What makes an interior show its Style? Have you seen images of rooms that you like, but you wonder what makes it a particular style? Never fear, we’re here to help! Although we could write an entire blog post for each style, we will list some of the elements that are particular to each style.


  • Identifiable patterns and fabrics such as florals, paisleys, brocades, velvets.
  • Rich colors such as jewel tones combined with warm whites (usually no pure whites)
  • Metals tend to be brass, gold or nickel, never chrome Chandeliers and scones with glass crystals or other blown glass elements
  • Multi-layered trims and woodwork details
  • Classic furniture styles with fine finishes and inlays
  • All types of hand knotted vintage oriental rugs
  • Multiple patterns and colors in the same room (this is why a good traditional interior needs a deft and experienced hand) Victorians did this well.


  • Smaller scale patterns and stripes, but can include paisleys and geometrics
  • Warm color palette
  • Metals include brushed nickel and oil rubbed bronze
  • Chandeliers without crystals
  • Trims and woodwork are traditional but simpler
  • Geometric, simpler oriental rugs that can be newly made in more contemporary softer colors
  • Classic but simple furniture, still with fine finish
  • Similar to traditional design, but simpler, less saturated color palettes
  • Can include some more modern elements, but overall still classic

Mid-Century Modern

  • Natural materials such as wood, cork, wool, glass
  • Solid soft colors, less pattern, and use of tertiary colors like olive green, teal blue and mustard yellow, neither pastels nor brights
  • Wood (mostly walnut) elements on walls end even in light fixtures
  • Metal finishes are brushed steel.
  • Simple modern details such as a very low baseboard and trim
  • Modern furniture and classic lines
  • Area rugs can be vintage geometric Orientals, flat weaves or more modern solid colors
  • Warm and easy to live with. Can incorporate Asian elements as well

Modern Contemporary

  • Geometric patterns, bold colors and new materials such as acrylic and shiny metallic wallpapers
  • White walls with accents of primary color palette, including secondary colors of orange, purple and green, as well as accents of metallic geometric wallpapers
  • Metal finishes chrome and use of acrylic panels to float heavy furniture pieces
  • Lighting Chrome and white globes that reflect what is around them, and recessed lighting that disappears
  • Minimal trim, often using reveals rather than trim to cover joints
  • Hard edge crisp geometric forms for furniture
  • Use of sculpture and bold abstract art
  • Minimal accessories and clutter: lots of built-ins: sleek

Farmhouse Modern/Rustic Modern/Industrial Modern

  • Natural and rustic wood in furniture and wall treatments
    Lots of pure white, with accents of red or blue (navy and white is a favorite) or other clean colors
  • Metal finishes are black or brushed steel
  • Lighting can incorporate industrial elements such as case ribbed glass
  • Ultra-simple square edge trim and woodwork details
  • Furniture can be hand painted or raw wood, think rustic farmhouse tables and traditional furniture like a wing chair upholstered in modern colors
  • Kilim flat weave rugs or tribal rugs fit the casual vibe
  • Preppy but not perfect: industrial but not sleek


  • Mismatched Furniture
  • Fearless bold color palette
  • Handmade accessories and lighting fixtures
  • Black or brushed steel metals
  • Lots of art and locally made arts and crafts
  • Artisan made rugs or grandma’s oriental rugs
  • Artisan furniture, or furniture with artsy fabrics, think Mackenzie Childs for a bit of whimsy
  • Can incorporate Asian elements
  • Some overlap with rustic and eclectic. Beware of a mismatch overload


  • Any set of materials can work
  • Any color palette can work
  • Any style lighting can work
  • Detailing can be fancy or simple
  • Furniture can be any style
  • Any style of rug can work
  • Eclectic melds multiple styles into an environment, such as Asian with Modern, or Brooklyn Industrial with farmhouse Rustic, or it can be as simple as putting ultra-Modern lighting into a Traditional style room.

The Key to a successful eclectic style and to avoid a jumbled mess, is to select just two styles, and be consistent in their application/use. If you have a lot of experience with mixing style, you can probably get away with combining three styles. Fashion magazines often will combine the latest designer couture with something vintage or off the rack. To me, the eclectic style has the most risk and the most reward. Having lived through so many design trends over the years, I feel that the eclectic style can allow you to keep your favorite things (That bring you joy, as Marie Kondo would say) while adding new things and paring down objects that don’t fill a design or emotional need.

A note from Leslie Saul.

I have a traditional shingle style colonial house on an urban sized lot, in a neighborhood that has been developed over the past two hundred years. Every house is traditional, but they do not look alike. I knew that I wanted to respect my house’s arts and crafts style roots 1911, but I also wanted to incorporate modern elements. I wanted some spaces to be filled with light and other spaces rich and cozy.

As I have collected art and furniture over the years, I have pieces from many eras: a Victorian Sofa, and aesthetic movement breakfront, some modern Italian dining Chairs and a cantilevered dining table from the 1980’s a sectional from the 1970’s, contemporary kitchen stools from 2018.

An artist painted my floors in the Kitchen that are a bit like Alhambra meets the Jetsons, and she also painted chicken scratched coral and gold strié­ walls in the dining room, and hand painted watercolor peach drapery that I rescued from a dumpster for the living room. Calm peachy light gold silk wallcovering in the living room looks great with the rescued drapes.

My art collection spans from student art from 1970’s RISD, to 20th century masters whose work is in museums, to my own paintings not close to that caliber, but fun, to some inherited Asian art and Porcelain vases from my in-laws, and some watercolors by Cincinnati artists from my parents.

As I describe all of this, I realize that this sounds like a hot mess! Perhaps this is a lesson in what NOT to do. However, the effect is warm and layered and I see my life surrounding me. It doesn’t look like something from a traditional or a modern magazine cover, but it feels like home. Its lack of a specific style makes it timeless. My design tastes and my intellectual interests are wide ranging. Since I think that life is messy, unpredictable and complicated, I do not believe that real life can fit into a minimalist modern box.

What is your style? Do you fit comfortably in to one of these seven popular styles? Or perhaps you think you have no style at all?! Are you fond of a variation of one of the styles?

Contact us through our website and let us know what you think. We can have some fun with quick quizzes that can help us discover the right style for you.

We are passionate about the power of design, whether you use it at work, or as you play, age, live, or learn

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