What's Your Design Style?

I get asked and ask my clients this question…constantly.
You don’t have to choose just one, but knowing and curating to your preferred style(s) can go a long way toward organizing your home.

Boho, shabby chic, farmhouse, industrial, coastal, California casual. . .who can make sense or keep track of the various design trends making their way across our screens and into our homes these days? As a service to my clients and for the curious design aficionado, here’s a quick and simple way to make sense of interior design styles. 

✒ Knowing design periods from a design trend.   

You likely don't have the time (or interest) to study the major style periods of interior design. So let’s simplify things. Like art or architecture, interior design has evolved over the centuries as influenced by various eras or movements with distinctive styles. Now to keep this short, let’s condense those 100 or so periods (of Western influenced design) into four concise eras: 1) Primitive, 2) Traditional, 3) Transitional, and 4) Modern. Yes, I cheated there and oversimplified. A lot. “Primitive” in this instance would include the major movements between the stone age and the Renaissance, or roughly 6000BC through 1600AD. Really old, right? I use “Traditional” to describe the movements which produced many (most) of the furnishings and decorative objects we would recognize today (sofa, chaise lounge, chairs, tables, armoires and hutches). If you prefer a “traditional style” you may have a preference for actual antiques or for modern reproductions of these classic forms. “Transitional” gets a little complicated; I use “transitional style” to describe pieces with an updated interpretation or modern flare to a classical form. I also use “transitional” to describe decorating with a blend of old and new objects (grandmother’s hutch with a modern Italian leather sofa). See, it’s tricky. And finally, with “Modern” I include the design movements of the modern era, circa 1900 to present day. Yes, Art Deco and Mid Century Modern are modern design periods. Shabby chic, boho, farmhouse, and beachy are modern trends. There I said it. Let the shade be cast and for the record I absolutely love Joanna Gaines’ work. 

So why does any of this matter, Christy? Well it matters to me as I want to be sure my clients and I share a "visual vocabulary" when designing together; at the very minimum that we are able to identify does my client love old things, new things, or a blend of both? With this established I can layer in a specific trend or curate several trends to create a unique style that is personal to my client's taste. Which brings us to the next point...

✒ Know your preferences and edit edit edit! 

Or work with a talented interior designer ; )


If you want to really dig into the history of Western interior design check out "The Furniture Bible" by Christopher Pourny, "Designer's Guide to Furniture Styles" by Treena Crochet or John Pile's "A History of Interior Design". If you want a quick tutorial to read on your smart device, check out visual.ly’s handy inforgraphic. My gratitude to each of these sources which helped inform this post. A more globally inspired look into interior design will be the topic of a future post, so stay tuned.


Until then peruse a quick visual aid on traditional, transitional and modern here.....