Interior Design Styles Defined

1. Classic Style

Classical interior style is based on order, symmetry and balance which relates to the ideals of the Greek and Roman empires. A primary element in classical style is the use of a focal point around which visual balance is achieved, for example a feature fireplace flanked on either side by matching armchairs with an ornate mirror above. The colour palette common to classical interior design style is often inspired by nature. A variety of yellows, blues, greens, browns as well as softer, muted hues like terracottas, grays and pinks are commonly used. When accenting with whites, choose off-white if you want to stay in keeping with a more authentic classical colour palette. Choose bright white if you want a slightly more contemporary feel instead.

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Fabrics used in classical interior design style tend to be elegant without being overly ornate or attention grabbing. Cotton, canvas and velvet are some commonly used in classic interiors. Natural flooring of wood, stone or marble works best in the classically styled environment as they relate well to the natural colour schemes used.

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The key identifying feature of the classic style is symmetry with each side of the room mirrored on either side of a central focal point. Columns are also a feature of classic design, relating back to Greek and roman architecture, and as such vertical, tone-on-tone stripes on the walls or curtains can represent this. The use of classical ornamentation can also be used to identify a room as being of the classical style.

2. Elegant Style

The Elegant or Art Deco style was developed following World War I, to offer people a new style for a new era. The excitement and optimism of post-war Europe and America formed the basis for this glamorous and elegant style of design.

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Elegant or Art Deco furniture is streamlined in design. It was modern and sleek for the time while still remaining comfortable. Many designs of furniture used industrial materials such as bent chrome base that gives the piece a rocking effect. Wood pieces are highly lacquered in black, with woods used including exotic Brazilian rosewood, ebony, birds-eye maple, and light maple veneers. Upholstery is typically of velour, making the rigid structural form more comfortable.

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Elegant or Art Deco lighting is extensive including ceiling lights, floor lamps, table lamps and wall lamps. Floor lamps include tall torchieres in wrought iron or chrome with hand blown glass shades. Some are also of black wrought iron. Table lamps of bright nickel with white, clear, frosted, or colourful glass shades are common. Wall lamps can be bronze, aluminum, steel, or silver plated base metal with opaque white or colourful glass shades. All this lighting is warm, usually orange or yellow in colour.

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Surfaces in the Elegant or Art Deco style are generally sleek and clean, lacking any texture in order to contrast the more decorative and ornate objects and furniture within the space. Mirrors made of nickel, chrome, or silver are decorated with motifs of deer, peacocks, roses, and geometric shapes. Bronze sculptures are sleek covered with coloured or pearl beads. Desk sets of pen and pencil on a base are streamlined in design.

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Door handles and candlesticks molded of nickel, chrome, or silver have woodsy or chevron shapes. Frosted glass or black and white marble are used for vases. Inlay is common and adds color and design. Cameo glass vases show under layers of color exposed by etching away top layers of white or clear glass. All these decorative and slightly over the top objects were a show of renewed wealth and prosperity after the harsh rationing endured during the war.

3. Antique Style

The Antique/Victorian style originated during the Victorian era and is often described as opulent and luxurious. Antique/Victorian style is the near opposite to minimalism, it is based on an excessive amount of ornate and flamboyant decorations, accessories, the more you have on display the better. But Antique/Victorian style also includes features in order to avoid clutter. The excessive decorative furniture and ornament are contrasted by plain floor and wall surfaces.

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The Antique/Victorian Style uses deep hues, pastels and neutral colours contrast the rich textures against the bright shades in upholstery and wall coverings. Exotic materials and heavy woods became available during Antique/Victorian era and were used extensively in the furniture of the time but today you can find pieces of Antique/Victorian style furniture in cheaper materials. This has seen a recent revival in the style with a type of modern Victorian style emerging.

4. Modern Style

The creation of the modern interior design style is credited to a group of European designers that started the Bauhaus School of Design in Germany in 1919. The Bauhaus philosophy is that form and function should combine in all designs.

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Modern Style design is clean-lined and focuses first and foremost on function and avoids the excessive accessories and decorative elements seen in many other styles. Some people feel the modern design is too simple, harsh or cold, however when well planned it can promote a sense of calmness and simplicity to your home.

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The modern interior style is ideal for apartments and small spaces as it maximizes space and create the impression that a room is larger than it actually is. Minimal textures and bold geometric forms, neutral colours accented with a single bold colour along with polished finishes and asymmetrical balance are key identifying features of modern style interiors.

5. Contemporary Style

The terms modern interior design and contemporary interior design are often used interchangeably, however there is a difference between the two. Contemporary interior design can only mean trendy looks that are in style at any current moment, while modern interior design refers to the specific geometrical, clean-lined style called modern. The fact that the modern style may also be a part of a current look or trend adds to the confusion between modern and contemporary.

