Prominent Design Styles & Finding your Design Identity
What style defines you?
We are naturally interested in many ideas, thoughts, and styles. So, it's often difficult to settle on only 1 or 2 aesthetics for your home, especially because we grow and change as human beings. With that being said, the breakdown of different styles below aim to help ease a bit of stress when committing to a perfect look for your home. A process of elimination is also a great way to filter your interests, if you may not be an individual who already know what they love and gravitate towards. Seeing pictures of the different styles can let you know “ohhh, that definitely isn’t me”. Which then allows us to help get you closer to what is you.
The most common design style among residential properties, old and new, will have to be traditional design styles. Everyone is familiar with it, even if it has a few slightly more contemporary twists. Traditional design styles are inspired by classic and, well, traditional designs, primarily from the 18th and 19th centuries. Beautiful trims, symmetrical framing and intricate details pulled from classic art, antiques and historical architecture builds the foundation of traditional styling that aims to add a bit of elegance and order to a standard home. Traditional designs crave order and proportional balance. Although this consistency and order can feel a bit stale and sometimes even boring, it’s ideal for typical residential designs because it provides calmness, comfort, and connection. Everything has a place and compliments each other, from furniture to fabrics to intricate details.
Neutral color palettes and warm wood tones are often central design items of traditional interiors. Often times, rich jewel tones are pulled in as pops of highlights and varnished brass or muted gold accents add finishing touches in detail. Fabric patterns and wall treatments can range from simple solids, stripes and plaids to florals and Chinoiserie.
The next most commonly mentioned design style has to be Contemporary Design. Although often mistaken for “modern” styles, contemporary spaces refer to spaces that highlight the latest and greatest trends of that time. Often shown as muted neutrals or bold, bright punches, contemporary of the 21st century often seems like the love child of industrial and traditional design. Sleek, clean lines are often mixed with ornately-detailed elements to bring a unique harmony of two supposedly clashing styles.
Oftentimes, contemporary architecture and interior designs keep finishes very minimal, without much ornate trims or additives, opting to reserve those detailing within the light fixtures and decors. Contemporary furnishings can range from extremely low-profile to extraordinarily ornate with splashes of industrial edge. Contemporary styles oftentimes lack curves and most commonly form 90 degree angles. Darker metal tones are very much the primary detailers of contemporary spaces. Graphic elements in artwork or accents are the crowning glories of contemporary design.
A design style that has rapidly risen to popularity in the last few years is Mid-Century and Mid-Century Modern styles. Yes, there is a difference.
Mid-Century designs are reminiscent of the best moments of the 1950s and 1960s. As America is introduced to Scandinavian designs in the 50s, architects, furniture designers and artists race to incorporate minimal, natural elements and clean, tapered details to their craft. Scandinavian designs elevated durability in construction of products while maintaining affordability. Just as America has grown fond of Scandinavian designs, a new adventure begins as we partake in the historical “space race”. Taking the idea of minimal, durable construction and marrying it with space age sleek materials and aesthetics, the core identity of the Mid-Century movement is created. Oftentimes, amoeba-shaped decors and mustard-yellow throw pillows are interestingly complimented with minimalistic, natural wood chairs that highlights the craftsmanship of furniture construction. The unique qualities of Mid-Century design is what most-likely sparked the re-interest of this style within the current pop culture.
However, the current interpretation of it is a bit more sophisticated. Mid-century modern puts a more relatable twist on the traditionally eccentric style of the 50s and 60s. Simpler tweaks are made to create a much more relaxed environment within mid-century homes. Colors are used much more sparingly and coordinated a bit more cohesively. Functionality and craftsmanship still plays a big part while natural elements like stone or wood balances with organic forms and patterns. Ornamentation are kept to a minimum and color palettes are often kept warmer rather than cooler. Iconic furniture designs of the era are still heavily reproduced and utilized within mid-century modern spaces, adding a small touch of authenticity. Fluid lines and curves are reminiscent of the Atomic 60s designs while fabrics are often much more minimal and patterning.
