The Ultimate Guide to Design Styles

I can’t post on house progress every week because, I do, believe it or not, work on other things. My class is over, but I still have a lot of things going on. Right now I am in full triathlon mode, so a lot of weekends will be spent racing and then resting. Plus we need to re-coop some money with getting the duplex ready to rent so we can have some cash to pay for other projects.

Since I am not taking an interior design course this summer, and I am going to start offering my design services (email me if you want interior help!), I made a goal to do some self-taught continuing education. This summer I am going to work on perspective drawing and brush up on design styles and design history.

A lot of people ask me what my design style is, what are design styles, and what is the difference between contemporary and Modern. So one of my projects is to organize these styles for everyone and spell them out visually for easy reference. I’ve included a bit of interesting history where I could find it.

So this blog post covers my favorite and not-so-favorite design styles. I talk about Mid-Century Modern, Postmodern, Contemporary, Traditional, Eclectic, Scandinavian, Tuscan, Hollywood Regency, and my favorite, Urban Industrial. I would love to hear which styles resonate with you!

Mid-Century Modern

“The Mid-Century modern movement in the U.S. was an American reflection of the International and Bauhaus movements, including the works of Gropius, Florence Knoll, Le Corbusier and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.”*

In my mind, Modern is one of the most iconic and easily identifiable, perhaps because I worked at 2 furniture companies that mass-produced Mid-Century Modern pieces, Herman Miller and Knoll. Both of these companies painstakingly adhered to the strict perfection of the design of the pieces, while producing them on a massive scales.

Read my full post on Mid-Century Modern.

My all-time favorite Mid-Century Modern piece – the Le Corbusier Chaise
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My very own Barcelona Table, a quintessential Mid-Century Modern piece
Mid-Century Modern living room via Froy

Postmodern Contemporary

This irksome (to me) style is the reaction to the low, flat, minimalist style of the Modernist period. This period kind of spits on the clean, smooth, minimal lines of Modern design and architecture. It spanned from 1976-1999. It is also a style that is quite whimsical – an adjective I identify with the least.

This design style is easily identifiable by the the kitschy, over-stuffed, swirls and curves prevalent in the late 80’s and early 90’s.

Postmodern Contemporary – via The Culture Concept

Just a sidebar about Postmodern – the Portland Building is heralded as a great example of Postmodern architecture, designed by Michael Graves. My mother worked in this building!

Portland Building 1982.jpg
Postmodern architecture example – The Portland Building via Wikipedia

Contemporary

Contemporary is basically the current design trend. It’s not a time stamp on design like a design style like Mid-Century Modern or Rococo. It’s just a word to describe what it currently fashionable.

Contemporary living room style via Message Note
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Contemporary style living room via Marc-Michaels
Contemporary kitchen via HGTV

Traditional

Traditional is exactly what the word implies, safe, sturdy, comfortable. There are lots of curves, carved dark woods, rich, thick fabrics, and darker colors. It comes from the 1700’s and 1800’s classic homes from Northern European countries. There are lots of plaids, velvets, and florals.

Check out my deep dive on Traditional style.

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Traditional dining room via Adorable Home
traditional interior design
Traditional living room via Abby Rose Interior Design

Eclectic

To me Eclectic is kind of a catch-all design style. I think of it as a style you claim when you don’t know a lot about formally defined styles, or you just don’t care about them. You like a piece and you make it work with other pieces that have tickled your fancy.

But be warned, this is one of the hardest styles to pull off. It’s a slippery slope where your style might just come across as having no style at all if pieces aren’t put together in a considered fashion.

This photo below shows a mix of Mid-Century Modern iconic pieces like a Le Corbusier Lounge knock-off (maybe it’s real?), with the iconic floorlamp behind it, and the tulip table. Then the couch is a pretty traditional slip-covered couch – could be Scandinavian, it could be Shabby Chic. It’s all mixed with the very traditional red wood table in the back. The red of the Bugatti frame and the table with the pop of pinkish red in the throw pillows brings the different styles together coupled with the stark white everything.

Bright eclectic living room The Ins and Outs of Eclectic Interior Design
Eclectic style living room via Decorist

I love this Eclectic reading/sipping nook.

Colorful eclectic living space
Eclectic style, also via Decorist
Nailing Eclectic Style via Interior Design Files

Scandinavian

The Scandinavians did it right. They have such clean, white walls, simple furnishings, TONS of natural light, and gorgeous earthy finishes. Their playful pops of colors come in furniture pieces and accessories – always with clean, simple lines.

Scandinavian living room via Happy Ending

I always gravitate to this style in photos, but in reality, I can’t afford to put the color in my furnishings, so I put the color onto my walls. I can afford paint. So I never can quite capture this style in my home.

scandinavian country Scandinavian Country Interior Design
Scandinavian style kitchen via Dwell Candy
scandinavian modern4 Scandinavian Modern Interior Design
Scandinavian living room via Dwell Candy
Scandinavian living room via Froy

Read my whole post on Scandinavian design.

Tuscan

I am sorry, but this is one of my least favorite design styles. It actually really cracks me up, and I am just throwing it in here for s&#ts and giggles.

I started noticing interior design in high school and college – the 90’s – and after the more horrific Santa Fe style came the Faux Tuscan everything. Mom’s would paint a plain suburban wall with a Faux Tuscan window scene, like the one below. It ruined the style for me.

Faux Tuscan “window” – via Anne Giancola Decorative Painting

Tuscan is supposed to evoke the rich warm feelings of the earth and sun-baked pottery. There is a lot of wrought-iron, curvy, heavy furniture, and terracotta flooring.

It’s quite easy to overdo the Tuscan style. Those columns around the stove? Yikes.

Hollywood Regency

This is a fun style with its roots spanning the golden era of movies from the 20’s through the 50’s. The sets were designed to make the actors look amazing, and how can they not with a mirror every two inches to check their look? They put furniture low and understated to make the characters look grander.

Rebbeca’s vanity in the movie Rebbecca via Pinterest
1940’s Hollywood Regency  Schonlaw Entry, Beverly Hills, by Mary Burns via Lori Dennis

The names that keep coming up with Hollywood Regency style are William Haines and Dororthy Draper. Dororthy is an extremely inspiring figure, especially now that I am getting deeper into interior design. I will do a whole post on her when I talk about Baroque. I think her style is more Modern Baroque than Hollywood Regency, in my humble opinion. But I HAVE to mention her with Hollywood Regency, and she’s definitely worth a read. What a woman.

Check out my further explanation of Hollywood Regency.

black-and-gold-dining-room
Hollywood Regency dining room via Laurel & Wolfe

Charade Slipper Chair Jonathan Adler Shop Furniture
Jonathan Adler does a perfect Hollywood Regency

Urban Industrial

Urban Industrial is the style I gravitate to, even though I live on 3 acres on a rural island. There’s not really an exciting history to this design style, but it stems from turning defunct factories into hip lofts.

There is a lot of exposed brick and duct work in this style. I have neither in my home, but I love the industriousness of steel everywhere, like in my stairs, for example.

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Our nod to Industrial style

And I would love to incorporate steel into our fireplace design, like this.

steel fireplace
Industrial steel fireplace – photo citation unknown

It’s the juxtaposition of hard, rough materials like brick and steel against textural rugs, and worn camel-colored leather couches that really do it for me with this style.

Modern Industrial Interior Design - Definition And Ideas To Follow (3)
Industrial Urban style via Impressive
Industrial Urban via Froy

Check out my in depth post on urban industrialism.

So which style do you resonate with?

I credit the idea for this post topic to 3P Creative Group.

 

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