Interior Design Styles: Examples, Descriptions and Tips
Interior design can be overwhelming, especially for those without any design experience or training. There are an endless number of design styles, and it isn't immediately obvious how they differ and what makes each one unique. How can you make your home beautiful if you are just confused and overwhelmed with all the interior design styles?
The good news is that it's absolutely possible to make your home beautiful, and you don't need to take any courses or get a Bachelor's degree in design. To cut down on your confusion and overwhelm, we'll break down 14 of the most prominent interior design styles. We'll cover each style, what makes it unique, how to implement it in your space, and how it most often relates to the other design styles. Most importantly, we'll help you pinpoint your own decorating style.
Here are the 14 interior design styles we'll cover:
- Art Deco
- Coastal & Modern Coastal
- Contemporary or Modern
- Craftsman (Arts & Crafts)
- Mid-Century Modern
- Modern Farmhouse
- Even more design style combinations
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Stuccco Online Interior Design concept rendering + final result
Defining Your Personal Design Style
By definition, interior design is highly subjective. It's important to start this guide by reminding you that your personal style doesn't have to match anyone else's. As you learn about each of the different interior design styles, don't allow yourself to get swept away with what is currently popular or what other people think would look good in your home.
The foundation of interior design is to make your home functional and beautiful in a way that reflects your style. It is both an art and a science, and there are no simple formulas or black and white strategies to successfully design any given space.
The beauty of interior design is that it never stops changing and developing, and new styles are created constantly by mixing other styles together. In fact, you'll see specific examples of how this has happened with design styles throughout history.
But the best way to reduce your overwhelm and feel confident about your design style is by having a basic understanding of what's already out there.
Read through our definition of the top interior design styles, and see even more unique design combinations at the bottom of this article. Make sure to check our inspiration feed with photos added daily from our professional interior designers.
Plus, for even more interior design resources, don’t miss our other detailed guides:
- 12 Steps to Decorate a Living Room
- 13 Steps to Decorate a Beautiful Bedroom
- 18 Bedroom Design Ideas
- 42 Living Room Design Ideas
1. Art Deco
Art Deco is a style that's defined by bold, geometric patterns and luxury finishes like gold, velvet, or mirror accents. It started in the early 1900s, and by the 1920s, it defined the styles you may think of when you think of The Great Gatsby, flapper dresses, and the jazz era. It continued to grow in popularity during the Great Depression, when struggling Americans desperately wanted a sense of luxury.
An art deco room is defined by a sense of boldness, which could come from the use of vibrant colors, large patterns, or high-end materials. It's designed to feel expensive, and its strong lines, patterns, and color palettes will usually generate a strong opinion. Some people will dislike art deco spaces, and others will be obsessed with them. This is a great design for those who want their home to be bold, unique, and luxurious.
Art deco design styles include:
- Large geometric patterns, often including gold
- Textures include velvet, silk, and high-end, glossy finishes like marble, crystal, brass, mirrors, ebony
- Clean, strong lines and shapes
- Wide range of bold and moody color schemes, like black, deep purple, emerald, turquoise, or navy, often with gold accents
- Statement pieces like light fixtures or rugs
Related design styles: The geometric patterns and strong lines used in Art Deco designs are comparable to contemporary and mid-century modern designs. On the other hand, its overall feeling of luxury and focus on expensive finishes and luxury feel is most similar to glam designs.
Art Deco bedroom designed by Stuccco Online Interior Designer Joshua Jones
Today, bohemian rooms are still characterized by a lack of structure, using layers to make a space feel relaxed and personalized--often referred to as a "design aesthetic" online. There are no clearly defined rules of bohemian styles, but you can usually pinpoint the style when you see a room with lots of neutrals, textures, layers, and a comfortable, inviting feel.
