Defining Your Interior Design Style
Ah, a fresh start! Whether you’re updating your current space, moving into a new one or building your dream home, your blank design canvas awaits! So exciting! What kind of style are you looking to achieve? Can you identify it? If your response is “I don’t know” or “I’m not sure”, you’re in good company. In fact, most of our clients get caught up on this question.
As humans, we’re a visually-intuitive bunch. We often know what we like and don’t like just by looking at it as a whole. But when it comes to describing, defining and piecing it together in the context of our homes, its a different story.
The best place to start is to do some digging, discover the different styles available to us, figure out which ones put a spark in our eye, and use this knowledge to guide our interior design journey. Let’s go!
Discover Which Style is Right for You
Close your eyes for a moment and daydream about your dream home or favourite room in your house. Go ahead, we’ll wait for a minute. What does it look like? Is it colourful and vibrant or soft and muted? Dark and dramatic or light and airy? What does the furniture look like? More importantly, how does it make you feel? Calm and relaxed or energized and inspired? Whatever you just envisioned can be defined with one or more design styles
We’re looking at 5 of our favourite fresh design styles that we use and love in modern homes. We’ll showcase key features of each, so you can easily start adding the elements to your own home, or give your designer an informed starting point as to which one best suits you.
If you’re just getting started on a project, we also wrote this handy article on 5 Questions to Ask yourself before you begin.
Style #1: Scandinavian
There’s no fresher interior design style than Scandinavian. It’s minimalist approach and reliance on natural light put it as a frontrunner for a light and airy design look.
The Scandinavian design movement originated within the five Nordic countries in the early 1900’s as an accessible design style, opposite to the elite Art Nuveau trend of the same era. It’s distinct minimalistic aesthetic is based on the Nordic values of sustainability, utility, and living a simple, family-oriented lifestyle that is void of excess materials. The design style is also a reflection of the climate in Northern Europe, often relying on natural light and the use of soft, plush accessories to add warmth and texture.
A harmonious, unencumbered environment.
Hygge. Pronounced (hoo-guh). A Danish explanation of the feeling you get when you are warm, cozy and happy.
Minimalistic, simple rooms with pops of colour, clean lines, functional furniture, sustainable materials, light and airy feeling but not hollow.
Get the Scandinavian Look:
- Palette: White or light grey, light woods, a sprinkling of either muted or vibrant colours (grey, greens, yellows, pinks), and black as a subtle accent colour.
- Rug: Sheepskin or woven wool.
- Sofa: Grey, white, or brown leather.
- Furniture: Pieces with thin, wooden or metal peg legs, no patterns or carvings, straight cuts and corners, upholstered chairs with wooden frames.
- Accents: Greenery, potted trees, coloured or patterned pillows, blankets & throws, and candles.
- Artwork: Clean shapes or simple, muted abstracts, simple frames.
- Walls: White, light grey, greige, understated millwork.
- Lighting: Jute, rattan, or geometric for a modern direction.
Style #2: Mid-Century Modern
Mid-Century Modern is one of the most popular design styles used in modern homes. It’s a versatile and forgiving style that you can have fun with, as it can be updated with bright colours, or remain classic with rich fabrics and textures. Mid-Century Modern describes the architecture, furniture, and graphic design predominantly from the 40’s 50’s and 60’s, which evolved out of the Bauhaus and International movements of the early 1900’s. After WWII, people were embracing the future and technologies, which is why Mid-Century Modern style is known for incorporating sleek lines (think: skinny, peg legs on dressers and tables) with organic shapes, new materials (i.e. plastic and Formica), and reimagined traditional pieces.
Function before form.
Clean lines, neutral base with pops of vibrant colours, wood, natural light, greenery, gold and metallic accents, and geometric shapes/patterns. Functionality is key so Mid-Century Modern rooms avoid excess trinkets to avoid clutter.
Get the Mid-Century Modern Look:
- Palette: Grey, greige, white, pops of vibrant colours.
- Rug: Jute, brown, grey, greige, high or low pile geometric pattern.
- Sofa: Brown leather or solid-coloured fabric.
- Furniture: Pieces with wooden peg legs or geometric metallic base, wooden credenzas.
- Accents: Greenery, potted trees, gold and bronze.
- Artwork: Abstract or geometric with simple frames.
- Walls: White, grey, stone/brick or a geometric-patterned accent wall.
- Lighting: Rattan, gold or geometric patterned pendant lighting.
