The Eklectic Blog

“Baby, You’ve got Style.” But…Which One? – The Different Interior Design Styles

If you were to describe your home’s interior style, what words would you use? “Shabby chic”? “Retro-modern”? Or, “old stuff mixed with new stuff”? Hey, no judgment here, especially if it works for you. But, if you’re looking for something new and feel overwhelmed with all the seemingly endless range of styles in magazines like Architectural Digest or sites like Pinterest, we’re here to help. Believe it or not, we can narrow down your choices to four: Traditional, Modern, Contemporary and Eclectic.

Yes, these are the four main interior design style categories, the quintessential foundation from which other interior design styles are derived. Always pay attention to what elements you feel more drawn to when picking out furniture, accessories, colors or patterns, and the rest will be easy to put together. We’ll help you pick what will work, what will clash and what will look absolutely stunning, a brilliant representation of your personal style.

Let’s review the four standard design styles, in brief, to see which one truly speaks to your lifestyle and personality:


Eklectic Interiors - Traditional Interior Design StyleEklectic Interiors - Traditional Interior Design Style
Traditional interiors are more formal and vary from English and French to American styles: think turn-of-the-century furniture made of oak, walnut or mahogany — like wing-backed or Queen Anne chairs with S-shaped cabriole legs – with plush textural fabrics and ornate accessories for the former two and simple, straight lines for the latter. Homes with architectural crown moldings, arches, intricate tile designs, columns and built-in furniture are also key features of a traditional design style.


Eklectic Interiors - Contemporary Interior Design StyleEklectic Interiors - Contemporary Interior Design Style
The basic definition of contemporary is “of the moment.” Contemporary art, design, and interiors are “of the day.” They exist in the here-and-now. And, taking this further, they could only exist in the here-and-now because ten years ago some of the materials and pieces wouldn’t have been available. And in ten years from now, there will be new pieces that do not exist today. Yesterday’s contemporary is today’s vintage. And tomorrow’s contemporary is still unknown.

Contemporary style today features streamlined shapes, softer lines and reflective materials, more geometrical shapes, metallic finishes, bold wall treatments, muted color schemes with punches of color accents, darker wood finishes, more glam and glitz.


Eklectic Interiors - Modern Interior Design StyleEklectic Interiors - Modern Interior Design Style
Modern decor’s sensibility strips away even more, taking an extreme minimalist view on style. The most important element to this design is maintaining an uncluttered space. Modular furniture, glass accents and metals, like chrome and stainless. steel, are key pieces found in this design style. Black and white color choices mixed with bright, bold furniture pieces are a staple in designing a modern look. Modern design focuses on the form of its featured pieces and highlights each one like a piece of art by allowing them room to breathe.


Eklectic Interiors - Eclectic Interior Design StyleEklectic Interiors - Eclectic Interior Design Style

Eclectic interiors combine different decorating styles based on the pieces you love. The furniture choices and accessories may come from various time periods and eras, but the ultimate goal to designing an eclectic room is to have the selected pieces work harmoniously together — to transport you to different parts of the world or tell a complete story. One of the hardest styles to pull off — due to its melting-pot approach — it requires a more careful touch and a singular theme, such as a color scheme, to unify the room.

See, that wasn’t so bad, was it. But wait – you still seem overwhelmed. That’s OK! Let’s start simple: how about an inventory of what items of furniture, colors, accessories, etc. you have right now, in your home? Try to think of these certain aspects while reviewing:

  1. Multiples. Look for multiple items of the same color, shape or style around your house. Unless you buy two of everything, it usually means you prefer that particular look.
  2. Form over function. If there’s something you just can’t bear to throw away, even if it is way past its prime or purpose (rotary-phone owners, we’re looking at you), this is a good clue that its value to you is more personal than professional.
  3. Art, for art’s sake. Chances are you aren’t the one usually waving the paddle wildly at Christie’s auction house. But that doesn’t mean you aren’t a lover of fine art. Look at the posters, the paintings, the pottery you’ve purchased. What jumps out to you, catches your eye?
  4. One of these things is not like the other… When looking around at all you own, you’ll start to see what items blend and unite with one another. This is a great indication of style. However, you may also notice an “odd man out” – something that doesn’t quite fit in, and yet…this may actually be a signifier of a style you’re intrigued by, but not ready to commit to quite yet.
  5. Check your bags. What was your most recent purchase for the home? Was it an impulse buy, and doesn’t seem to quite work but you still like it? Hang on to it, because it may hold the key to what you truly find appealing.
  6. Favorite haunts. This is a big one, because a lot can be revealed from the places you happen to enjoy spending time in. First off, where do you like to shop for furniture? Antique stores, flea markets, or large modern galleries? Next, what about your absolute fave hotel? Is it the quaint Victorian B n B or the flashy, sleek urban hi-rise? Is what you consider the best restaurant in town a cozy bistro or a brushed-steel hipster sushi joint? And finally, where do you go to relax on vacation, and what do you bring back? Terra-cotta pots or seashells and sand dollars? A lot of insight into your interior design style preferences can be gleaned just by peeking in your suitcase or looking through your travel photos.
  7. Here’s an easy one: What the best room in the house? The one you’re never worried about people accidentally going into while looking for the bathroom. There’s a very good reason: you like the style. Huzzah! See if it is something that can be replicated throughout the house.
  8. And finally, Your Online Identity. What is on your Pinterest board? Where do you always seem to go when researching home décor?  Pay attention to your pins, they can speak louder than words!

After you’ve done your inventory (a fun one, in our humble opinion), come back and we’ll discuss which of the four basic design styles seem to be your interior design spirit animal. Uh, we mean style.