right choice for you:
- Minimalism makes small homes appear more spacious, while minimalist larger homes feel more elegant and refined through well-edited choices
- When done well, minimalist home décor and practices seldom go out of style
- Because of minimalism's focus on only adding well-judged pieces, you can save on bringing in pieces that you don't need
- Minimalist interior design is easier to create than many other interior styles, which come with an array of puzzling design elements to combine in a coherent way
On a personal level, you'll also find that minimalism within your home promotes a sense of calm and organization within your life as everything has its place and every choice is well-considered.
Beyond the key principles that you have to keep in mind, how can you achieve a minimalist aesthetic in your home? Here are some rules to help guide you:
- Incorporate your home's architectural features into your home décor by designing around them instead of concealing them
- You'll need to justify every item you bring into your space to ensure that your collection remains edited and considered
- Apply minimalist design principles to the items you store away by decluttering on a regular basis. This way, it'll be a lot easier to streamline your visible home décor
- Clean and tidy your space every day to ensure that your home remains harmonious and practical at all times
Living by the 'less is more' mantra can be difficult, especially at first. But, it's also the most rewarding aspect of mastering the art of minimalist home decor.
Minimalist Style Colors
Minimalist interiors use a concise color scheme for walls, furnishings, and artwork so as not to distract from the elegant simplicity of a minimalist space. From a refined communal area to a calm bedroom oasis, limiting your color choices to a trio of similar hues allows for a tight and consistent edit.
A neutral color palette along the white, cream, gray, and black spectrum is the most typical within minimalist interior design. This helps ground your space, with the limited use of color serving as a base rather than a feature.
Although, there is scope for working primary colors into your palette in some cases. Large open-plan living rooms, for example, may have enough free space to avoid letting a few bold details such as a colorful yet minimalist painting or a red armchair detract from the room's overriding minimalist look.
Key Minimalist Features to Include
Create a well-balanced and inviting space that stays true to minimalist principles with these key features:
Furniture such as a stylish sideboard or a coffee table with hidden storage can help keep clutter out of sight. But a flip-up storage bed allows you to make the most essential piece of bedroom furniture even more functional. This way, you can avoid the need to devote precious closet space or a chest of drawers to bed linen, towels, guest pillows, and other essentials.
Echo the sentiments of your room's minimalist interior style with a limited collection of similarly minimalist art. But busy pictures full of detail will clash with a minimalist look. Instead, go for simple works of art like those by Mark Rothko, Fong Min Liao, and Ditte Ejlerskov that will complement your aesthetic perfectly.
Even more minimalist than simple artwork pieces, mirrors add interest to your walls without trying to steal the limelight. What's more, mirrors can help a room feel brighter, lighter, and bigger, making well-placed mirrors a great way to enhance a small minimalist space.
Scandinavian interior design is another popular style that has grown in popularity in recent years. Part of the modern interior design movement of the 1950s and 1960s, the Scandi look has since evolved into a cool yet cozy aesthetic that takes its cue from simple colors and organic elements.
Scandinavian living is as much about appreciating home comforts during the long winter months as it is about enjoying the hip cafes, art galleries, and waterfront views of Nordic cities like Copenhagen and Stockholm in the summer. As such, Scandi design urges this meeting of concepts within a space that's perfect for every season and every eventuality.
Above all, keep it clean and serene, play with tones and textures, and add a few choice details to bring comfort and warmth. The result will be a home that's unique to you, but with the universal appeal and inviting coziness of Scandinavian style interiors.
The Key Principles of Scandinavian Interior Design
Scandinavian design is cool and considered, yet the main focus is all about creating warm and inviting homes you never want to leave. Seek inspiration for your own slice of Scandinavian style with these key design principles:
1. Hygge - Since this Danish word entered our consciousness in around 2015, hygge has become a staple reference for keeping things cozy, even in the depths of winter. Various translations and explanations for this popular lifestyle movement range from 'coziness' to the term's old Norse meaning, 'protected from the outside world'. Regardless of how you translate hygge, it's the perfect starting point for creating a comfortable atmosphere that's conducive to enjoying the good things in life.
2. Lighting Is a Life Source - In winter, Scandinavian houses have a very limited amount of daylight. This makes lighting a vital design component and life source in Scandi interiors. Windows are usually bare to invite as much light in as possible, while illumination throughout your home will help create the right atmosphere for plenty of Scandinavian appeal. As well as layering lighting with ceiling lights, lamps, and sconces, using plenty of candles adds to the warm, romantic, and very hygge feel.
