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What is Transitional Interior Design Style?

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Unless you are an interior designer, if you are looking into redesigning your home or office space, you are probably lost and confused about how many different interior design styles there are. Of course you are!


One that often confuses people is transitional interior design. In this article we will be going over different kinds of interior design, and how to achieve them. So, what is transitional interior design? 

Transitional interior design is a combination of contemporary and traditional design. By taking elements from both types of design such as furniture peaces, finish, flooring and colors, we get a relaxed, but contemporary result, which more and more people fall in love.

Before we get into more details, let’s examine separately traditional and contemporary design styles to see exactly where our transitional design is originating from. 

Traditional interior design and it’s features

Traditional interior design is inspired by the 18th and 19th centuries. Spaces that utilize traditional design are typically known for their neutral foundations of cream, beige and gray. Traditional interior design is distinct and predictable.

Traditional interior design and it's features

Most traditional spaces will feel cozy and comfortable, while flaunting intricate details. Oftentimes, traditional spaces will have neutral-toned walls with detailed woodwork, carved moldings, and study furniture. The space incorporates classic art and antiques with history, and simplicity with complexity. Traditional spaces invoke a sense of family and gathering.

The look feels very casual but effortlessly classy. A traditional interior design style will bring your home a class, calm and timeless look that is appealing in all settings at all points in history.

How to design your home traditional way?

To design your home in a traditional way, you should make use of dark-stained wood flooring and furniture, and contrast it with a light, neutral colored wall. With this contrast, it looks great to add a pop of color to your furniture, whether with a pillow or a tablecloth.

To really bring out the traditional feel, some add some details that are very intricate, like carved wood moldings or a textured fabric on a sofa. Oftentimes the designer will also use accent pieces like sculptures and mirrors to bring back the traditional feel.

When designing your traditional space, it is always important to make your space feel as though it is comfortable, and effortlessly luxurious. 

Some people feel traditional interior design style is too outdated, and seems a bit too fussy. Intricate details are everything when designing a traditional space and for some that seems like too much work!

That is why combining the traditional style with the contemporary style to make a transitional style is a great idea and is a great happy medium.

Modern and Contemporary Interior Design Styles

First, it is important to note that modern and contemporary interior design styles are not the same, though they sound like it.

Modernism started in the late 19th century, reaching its highest popularity in the 1930’s. Modernism often featured bold lines. Warm woods and primary tones, it embraced a lot of symmetry and evoked a sense of balanced comfort.

On the contrary, contemporary interior design refers to the now. Homes that are described as modern today, means interior designers incorporate contemporary style inside. This includes updated materials, finishes, cool tones, cutting-edge shapes and lines.

Contemporary style will change with the times, modernism will always stay the same. 
Contemporary designed bathroom
Contemporary designed Bathroom


There are many similarities between modern and contemporary interior design styles. They both have very minimal aesthetics; there is nothing in the design that is not functional. Both also utilize clean lines to make the space feel simple and elegant and they also have an open-space feel.

Unlike traditional interior design that benefits off of having many different spaces, modern and contemporary designs utilize one big space with an open floor plan to make it feel more spacious. Both also use a simple color pallet to create their atmosphere. 

Basics of Modern Interior Design

Modern interior design, like we said, is specific to the 19th century. It prioritized functional, but simply designed furniture. With roots in Scanadinavian and German architecture and design, the modern style concepts are always simple.

The furniture and decor focuses on earthy colors and eliminates unnecessary detailing. The focus of modern interior design is often placed on the use of monochromatic colors and patternless woods and fabrics.

All furniture and decor in a modern style design have a purpose or set function. There is minimal clutter in both modern and contemporary interior design.  

Basics of Contemporary Interior Design 

Contemporary design is more fluid than modernism, it changes with the times. It seem more eclectic since it often takes styles from different eras and also follows a format of minimalism.

Contemporary style also utilize open floor plan but tends to do so in a way that utilizes different, more industrial materials. Materials such as exposed brick, concrete, or glass are typical components of a contemporary styled space. Usually contemporary spaces utilize large windows to help make the space feel even more open. 

Many do not like the contemporary interior design style because can be too far out of their comfort zones. The style can feel cold and unwelcoming to some. This is why many like to pair the contemporary design style with the traditional style, to create a happy medium of warmth and modernity. 

What is Transitional Interior Design Style?

Transitional interior Design combined two opposite styles together to fulfill the needs of those who like little bit of both. Style started to develop in the 1950s and became more and more popular by interior designers who started to implement it more and more.

Why? Transitional style furniture gives a relaxed, but contemporary feeling to overall space and people love it!

To create transitional interior design style, you have to take elements of both traditional and contemporary interior design, but do it in a way that magnifies the importance of each element.

If you do this correctly, you will create a merge between these two designs into a timeless design that creates a relaxed and less uptight feel than contemporary design, but a more up to date feel than traditional design. 

