There are hundreds of styles and themes to draw inspiration from when designing your own home! Like fashion, every person has their own unique taste and style which should be reflected in your home's decor. Your style is an extension of who you are and recognizing your style will make selecting furniture and accessories for your home much easier. Although there are many variations of styles, each can be categorized into one of the four major design styles that we will discuss in the following.
Formal design is considered elegant and sophisticated and is often seen in historical homes such as Victorians that have high ceilings and tall windows where there is high emphasis on vertical lines. Formal designs are characterized by perfect symmetry. Typically, accessories and furniture are purchased in pairs to create mirror images so that the entire space has equal visual weight. Dignified and stately, formal designs are very ornamental and structured.
Elements of Formal Design - Sofas and chairs are tightly upholstered in smooth, lavish fabrics such as damasks that are usually embellished with fringe or tassels. Oriental rugs, large mirrors and other ornate pieces are often seen in formal designs. Woods often have dark stains and quality finishes with elaborate details. Tall shelving units that emphasize tall, vertical lines and antiques are commonly used to achieve a formal style decor. Intricate patterns, tapestry and embroidered details are common elements of formal design.
Traditional style is very popular and is characterized by a comforting, classic look that has a calm and orderly appearance. Between casual and formal, traditional decor is functional yet peaceful - more relaxed then formal design but more sophisticated then casual decor. Bright colors are rarely used in traditional design. Rather, neutral colors in muted tones that blend well together are seen in this design style. Classic, sophisticated furnishings with no extra fringe are used in traditional decor.
Elements of Traditional Design - Traditional design uses a mix of tall and short pieces with restful horizontal lines. Woods feature medium to dark stains with some detailing and sofas and chairs can be upholstered in plain, floral or printed fabrics without too much texture or shine. Leather pieces are often found in traditional decor as well. Rugs, lamp shades and accessories are found throughout traditional spaces in subtle, neutral colors. Traditional rooms are not symmetrical but do feature groupings that have equal visual weight.
Homey and inviting, casual design focuses on comfort. Casual decor is attractive to the eye but is not ornate or elegant. Balance is still important in this design style. Shabby chic, french country and rustic designs are all considered casual styles.
Elements of Casual Design - Casual designs feature horizontal lines and over-sized furniture that appears chunky and has soft curves. Wicker and rattan accents as well as large ottomans are found in casual homes. Woods feature light stains or painted finishes. Casual design is very flexible and perfect matches in color and style are not necessary to achieve this look. Sofas and chairs can be upholstered in a variety of fabrics that have a soft texture and a natural look. Slip covers and subtle fabric details such as ruffles are often found in casual designs. Casual spaces have plenty of room for accessories such as candle holders, books and throws.
Modern design utilizes streamlined, minimalist furniture and has an urban, uncluttered appearance. Clean lines and neutral tones mixed with bold, bright colors are characteristic of modern spaces. Modern homes feature bold, large-scale art and have a museum-like appearance. Crisp, un-embellished objects are found in modern rooms where color and texture add warmth to the space. Modern design focuses on negative space so that the sculpture-like furniture and accessories have room to breathe and each item stands out.
Elements of Modern Design - Modern designs are characterized by clean lines and no-frill furniture. Skirts are not seen in modern design where upholstered items have exposed legs which add a sculptural appearance to the furniture. Neutral colors in sleek fabrics like leather are often found in modern design. Modern accents include area rugs and sculptural art in bold colors or unusual textures which add warmth to the space.
Modern vs. Contemporary - These two terms are often confused. Modern style emphasizes lines, space and museum like quality while contemporary simply means "of today" and can be an up-to-date interpretation of any style.