3. Cool, Calm, and Considered - Scandi design is warm and inviting but never twee or traditional. Simplicity rules as a way to keep home décor restrained and relaxed. And, while this interior style invites more accessories than minimalist interiors, decorative accents should feature simple designs. For example, floral patterns have no place in Scandi interiors. Instead, stick to geometric shapes, stripes, and polka dots for a cool, considered look.
Reasons to Love Scandinavian Interiors
There are many reasons to love Scandi interior design. Here are a few of them:
- Scandinavian interior design helps even small, dark spaces feel brighter
- The neutral color palette and simple designs of the Scandi look make it easy to update
- The cozy-cool aesthetic ensures your home is warm in winter and a calm oasis in summer
- Thanks to a well-known Swedish store, decorating your home in a Scandinavian style is often a lot more accessible than many other decorating styles
Scandinavian interior design is as much about appreciating what you have and loving your home for what it is as it is about any particular color or design element. As such, it's a great way to approach decorating in general, and a great lesson to live by.
How to Achieve Scandinavian Design
Bring the soothing cool of Scandi design into your home with these tips:
- Create a cozy environment in winter by layering rugs made from wool and sheepskin and draping soft blankets over your sofa and bed
- Let the light in within minimal window treatments or bare windows
- Combine wooden furnishings with metallic accents for an organic, cozy look that also feels modern and directional
- Avoid clutter with minimal shelf arrangements and hidden storage for a relaxing space
Simplicity within Scandinavian style doesn't mean minimalism, although you should still aim to create a curated collection of furnishings and accessories when keeping the design rules above in mind.
Scandinavian Style Colors
In Scandinavian interior design, it's rare to see walls in any other color than white. This helps the furniture and decorative additions stand out, while offering a clean contrast to wooden accents.
Alongside the white walls, a neutral color palette reigns supreme, with grays, browns, whites, and blacks taking center stage. These neutrals offer a clean and soothing effect, promoting comfort and coziness in winter and a calm coolness in summer.
That said, a Scandi color scheme will sometimes include more vibrant shades. Teal, mustard yellow, and orange are particular favorites for Scandinavian homes, although these hints of color would always be subtle and minimal. For example, you might see a sea-green lampshade or a splash of mustard yellow in a geometric carpet design.
Key Scandinavian Features to Include
If done well, Scandinavian home décor should help your home feel cool and effortless, yet relaxing and comforting at the same time. Here are some key features to help you achieve this:
Wall-to-wall carpeting might be the go-to for other cold regions, but carpet feels too traditional and stuffy for Scandi design. Instead, light wooden flooring adds a natural element as well as a contrast to the white walls that are typical across Scandinavian style interiors.
From plants and flowers to wool rugs and wicker chairs, Scandinavian style interiors are all about bringing life into your home with natural materials and organic elements. As well as adding a little color, plants help break up the clean lines that Scandinavian style favors, while warm natural fabrics like sheepskin and wool add the coziness that Scandi style is all about.
One thing you will never see as part of a Scandinavian home décor look is floral print. Instead, graphic, geometric patterns are the go-to, whether they are bold or delicate in style. These patterns can be in the form of a striped rug, a zig-zag pattern on a pillow, or a triangular design on a blanket or throw.
As one of the most established and well-known decorating styles, almost all design ideas find their roots in traditional interior design. That said, it's possible to make traditional style interiors all your own by bringing in pieces that speak to your preferences and personality.
Traditional design draws on the opulent layering and ornate details of 18th and 19th century England and France. This is why luxurious fabrics such as silk and velvet are key features of a traditional living room or bedroom. Patterns range from florals to stripes, to the gingham of a French country kitchen. Meanwhile, dark wood, chandeliers, oil paintings, and decorative mantelpieces fill rooms with character and history.
The Key Principles of Traditional Interior Design
This is not an 'anything goes' kind of aesthetic. Minimalism has no place, while simple silhouettes don't bring enough ornamentation to your home. Instead, traditional decor means keeping to time-honored traditions when it comes to design rules and the kinds of pieces you include:
1. Symmetry - Rooms decorated in a traditional aesthetic are often full of detail and decoration. To stop this from becoming overwhelming, consistency and symmetry are very important elements. With this in mind, it's common to find matching sets and symmetrical displays within traditional design. Whether it's in the form of two identical armchairs facing an overstuffed couch or matching vases at either end of a mantel, this symmetry helps bring balance and restraint.
