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Interior Design Styles for Beginners

Updated: Nov 2, 2022

Your basic guide to understanding popular interior design styles.

So, you know that you love warm wood tones and clean lines or maybe you love reproduction furniture and elegant entry pieces. Not sure how to categorize your personal style? This guide breaks down some of the most popular design styles in a comprehensible way. Hopefully, it helps you to better understand your own unique style and how you can create a space that is influenced by the styles you love (because it is hard to choose just one)!


Contemporary; "Belonging of or to occurring in the present." The contemporary design style is often confused with modern, but the two are each distinct separate styles. Contemporary is describing what is popular today whereas Moden style refers to the future, "forward-thinking."

Fans of contemporary design are attracted to curvilinear lines, eco-friendly materials, restrained palettes, concrete, steel, and elements of mid-century modern and art deco.


Traditional interior design is classic, inspired by shapes from the 18th and 19th centuries mainly. Typically traditional interiors feature antique pieces or items that are built as reproductions of designs from the past. Traditional spaces favor symmetrical design and a sense of order.

If you appreciate bold architectural elements with strong columns and moldings, tufted upholstery, gilded frames, prints such as damask, plaid, or paisley, or luxe materials--the traditional style may be for you!


Though not a true design style, this one makes the list due to its rise to popularity in the last couple of years. The transitional design describes contemporary design blended with traditional elements. This style allows some freedom when decorating your space as you can pull from those two established styles to combine elements from different times.

The transitional design incorporates modern wall decor, simple furniture lines, modern light fixtures, and pronounced moldings.

Mid-Century Modern

The popularity of Mid-Century Modern design has skyrocketed in recent years. This style emerged in the mid-20th century in America and Scandinavia. Following WW2 American designers were experimenting with new lower-cost materials like plastic and plywood and the possibilities of mass production.

If you are attracted to hairpin legs, "sputnik" style pendant lights, medium-toned woods, or abstract and asymmetric designs popular in the '50s and '60s--Mid-Century Modern may be a style for you to explore.


Industrial design comes from the conversion of old warehouse/industrial spaces and transforming them into chic living spaces. Surging in popularity in the early 2000's it is still popular today as many hospitality and commercial spaces have embraced the style.

To get a space that is truly fitting of the industrial movement you need some key elements, not all interiors have. That is bricks, beams, soaring ceilings, exposed pipes, and massive windows make for these iconic industrial living spaces.


No fuss and clean elegant lines are what minimalism is all about. One of the most thoroughly modern interior design styles thanks to refined, simple, functional characteristics that makes it its own style.

Love wandering around modern gallery spaces? Minimalism may be a design style worth exploring for you!


Rustic Design incorporates decor and furniture pieces that incorporate natural and weathered finishes like raw wood, stone, and leather. This style does not mean summer camp cabin in the woods--rustic elements can be totally sophisticated with a combination of influences from other design styles to create a beautifully realized, statement space. To me, rustic design is all about texture, layering, and coziness.

If you love nature and incorporating those raw materials, try out rustic design!

Art Deco

Art Deco is for those who are drawn to jewel-toned and ornate spaces. Popularized in the 1920's Art Deco interiors are almost always over the top, chic and elegant. This style embodies all of the vigor and optimism of the roaring twenties, repetitive themes you may notice in this style are sunbursts and fountains which were representative of the dawn of a "new modern age."

With large curved sofas, larger-than-life lighting, and those iconic tile patterns Art-Deco is perfect for those who are adventurous and like to have fun with their designs!

While these were all very surface-level introductions to these different design styles, I hope you got a taste of each of them. Leave a comment down below--which style do you think describes you the best? Would you like a more in-depth description of each of these styles to better understand them?

Let me know! Until next time...


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