Style #3: French Country
French Country draws it’s inspiration from no where else but, you guessed it: the countryside of France. Dating back to the 1700 and 1800’s furniture for the elite was opulent and decorative, only available to the aristocrats. However, the rising middle class in the French provinces drew inspiration from the opulent designs to create less ornate pieces yet maintaining elegance, function, and style.
Sophisticated yet charming.
A warm, feminine, neutral colour palette, curvy furniture lines, ornate detailing, antique or distressed furnishings, and natural elements such as wood and stone.
Get the French Country Look:
- Palette: White, ivory, wood, chambray, lavender, light brown.
- Sofa: Louis XV style or rolled arms, and a neutral colour slip cover.
- Furniture: Classic arm chairs, book cases, and other pieces with curved wooden legs, decorative carvings, and distressed finishing.
- Accents: Gilded mirrors, vases with flowers, Mora clocks, cotton throws, linen drapes and pillows.
- Fabric Patterns: Toile, plaids, gingham, stripes (no more than two).
- Artwork: Paintings of florals and French Countryside with decorative framing.
- Walls: White, grey, greige, natural stone, or an accent wall with one of the fabric patterns above.
- Floors and Ceilings: Wood beans and/or wood floors, natural stone floors.
- Lighting: Crystal or candle-style chandeliers, swirly wall sconces, lantern pendants, candelabras and pillar candle holders.
Style #4: Transitional
Often described as modern with a classic twist, or classic with a modern twist, transitional design became a trend in the 1950’s as an alternative to the streamlined modernism style. The masses were able to afford new furnishings but were still prudent enough to keep some of their existing pieces. Transitional style is a continuum, blending traditional with contemporary, as styles and furnishings transition from new to vintage. It’s blending new design elements with traditional or heirloom pieces from various eras, creating a look that strikes a balance between the past and the present.
Traditional and modern: the best of both worlds.
Overall muted look with dark colours used in accent furniture or focal pieces, a mix of natural materials like wood with metal or glass, and tendency to incorporate larger pieces of furniture in certain areas. For example, transitional homes favour grand sofas and beds as evidence of their preference for comfort.
Get the Transitional Look:
- Palette: White, grey, sand, and brown.
- Floors and Ceilings: Hardwood, patterned tile in small spaces.
- Sofa: Overstuffed sofas, tufted or slightly curved with wooden feet.
- Furniture: Curved mixed with straight lines.
- Accents: Layers of multi-coloured or patterned pillows but not a lot of ornamental accessories.
- Fabrics: Soft suedes, pliable leathers and chenille.
- Artwork: Mixed media art, canvas or traditional framed paintings.
- Lighting: Geometric iron pendants, aged brass or silver chandeliers, multi-arm/starburst lighting.
Style #5: Modern Farmhouse
Rounding out our top 5 favourite fresh design styles is the widely popular Modern Farmhouse aesthetic. This style was made widely popular in recent years and brought to the limelight with popular designers like Joanna Gains. Modern Farmhouse originated in the countryside farms of Scandanavia and Germany in the 1700’s and also draws on some elements from the French Country style noted above. The style eventually made its way to North American farms in the 1900’s as the European population migrated. It’s known for it’s bright, airy, and functional spaces that prioritize efficiency.
Functional for the family
The signature features of Modern Farmhouse design are updated from the traditional farmhouses and are a mix of rustic, vintage, industrial, and French country. It pieces together the best elements of these styles including wood (new and reclaimed), shiplap, mudrooms, shutters, brick, slider doors, simple colour palette, wrought iron accents and lights, and various distressed and reclaimed furniture pieces.
Get the Modern Farmhouse Look:
- Palette: White and black with very few accent colours.
- Floors: Wide plank barnboard or light hardwood (i.e. oak)Walls: White shiplap or vertical paneling, brick accent wall or fireplace, wooden support beams.
- Sofa: Overstuffed sofas, sofas with linen slipcovers or brown leather.
- Furniture: Warm timber coffee tables, upholstered armchairs, distressed pieces.
- Rugs: Sisal or jute.
- Accents: Open wood shelving, sliding barn doors.
- Fabrics: Linen, cotton.
- Ceilings: Vaulted, wooden beams, raised ceilings.
- Lighting: Lanterns, schoolhouse lights, sconces.
By now, you should be able to start describing your favourite fresh interior design style a little better than when you first started readings. The beauty of designing your own home is that you can stick with (and be true to) one style or throw a few elements together from a couple of different styles to form a mixture that you’re happy and comfortable with. At the end of the day, the only style that matters is your own.
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