Bohemian design styles include:
- Neutral color palettes (whites and tans) with jewel-tone accents like burnt orange or emerald
- Large use of textures that include rattan, wicker, and wood
- Wall hangings like macrame, baskets, or even straw hats
- Often includes unique, antique, or thrifted pieces of art or souvenirs
- Furniture finishes include gold, silver, brass, and chrome
3. Coastal & Modern Coastal
Modern Coastal sitting room designed by Stuccco Online Interior Designer Asia Richter
There is an important difference between coastal interior design vs. nautical interior design, although the two design styles have similarities and are frequently confused. Nautical interior design is much more dependent on adding ocean-themed objects, shapes, and patterns to a room, like oars, seashells, fishing hooks, ropes, and anchors. The coastal and modern coastal design styles, in contrast, bring the feeling of the beach to your home in much more subtle ways, and don't typically include many pronounced or polarizing pieces.
Instead, the coastal style uses subtle colors and textures to add softness and create a beachy feeling. Colors are reminiscent of the beach, like warm khaki colors, light beiges, warm grays, and shades of blue and aqua. Textures like jute, seagrass, and straw also bring in the feeling of the beach without specifically using beach signs or objects. Fabrics are generally light and billowy, and the space feels clean, bright, and open, without much decor or clutter.
You can see in the example photos that coastal design styles do not need to include anchors, navy colors, or other nautical items to incorporate a beachy feeling.
Modern coastal office designed by Stuccco Online Interior Designer Asia Richter
Modern coastal designs include:
- Clean lines and bright, open spaces
- Colors inspired by the ocean; light neutrals like whites and tans with blue-green accents
- Light and billowy fabrics like cotton and linen to maximize natural light
- Natural textures like woven textiles, natural wood, glass jars, jute, straw, and seagrass
Most similar to: A coastal style generally follows the same concepts as modern or contemporary design, just with the added softness of beach and natural elements. Modern coastal designs can also feel similar to minimalist interiors, which is part of what makes the home feel bright and open.
4. Contemporary or Modern
Contemporary interior design is often used interchangably with "modern interior design," and can be confusing to those who are familiar with different terminology. Contemporary and modern design styles morph over time--what was considered to be modern design in 2000 is not considered "modern" today.
Contemporary design is particularly difficult to define because it is always changing. On the other hand, it can be freeing, because you can mix styles or pieces according to your design inspiration and create your own unique style, while following just a few general rules.
Both modern and contemporary designs put an equal emphasis on form and function, and lean toward simple, uncluttered, clean lines. Although many modern decor pieces are ornamental, the furniture and finishes stay relatively simple. Contrast is particularly noticeable in modern spaces, so you'll notice lots of blacks and whites.
- Primarily neutral color palettes (whites, greys, blacks), with unique decor pieces or pops of color
- Contrasting colors, lots of blacks and whites
- Finishes can be wood, glass, metal, bronze, chrome, and brushed nickel
- Decor can include many textures, geometric patterns, and sculptures
- Curved shapes and sleek lines
Modern fireplace by Stuccco Online Interior Designer Jessica Schuler
Related design styles: Contemporary style blends ultra-modern design elements like sleek, clean lines and contrasting tones with some hints of more classic designs, like antique decor. Its flexibility is similar to bohemian and contemporary, which can combine many different design elements and styles. On the other hand, the contemporary style could also be compared to the transitional style, which combines traditional elements with a modern twist.
5. Craftsman Style (Arts & Crafts Movement)
No, "arts and crafts" doesn't just describe a preschool activity--it was actually a powerful social movement during the industrial revolution. For the first time, items were being mass-produced in factories, and there was a sharp decrease in quality of the designs and materials.
William Morris, one of the pioneers of the arts and crafts movement, responded to this decline with a renewed passion for well-made (often handmade) goods with simpler and cleaner designs that celebrated craftsmanship. In fact, there are a few phrases that are still well-known today that came from William Morris:
"Form follows function."
"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful."
