A big piece of the puzzle comes together when decorating your home just as soon as you recognize the importance of creating “thematic expressions” – basically designing each individual space inside your home according to a rule sets or influences from a particular style or aesthetic.
Sure, you could go completely off the wall with a crazy, eclectic, and almost an eccentric style – and that’s definitely a path some people choose to go down.
But if you’re looking for something more cohesive, something more congruent with your personality, and something that really resonates with you so that you end up creating a home you feel is a true expression of yourself and your personality you want to stick to some of the major archetypes like the ones we break down below.
Obviously, there are dozens and dozens of other interior design styles than just the ones we touch on in this quick guide. But as long as you stay focused on these mainstays you will be able to start “coloring outside the lines”, so to speak, and coming up with your own aesthetic that is 100% yours and truly individualistic.
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The shabby chic interior design language is red hot right now, particularly with people looking for something a little more authentic, little more grounded, and a little bit more “real world” compared to some of the other interior design styles that can come off somewhat phony, sterile, and like a property was pulled right out of a furniture or design magazine.
The whole concept behind shabby chic decor is to emphasize “flea market finds”, the kinds of pieces that are going to add a lot of character to a space compared to pieces that are brand-new. You’re looking for things that are little bit aged, a little bit distressed, and a little bit worn and weary.
The more character in individual piece has the more emotion it has, the more story it has, and the more style it has – at least when it comes to shabby chic. Even just a couple of shabby chic pieces in an otherwise soft and opulent space can create something really special.
The coastal design language for interior decoration is very warm, very inviting, and about as relaxing and as positive as you are going to find.
The kinds of homes that you can seek out for inspiration for this kind of style are going to be found in beach towns all over New England and down the East Coast, particularly in and around the Carolinas. These are the kinds of homes that have that old world cottage style feel but are very heavily influenced by the sea, by saltwater, and by the kind of living that happens when you’re out by the water.
Different shades of white and sand should be used as a foundation in these kinds of designs, with every color and every shade of blue you can imagine acting as a primary accent. Unfinished wood or lightly finished wood is always a big favorite, and the more nautical you can get with your decor elements the more coastal your home will feel.
Industrial style is red-hot in urban and suburban locales are like, but it particularly feels at home in the city – for obvious reasons.
Industrial interior design aesthetics are going to look like day have been pulled right off of the assembly line, with a rawness, and almost unfinished element to them that you don’t usually find in other styles. Exposed brick, exposed plumbing and ductwork, and open framing are some of the elements that you’re going to find in industrial styles for sure.
When you think of a classic New York City loft or a warehouse that has been converted into living spaces you can immediately picture industrial styles.
The Hollywood Regency style of interior design was most popular throughout the 1940s to the 1960s, but it’s really starting to see a resurgence in the last couple of years. This is a timeless and classic style that has a throwback to a simpler time and a more glamorous time, and the kinds of homes that are designed with this kind of inspiration feel like they belong to Hollywood superstars of the Golden Age of Movies.
Art Deco pieces feel particularly at home in a Hollywood Regency designed property, and French furnishings, superclean lines, and punches of almost unbelievably bright and bold colors here and there are hallmarks of this style as well. Anything that brings a lot of energy is going to be welcome with this aesthetic.
The Bohemian approach to interior design is always popular and for good reason – it’s about as relaxed, as “fuss free”, and allows a tremendous amount of creative freedom in a way that a lot of other styles simply do not.
Pretty much anything exotic, anything opulent, and anything “over-the-top” is going to feel right at home in a Bohemian style property, sitting alongside vintage and brand-new pieces from all over the world (or at least designed to look that way).
The idea here is to create the kind of home that a gypsy would love to call their own – if they were willing to settle down in the first place!
Tapestries, wallcoverings, and art should be a little bit “out there” and anything but conservative and necessarily contemporary. Crystals, light fixtures, and other color elements should be chosen to portray a spectrum of vibrancy that elevates the energy in every single Bohemian space.
The Scandinavian style is super clean, super uncluttered, and borderline minimalistic while at the same time combining as much in nature (or nature reflective) elements as possible.
Another big piece of the puzzle with Scandinavian interior design elements is the importance of functionality above almost everything else. Choosing pieces for their form or their beauty alone is a major faux pas in the world of Scandinavian design, and every piece that gets added to a Scandinavian interior should be able to “pull its own weight”.
Whites, grades, blues, and certain greens feel right at home in Scandinavian style. Lightly finished wood is another major addition to this aesthetic, and punches of color can be added with smartly chosen art and textiles as well. Balance is the name of the game when it comes to Scandinavian style.
A lot of folks end up settling on a more transitional interior design aesthetic without even realizing that they are doing so, mixing and matching more traditional design elements and more antique design elements with modern and contemporary pieces.
The idea with a transitional design language is to keep every space fluid and to stop it from looking like it is a part of anyone specific aesthetic. Different elements are combined together to create something with character and opposition, not in the cluttered and sometimes eclectic way of the Bohemian style but instead in a more ordered and structured way that gives it the transitional field and flavor.
Relaxed spaces that focus on the transitional style are usually most successful. When pulled off correctly, transitional homes in interiors can feel very warm, very inviting, and very “homey” without any specific design language attached to them.
At first blush it seems like hitting a homerun with a minimalist design language would be about as easy as it gets – especially since the whole idea with a minimalist interior is to cut away and remove as much as possible, right?
Well, the trouble here lies in those that end up creating a stark and almost sterile interior that has real coldness and real severity that shouldn’t be in any home. The last thing you want is for your home, your sanctuary, to feel like a mortuary or a museum – the last place that you’d like to spend quiet nights at home with those you love and care about.
The name of the game with a minimalist style is refinement. You want to be able to control each individual space elegantly, elevating every individual piece that does remain in your interior so that it adds to the space rather than just clutters it up.
You can have a lot of fun with a minimalist approach and still add personality and style without feeling as though you’re veering off from the whole concept of minimalism at the same time.
Mid-century modern design elements were absolutely red-hot during the 1950s and 1960s, celebrating a “throwback” and almost retro feel inspired by Scandinavian and Danish designs.
It was a very American spin on these classic elements that created the midcentury modern design revolution, focusing on straightforward and functional styling that also embraced organic shapes, unique configurations and fabrications, and a serious focus on functionality.
This is one of the most timeless design languages you can ever choose to tap into. There’s just something about the midcentury modern language that speaks to anyone and everyone, immediately recognizable as soon you set your eyes on it and welcomed by all!