The fundamental design styles

Style today is all about mixing fabrics,
textures, colours and even themes.  Gone
are the days when everything had to match and one would never even consider the
idea of having two different styles of furniture in one room.  Eclectic mixes of styles, pieces and art are
becoming the norm, making decorating your home more flexible and creative.  The problem is, without some rules where do
you start?

In my last article, we took a closer look
at our existing environments and started to determine our design styles.  Making your home an expression of your own
personal style starts by finding what you love and then applying it in a way
that makes sense.  There are also some
fundamental design styles or themes that can help you through the decorating
process.  Each style encompasses many
more “sub-themes” but the overviews below will help you get a better sense of
your own preferences for design.


Traditional style interior design means
classic lines, matching colours and antique or reproduction antique-style
furniture.  Rooted in 18th and 19th
century English design, this style focuses on understated details, upholstered
furnishings, tailored cushions and soft, smooth edges.  Although it has become modernized over the
years, the basic principles of this design style have remained the same.  Typically, traditional style is formal and
furnishings include dark woods (like cherry or mahogany) and leather in rich
brown tones.  Wood pieces may have carved
details with twists and ornamental claw and ball feet.  Traditional design can encompass a myriad of
themes such as Tuscan Villa (rich textures, earthy tones), Victorian (lots of
accessories, carved mouldings and heavy fabrics) and Georgian (timeless
Wedgewood china, delicate furniture and decorative accents like swags and
ribbons).  The key to making this style
work is to keep things quiet, comfortable, symmetrical and, above all,


Clean, smooth surfaces and an uncluttered
appearance characterize contemporary style interior design.  Contemporary homes feature cool, muted colour
palettes, shiny metal, polished wood and cool tile.  Surfaces are clear and uncluttered and
accessories like pillows and decorative objects are kept to a minimum.  The focus of contemporary design is on space
rather than items.   Art Deco
(streamlined lines, light finishes and lacquer, mirrored and chrome surfaces,
mirrors, glass and acrylic), Retro (whimsical with the kitschy feeling of the
1950s and 60s), and Urban (leather and microfibre, metal and steel details,
concrete surfaces) are all design themes that would fall in the contemporary
category.  The challenge to this design
style is in making a contemporary home feel ‘lived in’.  Adding accents of colour in rugs or accent pillows,
different textures like silk drapes and a velvet throw and adding a few (very
few) well-placed ornaments can soften the space and create some much needed


Country style is a little but rustic, a
little bit traditional and very welcoming. 
This design style is casually elegant that is complimented by sturdy,
practical furniture and colourful textiles and has universal appeal.  Homes decorated in this style have a cosy,
lived-in look and a comfortable, casual ambiance.  Country style encompasses French Country
(sunny yellows, cobalt blues, stone greys, lavender, and deep eggplant with a
predominance of pine furniture pieces), English Country (cheery, garden
inspired palettes, embroidered pillows, delicate china, and accents that
reflect hunting or horsemanship), and American Rustic (rough hewn beams, stone
fireplaces, wide-plank floors, and vaulted ceilings).   The best country style interior design
evolves over time.  By definition, the
look is a collection of separate, often disparate pieces tied together by colour
and fabric.


Transitional style, possibly the most
popular design style today, is a marriage of traditional and contemporary
furniture, finishes, materials and fabrics. 
Timeless and classic, transitional design radiates a comfortable feel.
The colour palettes are subtle and wood tones range from warm brown to
chocolate.  Accessories are, generally,
kept to a minimum with a focus on tasteful, signature pieces.  Fabrics used in transitional design utilize
an abundance of texture and pattern. Patterns are usually tone on tone or small
scale, graphic elements.  Furniture lines
are simple yet sophisticated featuring either straight lines or rounded
profiles.  Using transitional style when
decorating your home allows you to blend the clean lines of a modern sofa with
the soft curves of a traditional dining table. 
The trick is to maintain consistency in your wood finishes and colour
schemes, or you could end up with a space that looks more like a yard sale than
it does a home.

With so many design styles to choose from,
there is definitely a style for everyone.  
Whether your design aesthetic leans to country or contemporary, always
try to add your own personal touches to your space…that’s what really makes a
house a home.

In my next article: he said / she
said…marrying your styles.

Kristen Thomson is Business Development Manager
at Woods Furniture & Design Ltd.

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