These phrases became pillars that continue to define the craftsman style and the belief in well-made items. Because so many of the items being produced at the time were heavily adorned with curves and low-quality details that offered no functional value, the craftsman style strongly leans toward interior design made of only functional items. However, with function as a foundation, it also strongly values original, handmade, high-quality craftsmanship. The craftsman style also incorporates natural elements in the colors and finishes, like floral patterns and dark wood furniture.
Arts and crafts was a political and social movement, but it has had a permanent impact on interior design. Craftsman homes are still extremely popular, often characterized by wood framing, support columns, open floor plans, and exposed beams.
The craftsman style includes:
- Rich color palettes inspired by earth tones, including reds, blues
- Colors that came from natural dyes, which included warm reds, blues, and muted tones
- Patterns and motifs inspired by nature
- Straight lines and rectangular shapes
- Wood and iron finishes
Related design styles: The craftsman style is arguably the most interconnected with all of the other styles. It was created out of a dislike for what was then considered modernism, but its straight lines and shapes can actually be similar to the ones typically found in contemporary and mid-century modern designs.
On the other hand, craftsman homes often include similar elements of farmhouse homes, like wood finishes, furniture, antique pieces, and handmade accents. Even though it was very different than traditional design when it began, many craftsman homes still include more intricacies and detailing than modern styles.
In addition, one of the founding principles of the arts and crafts movement is to "have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." This is essentially the same concept as minimalism.
However, it's important to note that an eclectic design does not necessarily mean anything goes. Without careful planning, a room with all kinds of colors, textures, shapes, and styles would be the opposite of beautiful interior design--it would clash and simply look messy. Eclectic designs still stick with design principles that make a room feel cohesive, while simultaneously bending the rules.
For example, this eclectic design has many traditional pieces, like the fireplace with intricate carvings, the pillar, frame, and ornamented gold mirror. However, it's blended with a strong orange mid-century modern chair, a coffee table with sleek lines, and a few colorful and modern throw pillows. Because the items have been carefully curated, the room feels unique, interesting, and beautiful. However, in many other cases, combining elements that are diametrically opposed would end up feeling disjointed and awkward. Eclectic interior design may require more careful planning and expertise, but can have a powerful impact.
- Mixes prints, patterns, and textures
- Decor brings in different shapes and compositions
- Combines vintage pieces with modern or minimalist touches
Related design styles: Eclectic and bohemian styles are based on similar principles. Although the end designs look and feel cohesive and beautiful, both styles use elements from a variety of designs and don't follow typical design "rules." However, eclectic styles generally stick to overall design principles to make spaces work, and Bohemian does not.
In addition, any other design style can become eclectic by adding mismatched pieces. You can see a few examples like eclectic farmhouse and modern eclectic below.
The glam style has a distinct feel that separates it from every other style of interior design. It grew out of the "Golden Age" of Hollywood, around the 1930s, and is essentially the same as the design styles called "Hollywood Regency" or "Hollywood Glam."
The "glam" name accurately describes the style, which is characterized by luxury, elegance, and bold, glimmering features. It uses lush materials and fabrics and sparkling accessories to create the feeling of elegance. Items in a glam room design feel dramatic and extravagant, like curtains with sparkling trim or large mirrors with crystal accents.
- Rich colors like jewel tones and metallics
- Accents like mirrors, gold trim, and studded-edge furniture
- Statement light fixtures, beaded pillows and upholstery
- Large geometric shapes
- Finishes include velvet, suede, faux fur, marble, crystal, animal print
Glam entryway design by Stuccco Online Interior Designer Ashley Urban
Related design styles: The glam style was popularized in the 1930s, not long after Art Deco swept the U.S. Both styles are meant to feel dramatic and luxurious, and have many similarities.
However, "glam" is more recognizable, and can easily be combined with most other design styles to create unique spaces, like bohemian glam and mid-century modern glam.