Although these are, technically, two different style of design, they bare more resemblances than not, so we will consolidate them together.
When anyone mentions minimal or Scandinavian designs, one place immediately comes to mind. Ikea.
Ikea has mass-produced and made Scandinavian aesthetics accessible to virtually everyone on Earth. Minimal, natural color palettes and durable yet easy construction not only makes Ikea products affordable but also sustainable over time. This is the core value of Scandinavian designs. Ergonomics, smooth aesthetics, uncluttered color schemes, innovative construction makes minimalism and Scandinavian designs extremely desirable in 2021. With a great deal of chaos surrounding us, the one thing we can all control is our home, and it’s aesthetics. By decluttering the design of interior spaces, visually the mind is also decluttered, leaving room to process much more productive ideas. Minimal spaces are also very refined as it allows many opportunities to build depth and layers. If a space is monochromatic, the eye can now focus on the layering of textures, tones and details. Minimalism is also harder to achieve as it takes another level of consideration to elevate a tonal palette. Every detail becomes visible and jarring contrasts are especially highlighted. Organic forms and artisanal accents are also rising in popularity among minimalistic designing. Natural elements help to elevate a neutral/tonal palette with textures and interesting, fluid forms.
As traveling becomes increasingly important in life and cultural acceptance are hastily encouraged, we also see a rise in culturally influenced design styles. These unique aesthetics bring an inviting contrast to an overly familiar colonial identity.
Bohemian styles originally pulled inspiration from Gypsies. The term was derived from the French expression “La Bohemia” which means gypsy. It is believed that people in Bohemia initiated the style, a region known housing a hefty gypsy population in the past. Boho styles are unique in the unpredictability and unusual way of utilizing natural materials. Nomads are often traveling and creating temporary shelters from what is accessible to them. Women decors, faux animal products and lively plants fill up a Bohemian home. Eclectic and brightly colored fabrics add dynamism to the space and artisanal crafts uniquely stamps the space “one-of-a-kind”. Every boho-style interior is and should be uniquely different and greatly personal. Thrifted furniture pieces, handmade tapestries, and 1-off sculpture pieces add flare and charisma that is never to be replicated.
Moroccan designs are known for consistent layers of intricate patterns upon every surface. Every scale of patterning is utilized, often in one place yet never seeming to clash. Metal lanterns are a staple item, often mimicking the forms of traditional chandeliers, only with more interests the more you focus on the details. Rich, bold, jewel tones define every decorative item that line ornately carved wooden furniture pieces. Everything within the space is a piece of art that can only be crafted by hand through creativity and centuries of practice. The intricacies of Moroccan detailing cannot be explained, only admired.
Asian designs are often associated with the feeling of Zen and Buddhism. Traditional Chinese architecture and designs are often referenced when pursuing a more “Asian” aesthetic. Traditional Chinese and Buddhist temples are often mimicked in aesthetics to create a zen-like feel. Red is often used as a symbolic color within the Asian community, to communicate prosperity, fortune, and good luck. Red is also an identity of Asian design styles and is often incorporated in abundance when wanting to achieve this look. Chinoiserie is an art form where furniture and accessories are patterned after the detailed embellishments and complex decoration of Chinese designs. Many have sought after Chinoiserie items throughout history due to its unique Chinese influence. Many are also fascinated with the unique way Asian designs express natural elements and forms like trees, water and animals. However, Japanese architecture and designs have also become extremely admirable and desirable since the early 90s. Concrete, and the precise utilization of concrete has elevated many Japanese architects to fame and set Japanese construction to a higher level of excellence. The intricacies of Japanese joinery, and use of natural elements highlights the expertise of Japanese designers and their crafts. The use of concrete has become synonymous to Asian designs due to the prominence and recognition of Japanese architecture. Keeping the design palette neutral and natural is the key to acquiring an Asian aesthetic.