A guide to interior design styles for your home

A guide to interior design styles for your home

Whether you are renovating your entire home or just one of the rooms, having a good sense of interior design styles will help you create a more cohesive and well thought out look and feel for your house. Interior design styles can be confusing or overwhelming, and just one element - such as the material, texture, colour, or even the lighting - can make or break the look. So, where do you start?

Flow, functionality and aesthetic

The three most important factors you want to consider while renovating your space are the flow, functionality, and aesthetic; balancing the individuality of each element, as well as how they all come together. In this article, we will discuss some of the different styles to help you get started. If you’re not sure what works best for you, it might be a good idea to consider talking to an architect / interior designer.

Some people think in terms of defined style and want their home to be in one coherent style, such as the industrial or the minimalist style. However, some simply think in terms of a collection of different elements and items that they like. No one approach is right or wrong; whichever group you subscribe to, there are advantages and challenges.

If you are part of the first group, make sure your house doesn’t end up being too predictable, portraying a certain style so perfectly that it becomes impersonal. So, your challenge here is to create a holistic coherent look, and still make it your own unique space.

If you are part of the second group, the challenge here is to avoid a mix and match look that fights itself and does not create any coherence. So, the goal here is to integrate the different elements you like, and ensure they come together to form a coherent look and feel. Remember, the style you end up with does not need to be a known recognised style with a name; it can be your own unique style.

Popular interior design styles

To help you get started, here are a few interior design styles you could use as a starting point when you are considering renovating your space:

1. Mid-Century modern

If you are inspired by the styles of the 1950s and 60s, mid-century modern could be the style for your home. Opt for easy-to-use contemporary designs that mainly focus on functionality. Abstract and organic shapes both work well with this style, so you could choose to go for clean lines and / or curved forms. You could pick asymmetrical geometric patterns for the decorative items in your space such as rugs, paintings, and wallpaper. Metals, plywood and medium toned colours such as browns are good choices for this style. Experiment with round globe lights, pendant lights, or even brass fixtures, to have a perfect mid-century modern space.

2. Minimalist

If you like large, airy spaces and clean lines, opt for a minimalist style. Focus on creating a large open space or the illusion of one. Opt for simple, geometric furniture. A minimalist style of interior design highlights functionality, and as the name suggests, "less is more"! So, choosing basic and neutral colours such as black, grey, and white would be your best bet here.

3. Modern

Modern style in interior design refers to the early to mid-twentieth century designs. This basically includes crisp and straight lines, basic colour combinations of three to four colours at most, including a lot of black, white and some accent colours. Go for simple furniture and just a few accessories for this look. Choosing black metal furniture will tie everything together, giving a sleek and comprehensive look to your space.

4. Contemporary

This design style is very similar to the modern style, except that it features more "in-the-present" designs and includes curved patterns and curved lines. You can fill your house with the popular design elements of that particular time to achieve a contemporary feel to your interiors. You can choose concrete, steel and glass elements for your design in this case, and spruce them up with curved or circular furniture and patterns, while keeping a restrained, neutral colour scheme.

5. Traditional

If you like rich patterns and colours and want to introduce them into your home, you can choose a traditional interior design style. Here, go for plush velvet / silk / brocade textures, and choose rich colour palettes that add extra depth to your space. This style focuses on introducing classic details, tufted furnishing and accessories to your space, so you could choose furniture with ornate carvings for example. Crystal chandeliers are a great addition to this style. Floral or striped wallpapers and patterns, oil paintings and ornate mirrors are statement-making elements for this style of interior design.

6. Transitional

A transitional interior design style lies somewhere between the traditional and modern style. You could opt for this style if you feel that traditional might be too heavy for you and if modern style is too radical. Transitional style combines the best of both to give you sleek lines and textures combined with elegance and richness, creating a balance. So, you could opt for materials such as wood, lacquer, glass, or steel and neutral colours to enhance this design style. Play it up and go for heavy patterns for your show pieces, but your other furniture and the walls can be more neutral with colours such as black, white, plum, maroon, and brown.

7. Industrial

If you live in a city like Amsterdam, where a lot of old industrial heritage buildings have been converted into residential apartments, you could embrace that with an industrial style. You could choose to highlight this aspect even more by selecting warm tones and wood, exposed brick and steel to convey an unfinished yet put together raw look to your space. You could even choose to not conceal cabling and wiring. Often this can be used as an eclectic theme for your home. Abstract art on the walls further enhances this style. Dark furniture, black grills for your windows and Edison bulbs are other elements you could choose if this is the style that calls out to you.

8. Bohemian

If you prefer whimsical patterns and eclectic furniture, with a lot of indoor green plants, bohemian could be the style for you. Choose earthy colours for your palettes, mixing and matching them up with bright and upbeat shades that could pop such as yellows and oranges, and add lots of patterns and natural textures. You could add statement light fixtures and throw blankets and rugs in bright patterns to put together this look for your home. You can even choose mismatched items to create a cohesive bohemian vibe!

9. Scandinavian

The Scandinavian interior style includes a lot of natural light, minimalist yet modern furniture and basic colour palettes, including a lot of blacks and whites and accent colours. If this is your style, choose cosy muted colours such as off-whites, sepias, deep maroons and browns, and materials such as wood and leather. Since this style focuses mainly on creating cosy and comfortable interiors with small pops of colours, mix soft rugs, linen sheets, wool blankets, and accent cushions in your space. Multiples of graphic paintings on the walls, abstract bedside lights and candle stands, metal finishes and ceramic vases will help throw the whole look together.

All the interior design styles described above are just a selection, and as mentioned before, you do not have to apply them by the book. Simply use them as a starting point. In fact, you could play with these styles quite a bit and create your own. For example, you can surprise yourself and everyone else by adding a touch of screaming neon pink to your Scandinavian-like minimalist interior!

Aesthetic makeover or renovation?

Ultimately, you are the one to decide which interior design style is best suited to your taste, personality, and space. Remember though, that several very important aspects need to be considered, such as your layout, flow, composition, and technical aspects, to name just a few. If you are considering a renovation, and not just an aesthetic makeover, you may want to seek the help of an experienced architect. They can help you with the fundamentals, as interior design is not just colours and furniture, it needs to go hand in hand with the architecture of the space.

Stephanie Akkaoui Hughes


Stephanie Akkaoui Hughes

Architect, author, international speaker, Founder and CEO of AKKA Architects, Stephanie is part of a new breed of young visionary architects who operate beyond the nowadays restrained realm of architecture....

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