Glam home office by Stuccco Online Interior Designer Joshua Jones
These original industrial homes also made good use out of some of the items left in the factory. This translated to functional pieces like trunks as coffee tables or side tables or coffee tables with wheels to easily pull them around the space.
The large, open factory buildings naturally converted into open-concept living areas, which are popular in many different design styles today. Even if you don't have a large living space, you can still incorporate industrial designs by choosing strategic colors, building materials, and minimizing your decor.
Even in smaller spaces, pay attention to negative space, and resist the urge to fill your surfaces with decor and furniture. Choose a small number of pieces with building materials like brick, concrete, or iron, and let them speak for themselves without filling up the room.
Industrial designs include:
- Exposed pipes, ducts, rafters, or brick walls
- Building materials like brick, concrete, iron, steel
- Contrasting and worn textures like leather and reclaimed wood
- Neutral color schemes, grays, whites, browns, blacks
- Uncluttered spaces, clean lines and spaces
Related design styles: The industrial style stands apart from most other design styles, most likely because of its unique origin. It is often blended with other styles, but it's always easily recognizable. Industrial design is naturally masculine, with it's plain shapes, building materials, and dark colors, while rustic is a comparable type of design that is generally more feminine.
9. Mid-Century Modern
The mid-century style uses both natural and manmade finishes, and color palettes are influenced by the colors of nature. Its focus on simplicity lends itself to a minimalistic mindset, but also frequently includes bold colors and geometric prints to drive interest. Many people don't create a fully MCM room, but heavily rely on mid-century modern furniture and pieces--the simple but unique shapes and natural finishes that define mid-century modern can work in almost every design style.
Mid-century modern designs include:
- Strong lines, shapes, and patterns (classic MCM furniture shapes shown above)
- Combines natural and manmade materials, including wood, metal, glass, vinyl, and plastic
- Natural and neutral color palette; whites, greys, and blacks combined with bright accent colors often inspired by nature (shades of green, aqua, clay red, oranges, and yellows)
- Often uses greenery to supplement feeling of nature
- Decor often uses large, bold statement canvases
Accent colors in mid-century modern designs via Overstock
Colorful mid-century modern design via Overstock
Related design styles: Mid-century modern is most similar to Scandinavian designs, with both design styles utilizing clean lines and neutrals combined with colors from nature. However, the definition of MCM is somewhat broad, so furniture and decor pieces that are considered to fit in the MCM design style tend to fit well in most other design styles.
In addition, the mid-century style's focus on incorporating elements of nature into designs is also comparable to bohemian and Southwestern, and its use of naturual materials and strong lines is similar to the industrial design style. Most importantly, mid-century modern also includes minimalist design in order to keep the design focused on statement pieces.
Mid-century modern living room design by Stuccco Online Interior Designer Jessica Schuler
10. Modern Farmhouse
Modern farmhouse living room by Stuccco Online Interior Designer Namita Madan
The farmhouse style dates all the way back to settlers in the 1700s, when furniture and decor pieces were made out of the few materials that were available, like wood, iron, and steel. Unlike mid-century modern, farmhouse designs are more focused on aesthetics and comfort than actual function.
Farmhouse spaces include rustic and historic pieces, including antiques, vintage furniture, and knick knacks. Colors usually include different shades of white and wood tones, based on what was historically available.
Even though this is one of the most historical design styles on this list, most people are very familiar with modern farmhouse design, which was massively popularized by Chip and Joanna Gaines over the last ten years. Key features in modern farmhouse designs are typically soft, weathered finishes like distressed wood and chipped paint to make spaces feel homey and comfortable, but the shapes and lines within the style are closely related to modern and minimalist styles.