2. Period Pieces Take Priority - Traditional design favors pieces that bring history and drama to a space. As such, while you can find new pieces that evoke traditional design, it's important to combine these modern replicas with true period pieces for a look that's both individual and informed. You'll likely need to pay for restoration to bring period pieces back to their former glory but it'll be more than worth the time, effort, and cost for a one-of-a-kind design element.
3. A Curated Collection - Decorating a room in a traditional style takes a lot of patience and time. There is no way you could go to one antique fair or one store and find everything you need in one go. As such, your collection should grow over time as you come across pieces that speak to you in a personal way.
Reasons to Love Traditional Interiors
Traditional design is one of the most enduring and popular interior styles. Here are some reasons to consider a traditional look for your home:
- Traditional interior design boasts a warm and inviting feel
- With plenty of room for interpretation, traditional design allows you to create a unique and personal home
- Traditional interiors bring together the best of different styles, meaning that your space will never feel tired or irrelevant
- This design style is familiar and comforting, meaning that it has a universal appeal
Showing appreciation for antiques and traditional features is a great way to celebrate history within our homes, as well as a more sustainable way to approach interior design.
How to Achieve Traditional Design
Master traditional interior design for your home with these tips:
- Choose traditional home decor that highlights your home's architectural details
- No era or design should override another so be sure to mix and match styles within the scope of traditional design
- Go for pieces that fulfill the traditional design trio of requirements: detail, luxury, and elegance
- Take room measurements and save them on your phone. This way, if you stumble upon a stunning art deco mirror or an elegant Louis VI chair, you'll soon know if these items are the right fit for your home
Since traditional interior design is a curated aesthetic that you'll build on over time, it pays to plan out each room so you have an idea of what you're looking to add next.
Traditional Style Colors
Although white trims have a traditional feel, avoid all-white walls. White can appear too stark when combined with dark wooden furnishings and opulent fabrics. Instead, stick to a neutral color palette of beiges and grays to act as a subtle base for your curated collection of furniture and accessories.
You should also avoid black and primary colors as these can overpower a traditional aesthetic. In contrast, bold jewel-toned shades of sapphire, emerald, or ruby bring the right amount of glamour and elegance. Likewise, picking out the navy blue of a Persian rug for your throw pillows or adding a maroon vase to complement your dining chair cushions helps marry different elements together.
That said, try not to include all the colors of the rainbow in one room. A limited color scheme of one or two powerful tones and a few neutrals is the best way to bring both cohesion and drama to a traditional home.
Key Traditional Features to Include
With so much scope for individuality, traditional home décor can mean different things to different people. But, these key pieces that can elevate your space in an instant:
The bare windows of Scandinavian interiors have no place in a traditional style home. Instead, you should dress your windows with decadent curtains in rich velvet, brocade, or dupioni silk. For easy elegance, floor-to-ceiling drapes add the right amount of drama to any room, while tasseled ties provide immediate grown-up appeal.
Living Room Mantelpiece
No traditional living room is complete without a mantelpiece. Mantelpieces help traditional spaces feel more cohesive and balanced, especially when chairs, sofas, and chaises are all competing at the same horizontal level. Thanks to its height and central positioning, a mantelpiece provides a much-needed focal point to decorate around.
It's hard to imagine anything other than a chandelier lighting up a traditional interior. While you can go for something ornate or a little more restrained, only a chandelier will do if you want to stay true to the traditional aesthetic.
While many people refer to contemporary design as 'modern', modern interior design can mean any forward-thinking style from the 1950s to the early 2000s. In contrast, contemporary style is of the moment. Contemporary style is also free from the constraints of modernism's graphic shapes and straight lines.
As an ever-evolving style, contemporary design will likely change over the course of the 21st century. But at the present moment, our renewed focus on creating a calm and comforting home environment gives us the current definition of contemporary design. Minimalism still plays an important role, but the main feature of a contemporary interior is not space, but rather the curated balance of shapes, surfaces, and textures that fill it.
