When it comes to common design styles, you’ve got ‘em in the bag.
⇒ Shabby chic.
You know it when you see it.
And so does everybody else.
But what do you know about the ones that are not quite so common?
Probably not quite so much.
That’s why I put together this primer.
Below, I outline five of my favorite not-so-famous but still beautiful and cohesive design styles.
So if you’re the type that, when someone is pontificating on “transitional” design, you nod along — but inside your brain is screeching: Must. Google. Later. — this article is for you.
Like its name, organic design is natural and — generally — eco-friendly: earthy textures in clean whites, beiges, and taupes come together to create a warm, welcoming atmosphere (except maybe for toddlers, with all that white).
Different toned woods and fuzzy, fibrous textiles are common, with soft lines in shapes you’ll find in nature, like circles — no sharp, rigid edges here. More modern takes on organic design eschew the colorless scheme, incorporating subdued, natural tones like peachy apricots, moss green and sea blue.
Born from a rugged, post-World War II utilitarian climate, Scandinavian design is all about function. You won’t find any filigree or fretwork here (that’s design-speak for ornamental accents). Yes, this style speaks of Ikea, but it’s so much more.
White walls and light floors may feel basic, but they’re purposeful: creating a neutral palette for the room’s design elements to shine.
In fact, everything in the room serves a purpose because this design style makes use of space without adding clutter, like sensible wall shelves and dual-use furniture. Color palettes are simple: blacks, whites, grays, browns, with occasional pops of brighter colors or metal touches — for accent only. Like organic, you’ll find natural materials here including wool, sheepskin, and mohair and loads of wood and natural light to keep cozy in chilly Scandinavian weather.
Bohemian design is perhaps best described as eclectic, unexpected, or interesting — the type of design an artist or world traveler would gravitate toward. Anything goes in this anti-minimalist, “no rules” style, including creating your own use for accessories or furnishings (like hanging a rug up on a wall because, hey, I like it up there).
Strong, bold colors reign, but they’re in earthy greens and browns, intermixed with bright purples, reds, and blues. Knotted tapestries, fringed pillows, and other dramatic fabrics dominate, along with flashy metals and jeweled tones…and everything patterns. Don’t worry about clutter or overkill here; the more, the bohemian-er.
Another characteristic of Boho design: nothing is fresh-from-the-store perfect. Everything looks used and well-loved, probably because it was maintained lovingly over time or selected lovingly from a secondhand store. Cushy, soft furnishings invite people to take a load off and stay a while, for good conversation and equally good wine.
It may seem like Bohemian, but eclectic design is anything but.
Bohemian design doesn’t care if the design elements work together; their whimsy and personality are their beauty. In eclectic design you pick and choose the aspects of other design styles that you love — and that work together.
That might mean a traditional antiques desk with a mid-century modern chair or farmhouse-meets-industrial. It’s a hodgepodge, but a deliberate one.
Design rules about color, symmetry, balance still apply in eclectic design. There are typically standout distinctive pieces (stuff that some may call them “odd”), but they’re balanced with understated elements so as not to overwhelm. Even though textures and styles may differ widely, there will be unifying factors — like a color scheme.
Not too cozy, not too trendy.
Not too classic, not too sleek.
Not too frilly, not too masculine.
…it’s just right.
Transitional design straddles the middle path between traditional and contemporary designs, toning down elements of each for a balanced, serene space.
Like reupholstering a traditional chair in a vibrant modern fabric. Or hanging a crystal chandelier in a cool, modern bathroom. It’s the best of the old and new combined.
Designs are simple, with a lean towards minimalism — bye bye cluttered coffee table — in pale, unobtrusive shades. In the absence of striking color contrasts, textures and finishes make a statement, albeit a muted one, so the space retains its calm and its charm. Accents in brass, steel, glass, lacquer, even painted wood add layers of visual interest.