Home Design Style Guide 101

Whether you’re in the market for a new home or planning to tackle renovations in the near future, honing in on your preferred design style can help make selections easier. To do this, understanding the various styles is a helpful starting point to narrow down the seemingly endless options. Here’s the breakdown to help you jumpstart your home design plans.


Traditional home décor doesn’t have to be old, tired, or stuffy. This classic style can be adjusted to your taste and lifestyle preferences, and while it’s typically found in older homes, it can also be woven into newer construction.

Hallmarks of traditional style include:

  • Ornate woodwork
  • Persian rugs
  • Period pieces
  • Curved and detailed furniture
  • Rich colors and a variety of patterns


Transitional vs. traditional design elements can overlap, but transitional is ultimately a blend of traditional style with contemporary influences. This may mean a room with traditional furniture pieces, complemented by contemporary fixtures. Transitional is a blended approach that feels balanced and relaxed.

Hallmarks of transitional style include:

  • Neutral colors
  • Classic furniture
  • Modern lines and finishes
  • A relaxed feel
  • Wood pieces
  • Textiles in a variety of textures
  • Subtle colors and patterns

Photo by Life On Cedar Lane


Not to be confused with modern design, contemporary design can be warm and welcoming, while still being sleek and sophisticated. It is centered around a “less is more” approach, meaning simplicity, clean lines, minimal patterns, white space, and neutral colors.

Hallmarks of contemporary style include:

  • Neutral colors
  • Simplicity
  • Clean lines
  • A focus on the space, instead of the items in the space

Mid-Century Modern

Envisioning Don Draper’s home and office can help you grasp the full capabilities of mid-century modern – a style that has spanned many decades. To prevent it from feeling too retro, it also blends well with other décor elements. Mid-century modern is defined by clean lines, smooth angles, and bright, solid colors. Because of its inception in the mid-19th century, the furniture focuses on eliminating the ornate details typically found in older, more traditional styles.

Hallmarks of mid-century style include:

  • Simple lines
  • Minimal silhouettes
  • Solid, bright colors, and no patterns

Photo from Home Bunch

Modern Farmhouse

Joanna Gaines built an empire around the modern farmhouse. While this style sometimes feels overdone, it can create an inviting, comfortable, and relaxed environment. And it’s not solely based around shiplap — it’s about blending high and low to create a warm, welcoming home.

Hallmarks of modern farmhouse decor style include:

  • Rustic feel
  • Industrial accents
  • Minimal design
  • Scandinavian influences


Industrial décor gives an urban vibe and typically works best in loft-style spaces. Its minimalism is highlighted by dark neutrals and raw woods and metals.

Hallmarks of industrial style include:

  • Oversized elements
  • Clean overall design
  • Reclaimed factory and warehouse pieces
  • Raw and unfinished woods and metals

Photo from Decoholic


Another minimalist style of decorating, Scandinavian design is based around creating a serene vibe through simplicity. It’s the perfect backdrop for embracing a hygge lifestyle through a calming atmosphere and chunky, tonal knits. Light neutrals such as white and pale gray are typically the foundation, highlighted by textured accessories and furniture with simple, clean lines. Light wood tones are most prevalent.

Hallmarks of Scandinavian style include:

  • Light grain wood
  • Tonal textures
  • Pale neutrals
  • Clean lines
Written by Deanna Kane
Deanna Kane is an interiors, home decor, and real estate writer. She enjoys taking on her own home renovation and design projects, and staying current on the local real estate market.