The Most Popular Interior Design Styles Explained

Rose Morrison

Jul 24, 2020

interior design styles explained

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What do you envision when you think about your favorite interior design style? If you have something specific in mind, there’s probably a name for it. There are so many interior design styles out there to choose from.

From modern to mid-century, lots of inspiration exists from different time periods and design sensibilities. Here’s a look at the most popular interior design styles so that you can determine which one aligns with your tastes.

1. Farmhouse

Farmhouse kitchen

The classic farmhouse look has existed for years, but it’s recently taken over Pinterest and every other design website. That’s probably because it’s HGTV’s Joanna Gaines’s go-to style. A farmhouse home aims to look relaxed and lived-in with white, neutral and black tones featured throughout each room. Most farmhouse-style homes highlight rustic elements like exposed wood beams.

One of the most popular areas to incorporate farmhouse design is in your kitchen. Open shelving and shaker-style cabinets are the norm, but you have countless creative options to choose from.

You’d enjoy a farmhouse interior if you want a laid-back space with muted colors. Try decorating with natural wood tables and black metal accents throughout each room. Build off those key points with subtle touches.

2. Modern

modern living room decor

A modern home emphasizes sleek, minimalist decor with straight lines. There aren’t any loud colors, patterns or shapes. Those who choose modern design styles often focus on white and black as base shades. There may be a bright art piece, but it’s common to stick with simple features. Many modern houses also include more metal, stone and glass than warmer elements like wood.

If you want a futuristic appearance, you may enjoy modernism. A modern home doesn’t often work unless the entire home — inside and out — looks minimalist. But you can still experiment with modern characteristics if you aim for completely sleek designs.

3. Bohemian

bohemian living room with houseplants and bright colors

This interior style remains a popular choice for homeowners everywhere. A bohemian space features carefree details that truly highlight the designer’s vision. These homes usually have woven rugs and textiles alongside vintage furniture. The bohemian look includes various colors to make the space feel cozy and vibrant. It’s also common to find several houseplants in the mix.

The bohemian style often works well for people who want a more fun home. You have a little more agency with the bohemian style because you can express your lifestyle clearly. Think floor pillows and artsy tapestries for this one.

4. Maximalist

maximalist living room with eccentric paintings and colors

A maximalist or eccentric interior design style exudes funkiness. These homes aren’t afraid to highlight colors and patterns throughout each room. Picture a dark-toned wall with wooden bookshelves and velvet couches. Those who choose this design aren’t afraid to mix and match their favorite pieces together. But that doesn’t mean they clash. It’s all about chaotic balance.

You can pull off maximalism, but it’s essential not to be overly dramatic. You still want your space to look presentable. Try to aim for a common theme you can work around as you decorate. A more methodical approach can keep your house eccentrically beautiful when decorating.

5. Contemporary

Contemporary living room

It’s easy to mistake the contemporary style for the modern style. The former refers to a more fluid approach to clean designs. Those who take a contemporary approach may include modern or minimalist features, but they’ll also incorporate their own tastes. For example, they could pair a yellow-toned leather couch with a glass coffee table and a textured patterned rug.

You could explore the contemporary style if you don’t want to go fully modern. This way, it’ll be easier to have those personal touches that don’t exactly mix with a stricter modern look. It’s also easier to choose contemporary looks for decorating purposes. You’ll probably already have appropriate pieces to incorporate.

6. Industrial

an industrial accented bedroom with large bright windows and dangling lights

The industrial interior design style has prominent warehouse vibes. It looks a little unfinished when compared to other looks. Think exposed pipes and ducts, as well as concrete surfaces. It’s easier to achieve an industrial look if you can feature those aspects.

There isn’t often much color involved with industrial. It’s definitely colder than other interior design styles, but it’s still possible to incorporate soft elements.

It helps if your home already has exposed decor like brick walls. But you can create an industrial house with metal fixtures and stone surfaces, too. You can also incorporate modern art and furniture. Those additions make sense within industrial spaces.

7. Scandinavian

Scandinavian living room

Consider the Scandinavian style to be a cousin to modernism. Scandinavians like to create warm and vibrant homes because they experience harsh, dark winters. That’s exactly why many people love this style.

It’s approachable yet minimalist. It provides a calm look complete with white walls, wooden fixtures and warm-toned furniture. There isn’t a better choice for those who want a modern home without any coldness.

If you like IKEA furniture, you’ll probably enjoy a Scandinavian home. Try a natural wood dining room table with a modern light fixture above. Focus on white, neutrals and black as your main colors.

8. Mid-Century Modern

Mid-century modern living room

The mid-century modern look dates back to the 1950s and 1960s. It displays natural tones and contemporary designs for a simple, comfortable feel. Those who decorate with this interior design don’t hesitate to include bold colors sporadically. There are also several modern touches that help to create a current look. It’s also common to see geometric shapes, as well as natural materials and textiles.