Farmhouse designs include:
- Color palettes based on earth tones, like warm neutrals (whites, off-whites, beige, and warm greys), natural blues and greens
- Comfortable, oversized furniture
- Wood or shiplapped walls
- Criss-cross shaped accents on furniture, sliding doors, and decor
- Decor includes greenery, woven baskets, antiques, ceramics, and mason jars
Related design styles: Modern farmhouse designs incorporate many elements from other design styles. It uses building materials just like the industrial style, but generally communicates a stronger feeling of softness and comfort, which is a defining characteristic in Scandinavian designs. In addition, popular farmhouse designs follow many contemporary concepts, like contrasting shades and neutral palettes with pops of color.
Modern farmhouse living room by Stuccco Online Interior Designer Pamela Merritt
Scandinavian living area by Stuccco Online Interior Designer Joshua Jones
The Scandinavian style is named for it's location of origin, Scandinavia, which is a group of countries including Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, and Finland. However, the design style is globally popular and is rooted in the concept that anyone can create a beautiful style--it is not only a privilege for the rich and famous, which was often the case in the early 1900s.
Scandinavian styles are also synonymous with a concept called "hygge." Hygge is a Danish word that translates to "cozy," but is a cultural word that encompasses everything comfortable, content, and joyful.
Although Scandinavian interiors often look very similar to modern and minimalistic spaces, its heavy focus on comfort and accessibility is the main differentiator. You'll see plenty of whites and natural beiges in Scandinavian designs, which is a big factor in the hygge feeling of relaxation, calm, and beauty.
Scandinavian designs include:
- Bright whites, natural beiges, with deeply saturated accent colors like blue, emerald, rust orange, and bright yellow
- Finishes include natural textures like wood grains, copper, brass, chrome, or iron, stone
- Patterns can be bold and geometric, but not distracting to the room's overall feel
- Natural textures and textiles
- Clean, simple lines and curves
- Spaces utilize greenery; including plants or flowers in decor
Scandinavian living area by Stuccco Online Interior Designer Kelsea Babayans
Related design styles: Scandinavian is frequently confused with modern and minimalistic designs, and you can see how each of those design styles have very similar key features. However, the differences lie in the foundational premise of each style; modern design is focused on function, so lines and shapes are clean and simple, and minimalism is focused on having only the most necessary items. Scandinavian, on the other hand, uses clean lines but strongly emphasizes warm comfort and coziness.
Scandinavian design by Stuccco virtual staging
This style uses more vibrant colors, patterns, and unique shapes than almost any other design style, and creates a fun and modern yet historic feel. The vivid colors and bold graphics that define the Southwestern style are different from the bold patterns and colors in other styles, like art deco, which is what makes Southwest designs so special.
Southwestern designs include:
- Vibrant colors based on the desert, like adobe red, olive greens, bright yellows, turquoise, and warm beige neutrals
- Unique and colorful decor include pottery, woven textiles, and Talavera tiles
- Bright and bold geometric shapes
- Finishes and textures include jute, terracotta, heavy leathers, concrete, and iron
- Characterized by wood finishes and bulky furniture
Related design styles: While Southwestern style is completely unique, it often includes rustic pieces. Its styling is also compared to eclectic styles, which use a mix of layers, fabrics, and patterns to complete the design. As you can see from the example below, Southwestern pieces can even look similar to Scandinavian when they're used along with neutral colors and minimal styling.
Traditional interior designs have maintained the same concepts for centuries, but every design style is influenced by modern culture. Above is a traditional colonial living room, and below is a modern version of the traditional style.
Today's traditional furnishings and designs tend to limit the use of heavy fabrics and excessive ornamentation, and are more simplified than the original designs from the 1800s. In general, traditional design is more formal and extravagant, while modern designs are more casual, unbalanced, and simple.
Traditional designs include:
- Detailed lines, curves, and embellishments on all furniture, decor, light fixtures
- Large, heavy furniture pieces with luxurious curves
- Dark, expensive wood finishes like mahogany and cherry
- Color palettes include rich neutral tones (blacks, browns, warm beiges and tans) and light pastels as accents
Related design styles: Traditional design is a pillar in the interior design industry, which means it is not easily compared to many other styles. In fact, many of the modern styles were developed in contrast to traditional. However, transitional design is a direct adaptation of traditional design with a modern twist, so it is the most comparable interior design style.