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Contemporary interiors are comfortable and welcoming without being cluttered and dark and is a style that is equally appropriate for offices and stores, lofts and homes. A contemporary style home can be a quiet and comfortable retreat.

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The key identifying feature of a contemporary style interior design is line. Line can be used through the use of bold color blocks, high ceilings, “square” edged furniture, linear wooden floors, floor mats, bare windows and geometric shapes in wall art and sculpture. The bare space, on walls, between pieces of furniture, and above in upper areas also become just as important as the areas filled with objects. Each piece stands out as individual and unique.

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Smooth, clean, geometric shapes are essential for contemporary style furniture pieces with upholstered furniture usually in black, white, or another neutral tone. These pieces should be simple and uncluttered, without curves or decoration. Sofas, chairs, and ottomans usually have exposed legs with Beds and chairs usually having no trims or tassels. In conclusion, with contemporary interiors, less is more. Go basic, bare, bold, and structural with bespoke, unique and individual furniture.

6. Minimalist Style

The concept of minimalist style is to strip everything down to its essential quality and achieve simplicity. Minimalism simplifies living spaces to reveal the essential quality of buildings and conveys simplicity in attitudes toward life.

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The idea is not completely without ornamentation, but everything is as reduced down to a stage where you cannot remove anything further to improve the design, or without disimproving it.

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The basic geometric forms, elements without decoration, simple materials and the repetitions of structures can represent a sense of order and essential quality. The movement of natural light in minimalist buildings reveals simple and clean spaces.

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In order to successfully implement a minimalist style storage is key in order to allow the space to remain minimal while still retaining the essential objects you use within that space.

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Minimalist kitchens are an excellent example of this, where clever use of space and hidden storage is regularly used.

7. Urban Style

Urban interiors feature nontraditional home materials and design features, often including objects that are more traditionally used in an industrial sense. The Urban style sees the use of galvanized steel, concrete floors, metal siding, exposed beams and unfinished surfaces to create a distinctly modern, bohemian look. Often random, non functional (in household terms) objects are included in Urban interiors to create an outdoor or industrial atmosphere.

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In more upscale urban interiors, however, the look is far more polished, with bespoke fixtures, sophisticated finishes and clever small space solutions, such as open floor plans that allow for multifunctional rooms.

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This alludes to the central function of urban interiors which is to create space, sometimes in surprising ways. Combination living/working spaces have become traditional in inner cities and industrial areas, often referred to as studio apartments. Renovated warehouses might feature a concrete floor for large scale artwork or production and an upper loft for a living space.

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Industrial building converted into high rise apartments, upscale condominiums and mixed-use buildings are other innovations to urban living spaces and rather that fighting the existing industrial feature within these spaces Urban interior design embraces them.

8. Country Style

Country style interior design is cosy bearing the resemblance of cottage style. There are many various culturally different country style designs that have the features of the time and style that was traditional to those countries. Thus you may find such country style types as Indian country, French country, English country, American country, Italian country or Tuscan, and Modern country.

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Each type of country style has taken characteristic features of the culture it was used in. English country is relaxed and comfortable incorporating many floral patterns as well as stripes and plaids. Natural light wood, such as oak, is used throughout the English country styles. Open space is not considered important in the country style with large furniture pieces often dominating a space with the walls often decorated with a variety of pictures, utensils or other objects.

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French country style is characterized by deep and bright colours – aubergine, lavender, yellow, azure blue. colours are built into floral and animal patterns. The furniture is robust and basic. Italian country style, also known as Tuscan is warm and rustic. It incorporates such colours as ochre, terracotta, golden yellow, and green.

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The flooring and fireplaces are made of natural stone. Unfinished wooden pieces and textured walls accentuate the rustic feel. American country style has its main feature in simplicity. The furniture can be stained, painted or unfinished. Modern country style has an updated look. Incorporating modern art, furniture or lighting into the traditional design makes it more up to date but still cozy and lived-in.

9. Rustic Style

Rustic design is drawn from natural inspiration, using raw and often unfinished elements including wood and stone.

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Rustic design may incorporate accessories from the outdoors with warmth emulating from the design and architectural details that may include features like vaulted ceilings adorned with wood beams or reclaimed wood floors.

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Many designs now integrate rustic design with more modern furnishings and accessories.

10. Industrial Style

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There’s a sense of unfinished rawness in many of the elements, and it’s not uncommon to see exposed brick, ductwork and wood. An iconic home with an industrial design theme would be a renovated loft from a former industrial building.

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Think high ceilings, old timber and dangling metal light fixtures with sparse functional furniture. There may possibly be one or two pieces of abstract art or photography to add a dash of colour to an otherwise neutral color scheme derived from the primary materials of wood and metals.