If you watched “Mad Men” and enjoyed its design aspects, you’d probably love a mid-century modern home. Choose a mix between “dated” furniture and modern components to create the perfect balance.

9. Rustic

Rustic kitchen

Wood features are the key details behind rustic homes. Many rustic homes emphasize massive wood beams or doors that create a base for other features. Because rustic homes are incredibly nature-focused, it’s essential to incorporate warm colors and furniture within the space. It’s also easy to find rustic homes that highlight industrial components like metal and concrete.

This interior design style works especially well for people who already own homes with stark wood components. But you can always add wood tables, doors and chairs to mimic those elements if your house doesn’t have them. Decorating should revolve around those details.

10. Coastal

Coastal bedroom

The coastal interior design style highlights beach-inspired components. They mainly feature whites and blues and greens for the central color scheme. There’s often tan or cream furniture that helps to keep the space chic and muted. It’s also popular to incorporate seashells, sand and other beach elements for a genuine atmosphere. Natural materials like wicker and wood are common.

You probably won’t find a coastal home anywhere that isn’t a beach. That said, you can always incorporate coastal inspiration into your current design. Try to add more blues and greens, as well as natural furniture and decor.

11. Victorian

a dimly lit grand Victorian sitting room

While some vintage styles toss an abundance of eras together into one antique destination, Victorian style has a bit more of a centered identity than the others. While Victorian homes often suit this decor style quite well, you certainly don’t need a vintage home to implement this style into your repertoire.

Often categorized by heavy furniture, more ornate furnishings, knick-knacks and intricate artwork, Victorian-style decor often combines the very best decorative elements with a dignified and consistent sense of drama.

While this style certainly isn’t for the faint of heart, it doesn’t demand that you toss your beloved trinkets or rob your space of color. In a lot of ways, it’s a maximalist approach with a defined time period in mind to give it a bit of direction.

12. Minimalism

a minimalist setting with white walls and a clock with flowers

Since we just mentioned maximalism, minimalism is a logical next step. While the minimalist lifestyle movement is separate in many ways from the minimalist design style, the two can also go hand in hand for many obvious reasons. Minimalism is all about clean lines, sleek surfaces and simplicity.

Often, it’s defined by what it leaves out — ornaments, decoration or reductive design elements. Many people who go for the minimalist style in their home report that it encourages a feeling of calm and relaxation.

While minimalism can involve finding new furniture and stylings to match the aesthetic, it’s probably possible with whatever furniture you already have. Much like the minimalist lifestyle, it’s more about clearing the unwanted clutter away and focusing on the simpler things.

13. Shabby Chic

a shabby chic table setting with flowers and notebooks

Shabby chic is a style mostly defined by its light colors, vintage details and distressed wood tones throughout the furnishings. When it comes to the feeling of a shabby chic space, it’s exactly what it sounds like. Everything aims to feel lived in, warm and comfortable by focusing on some of the lighter sides of vintage and antique inspiration.

Often defined by soft textiles, pastel colors and knick-knacks, shabby chic homes are designed to feel inviting and casual, while still remaining stylized. It takes some inspiration from the rustic design style, but skews a bit lighter and focuses less on nature as an inspiration. When nature does come in, you can be sure to find some tasteful florals in the art and textile designs.

14. Feng Shui

A balanced living space with a wooden end table and a wooden plant stand

Feng shui as a design principle is based on the broader concept of Chinese geomancy, which focuses on using energy to harmonize people, objects and spaces. While much of feng shui is rooted in the practical tips of achieving positive energy flow in a space, these ideas and practices can result in a defined style that feels serene and encourages the exact sense of peace that people often expect from it.

Based on the five elements — earth, fire, water, metal and wind — as well as direction and positioning, feng shui has a variety of guidelines, all with their own reasoning. For example, it’s important to avoid facing the backs of chairs towards the door in a living space, as it should instead feel balanced and inviting.

While creating a feng shui space might require a bit of extra learning, you can then find the freedom to understand which elements are most important to you and use them to your advantage.

15. Hollywood Glam

a glamorous bedroom with a chandelier and a large mirror

If you simply can’t get enough of old movie glamor and drama, Hollywood glam could be worth a look. The Hollywood glam design style is often defined by rich colors, decadent fabrics like silk and velvet, large art pieces and metallic detailing. Deep reds and jewel tones, chandeliers and luscious curtains are especially popular details in the Hollywood glam style.

While it’s absolutely possible to go a bit more subtle, this style can often be the perfect companion for going all-out with the drama, sparkle and shine. It’s great for those who love the vintage elements of the twentieth century more than those of slightly older time periods. Due to the highly stylized drama, Hollywood glam can often feel fancy and luxurious.

Incorporate These Interior Design Styles Into Your Home

These interior design styles explained can help you determine which works best for you. Whether you have an artsy spirit or want to create a total zen palace, it’s all about finding what calls your name.

You can even mix and match these looks together to put your own spin on them. It’s never too late to find your ideal home look.

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