Similar to eclectic and bohemian, transitional styles are meant to be flexible, allowing you to pick and choose specific pieces that fit your preferences. However, balance is a key element of transitional designs, so you generally have a smaller range of layers, colors, or variety than you would in an eclectic design. If you appreciate the detail and embellishments of traditional, but still want a modern, timeless feel, transitional is the best fit for you.
Transitional designs include:
- Color palettes are generally light neutrals (whites, light greys, light beige), often with muted accent colors
- Combines furniture pieces with curves and strong edges
- Finishes and textures include metal, steel, brass, upholstered furniture, soft linens
- Creates a clean, polished, balanced, and comfortable look and feel
Transitional living room design by Stuccco Online Interior Designer Beatriz Cruz
Related design styles: Transitional is unique because it is a direct bridge between modern and traditional designs. It allows you to represent multiple eras in the same space, but doesn't necessarily fit well with pieces from many other styles.
Because transitional already balances two opposing design styles, it's difficult to add in even more pieces or accents from other styles. Of course, nothing is impossible in the interior design world, but you may want to avoid combining it with a bright Southwestern mosaic or glam mirror accents.
Find Your Personal Interior Design Style
After reading through our full guide to interior design styles, you should have a better understanding of how each style is unique, where they came from, and how they are often combined with other styles. Of course, interior design is an art, not a science, so there is no unbreakable formula or black-and-white way to understand each style or even pinpoint them in different types of rooms.
In fact, interior designers who study the field for decades still continue to learn more and constantly find new, unique ways of combining styles and designing spaces.
To get an idea of what your personal design style might be, take our quick-and-easy design style quiz or book a free design call with one of our professional interior designers for a more in-depth understanding of your own style and design needs.
The type of design you choose is only limited by your own creativity and personality. Scroll through some more unique design style combinations below, and find even more on Stuccco's inspiration feed.
Eclectic Farmhouse Living Room
Eclectic farmhouse living room by Stuccco Online Interior Designer Casey Hardin
Mid-Century Modern Bedroom with Southwestern Touch
MCM bedroom by Stuccco Online Interior Designer Casey Hardin
Colorful Coastal Mid-Century Modern Bedroom
Mid-Century Modern Coastal Bedroom by Stuccco Online Interior Designer Casey Hardin
Bohemian Glam Bedrooms
Bohemian glam bedroom by Stuccco Online Interior Designer Christina Di Veto
Bohemian glam bedroom Stuccco Online Interior Designer Christina Di Veto
Mid-Century Modern Glam
MCM glam living room by Stuccco Online Interior Designer Nusrath Khambaty
Bohemian Chic Bedroom
Bohemian chic bedroom by Stuccco Online Interior Designer Nusrath Khambaty
Coastal Glam Living Room
Coastal glam living room by Stuccco Online Interior Designer Pamela Merritt
Farmhouse Coastal Living Room
Farmhouse coastal living room by Stuccco Online Interior Designer Pamela Merritt
Modern Industrial Living Room
Modern industrial living room by Stucco Online Interior Designer Namita Madan
Colorful Mid-Century Modern & Farmhouse Entryway
MCM Farmhouse entryway by Stuccco Online Interior Designer Casey Hardin
Eclectic Farmhouse Open Concept Living Area
Eclectic Farmhouse living area by Stuccco Online Interior Designer Nusrath Khambaty
Modern Playroom Design
Modern playroom by Stuccco Online Interior Designer Nusrath Khambaty
Bohemian Mid-Century Modern
MCM Bohemian by Stuccco Online Interior Designer Pamela Merritt
Eclectic and Scandinavian Living and Dining Room
Eclectic Scandinavian living room by Stuccco Online Interior Designer Casey Hardin
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