The Key Principles of Contemporary Interior Design
Neither modern nor minimalist, but with more than a nod to both, contemporary design is all about breaking free from traditional concepts to embrace luxurious simplicity and understated elegance.
1. Quiet Drama - Contemporary design exudes elegance and sophistication through its celebration of open space, architectural elements, and clean lines. The effect is calming and serene but never boring, thanks to one or two bold pieces that break the silence with a much-needed dose of quiet drama. A pop of color, an unexpected design element, the glint of metallic details - these are what make contemporary homes the forward-thinking and individual spaces they are.
2. Art as the Main Décor - Avoid too many accessories to ensure the smooth, sleek surfaces that are so important in contemporary design can remain clutter-free. Instead, art is the main source of home décor, where open spaces allow for bold artistic expressions to serve as the room's focal point.
3. Texture Talks - Texture adds depth, helping make a contemporary space feel more inviting. But, to avoid overcrowding, contemporary design encourages you to incorporate texture into a room's essential items.
For example, a plush, architectural sofa in dark gray velvet against bare white walls can feel contemporary and minimal if you hold back on the rugs and throw pillows. Along the same lines, a metal bed frame and silk pillowcases bring texture and interest to your bed without adding anything unnecessary to your bedroom.
Reasons to Love Contemporary Interiors
Are you intrigued by the idea of creating contemporary interiors within your home? Check out these reasons to love contemporary design to see if it could work in your home:
- Contemporary design offers a simple way to achieve harmony between varying styles and materials
- This style celebrates your home's existing elements and architectural features
- A contemporary space feels polished and elegant thanks to the use of neutrals, high-shine surfaces, and dramatic conversation-starters
- Contemporary interior design is a timeless decorating style that is easy to update
Far from being all about the lure of the shiniest new trend, contemporary interiors emphasize luxurious simplicity, ensuring this ever-evolving style still feels classic.
How to Achieve Contemporary Design
Here are some of the key ways to inject your home with contemporary interior design:
- Aim for an art gallery aesthetic, where floors and walls serve as a simple base for statement furniture and artwork
- Use lighting to showcase contemporary home décor and your home's architectural features
- Bring a mixture of textures into every room with everything from metal, stone, and glass to wool and velvet
- Break up clean lines with simple organic features, curved structures, and unexpected shapes
As with minimalist interior design, you must exercise restraint when creating a contemporary space. But, the serene and elegant space you create will be worth the effort.
Contemporary Style Colors
A neutral color palette of grays, blacks, and whites is a signature of contemporary style. Not least because it offers the perfect base to define and ground a room. Painting your walls in these colors also makes it easier to switch around details and update your space when you feel like a change. Using these neutrals as your starting point, you can then bring in bold hints of color through expressive artwork and furniture with added personality.
As for the colors, no single shade reigns supreme within current contemporary design. Although, erring toward more 'grown-up' colors such as terracotta, mustard yellow, and sage green ensures your space will feel elegant and timeless.
Key Contemporary Features to Include
While the features of a contemporary space will likely change over the coming years, these are some of the key elements of both timeless and current contemporary interiors:
Contemporary design brings the idea of stiff, hard, and uncomfortable couches to mind. But these kinds of sofas have no place in our modern lives, where staying in is the new going out and comfort is key. Instead, soft and squishy sofas you can't wait to sink into are the latest must-have feature of any contemporary living room.
Mario Bellini's 'Cameleonda Sofa' offers the perfect aesthetic for making a statement, while other contemporary options include entire sofas made from stacked pillows, beanbag-style couches, and bubble sofas with fluffy covers.
Let a well-chosen piece of artwork do all the talking by going for a bold and contemporary piece in the style of Antoni Tapies or Jackson Pollock. The deconstructed style of these artists is ideal for challenging the concepts of perfection that can pervade contemporary design, offering an ideal conversation starter for a communal room or a focal point for a bedroom.
Glass Coffee Table
A glass coffee table featuring clean lines and a sleek and uncluttered surface is the perfect way to connect your seating area without adding an overbearing block of furniture. Make a statement with a sculptural stone base supporting circular glass, or stick to criss-cross metal legs for a more understated look.
Transitional interior design is the happy medium of decorating styles. Neither too much of one thing or another, transitional design combines traditional pieces with contemporary elements, creating harmony through the use of tried and true styling methods.
Although the idea of an acetate table on a Persian rug seems strange, transitional design makes this combination work by considering the individual shapes and details of the room as a whole. When done well, transitional interiors boast balance through an unexpected mix of styles, creating a welcoming, warm feel that is both relaxing and inspiring.
The Key Principles of Transitional Interior Design
When it comes to perfecting such a heady and visually striking and unique mix, issues are certain to arise when looking to make everything work together while evoking true transitional style.
1. Playing With Scale - With too many focal points vying for attention, a transitional room can feel overpowering. Transitional design overcomes this potential issue by keeping most of the furniture and accessories in a room around the same size. Oversized focal points, such as a statement sofa, wall art, or a dining table, draw you in by breaking up the continuity and adding interest.
2. Common Denominators - The challenge of transitional design is avoiding a mismatched, haphazard effect. By bringing together varied pieces that share common denominators, a limited collection of colors, elements, and patterns can work together in a seamless way without clashing or feeling too similar.
3. Scan the Space as One - A well-realized transitional room will combine the perfect complementary mix of shapes, colors, styles, and textures to ensure that no single object holds your attention for too long. Instead, your eyes should bounce from surface to surface, intent on taking it all in as one.
Reasons to Love Transitional Interiors
Transitional design is one of the most popular looks for a reason. Here are some of the advantages of embracing this look for your home:
- Transitional design avoids locking down your aesthetics to any one era or design style
- Create a more unique and happier home with an interior design style that allows you to express your personality
- Getting the perfect mix right can take time, but transitional design offers you the room to experiment until the mix feels right
- A curated collection of pieces within a transitional room will make such an impression that conversations are sure to continue long after your guests have left
Above all, transitional interior design offers more possibilities to stay true to yourself while allowing you to seek inspiration in a lot of different places.
How to Achieve Transitional Design
Here are some tips for mastering transitional interior design:
- Counterbalance simple silhouettes with abstract, rounded, and unexpected elements
- Keep the eye moving around the room by balancing clean lines and classic styles with more modern hues and furnishings
- Highlight your chosen focal points by keeping the surrounding area more low-key as a way of avoiding too many competing elements
- While each ingredient of a transitional home should stand on its own, when combined, everything should work together to create a rich and well-realized assortment.
Transitional design can be a difficult balancing act to master but the payoff is a unique home that you'll love spending time in.
Transitional Style Colors
It's typical for transitional homes to convey different moods in different rooms by choosing varying color schemes that suit the space's use or direction. Although, working with some of the same tones throughout your home can bring everything together as one.
For a subtle take on transitional interiors, an array of four or five tones of the same color can help make rooms with a lot of eclectic style elements feel more considered. Or, you might prefer to choose a few dark and moody hues alongside a collection of complementary neutrals to help add structure to the room.
Since it's important to keep the eyes moving around a transitional space, echoing key colors throughout each room is a useful tactic. Going for a neutral color palette and then referring back to the colors it includes within patterns, furnishings, and accessories works well to help keep that gaze moving.
Key Transitional Features to Include
While it's difficult to pinpoint the must-have elements of transitional interior design, here are some ideas to help get you started:
What better way to highlight the transitional aesthetic of your room than by bringing a transitional piece of furniture into the mix? Whether you go for a bohemian style option in luxurious velvet or a more contemporary chaise longue, it'll help break up the clean lines of more standardized chair options and add visual interest to your seating area.
Committing to carpet can pull your home too far into the traditional. Instead, stick to wooden flooring and add a selection of wool rugs around your home to help define floor spaces and add some subtle texture. The best part is, if you decide to go in another direction, you can remove the rugs in a flash, creating a whole new feel for the room.
Directional Light Fixtures
Light fixtures are a great way to add a hint of vintage glamour or contemporary cool to a transitional space. Contrasting the general feel of the room with something a little more directional helps stop the room from becoming too uniform. Plus, an intricate chandelier or modern light installation will help pull your eyes up toward the ceiling. This makes it ideal for adding the perfect finishing touch.
The Leading Interior Design Styles to Know
While these interior design styles are far from the only possibilities, they are some of the most popular and achievable options around today.
Of course, nothing's stopping you from incorporating some of your favorite elements and design ideas from each of them to create a unique home that's all your own.
Want more interior design inspiration and decorating tips? Feel free to get in touch today!