How to Create a Transitional Interior Design Style

To successfully create a transitional interior design styled space, you have to tastefully mix a combination of classic and modern furniture, finishes, and colors. Here are some tips creating it:

  • Typically, a transitional interior design space uses a lack of color to evoke a clean atmosphere; often a dark brown that will add depth to a neutral balance of lighter colors.
  • From the contemporary interior design style, transitional design takes the minimalist approach when choosing accessories.
  • Taking a page out of the traditional design’s book, transitional design includes details in the furniture, such as a textured couch or carved legs of a couch.
  • The transitional style furniture is often designed with a curve combined with straight lines to balance between the femininity of traditional design and the masculinity of contemporary design. This combination creates a comfortable, cozy yet modern looking design. 

Furnishings and Home Decor present in Transitional Design

Since transitional style is a balanced blend of traditional and modern styles, you must combine the furnishings and Home decor of both styles. This kind of style is great for those who prefer a lighter traditional look.

Transitional home decor retains the classic aspects of traditional styles, like lines and structure, but the colors and furnishings tend to be more contemporary in their design.

This design style is great because it creates a less bold feel than one would find in a contemporary space, and more modern and less fussy than what you may find in a traditionally designed space. 

When choosing decor for your transitional interior design space follow this simple tips:

  1. You should focus on the details and decorate accents to change the feel from a traditional home decor to a transitional one.
  2. Use rugs, pillows and blankets to layer a room. This makes it more complex and gives it a contemporary feel.
  3. It is a good idea to include a few bold pieces such as large paintings, framed photographs, and bold lighting pieces. These are the perfect addition to bridge the gap between traditional and modern.
  4. To add even more of a connection between the two styles, try using a variety of textures and finishes such as velvet, corduroy, metal finishes, or glass. These will give the room more texture and elevate those layers even more.
Transitional interior design decor

What are transitional interior design features? 

Every style has its own unique features They depend on the color and furniture designed threw the place and how all is combined together.

  • Color palettes: Transitional interior design color palettes incorporate perfect balance between cool and warm tones. Colors feel calm. We can find anything from neutral colors, Soft grey, light blue and also little bit of green as well. Don’t be afraid to mix and match you color choice threw your design.
  • Texture elements: Texture is important in any style but in transitional interior design is really important. This style comes alive when we add right amount of texture.
  • Furniture: Transitional style furniture usually present center role. Furniture Pieces are often larger and take up most of focus in the room. Design should look and feel comfortable. Style combines the lines and curves together. It wants to be clean but warm and inviting at the same time. 
Spanish farmhouse convert Ed in to beautiful transitional inspired home
  • Accessories: Accessories play important part. Similar to Minimalism less accessories is more tend to be “not written” rule. Colors can be bolder as well. You can also combine more contemporary materials such as concrete and glass.
Decoration is important part of transitional interior design

Transitional colors are known and divided into two parts. First are light neutral colors and the second part are darker shades.

Transitional bedroom interior design

It can be overwhelming and hard to choose perfect “transitional” color when you can find hundreds of blue and gray paint color choices. Having good knowledge what transitional color is, will help you make amazing transition from warm to cool tones throughout your home.

A transitional color should have stronger balance of cool and warm tones. Most of colors are made out of 90% warm and 10% of cool tone. If we look at transitional color is should be closer to 50/50 or maybe 60/40.

How to Create a Cohesive Transitional Style

To create a cohesive transitional look everything should work together with the right balance of colors.

Cohesive Transitional dining room interior design
  • Modern and traditional elements: you can replace classic elements with modern ones or even use both and mix it up a little to make the perfect combination. Combine both elements together and put one piece over another. 
  • Know your house foundation: you should understand how the house itself is made and what fits best for it.
  • Play with texture: in the transitional look, texture is important. Play with it as much as you can. You can use texture in a rug, pillow or even an artwork. Anything that brings art in the place would be perfect. 
Different textures in this transitional interior designed Bedroom

To have a cohesive look everything should work and blend together perfectly.

How do you make a transitional style living room?

Follow this three simple tips to creat transitional style living room:

  • Natural is the key: the transitional fashion is all approximately evoking a feel of serenity and cleanliness. You may use darker colors like dark brown, which will upload depth to the region, mixed with taupe or cream. In case you want to move impartial however live vivid and ethereal, you can put a Grey or baby blue to your place to give it the feeling.
Transitional living room design
  • Curves and straight lines: contemporary leans towards the curve furniture and the modern leans towards the straight-line design. Try to incorporate both and find perfect blend together.
  • Texture: add mix of modern and classical decor elements threw your living room. Try not to have them to much and choose quality over quantity.

Most important when making your transitional style living room, you should combine what you love and make it blend in your own way. Living room is the main room people see and spend time in. Make it warm and inviting. Designing it transitional, you will do just that.

Difference Between Transitional Interior Design and Eclectic Interior Design 

Sometimes transitional interior design is confused with eclectic interior design. Though this is a common comparison, the two styles are quite different.

Main difference between a transitional design style and an eclectic style, is that an eclectic space prioritizes individual pieces, rather than a room.

Eclectic interior design

Eclectic interior design is much less refined and much less consistent. It is much more bold than a transitional interior design look. Think of it more as a high-energy collection of individual pieces brought together to create a rich interior.

Some believe that eclectic design looks too busy, or thrown together, but if done right it can be very tasteful, for the right space.

If you use a neutral color palette and use a few distinct colors, then it will balance color and texture, perfectly blending old and new.

Why Transitional Interior Design?

Transitional interior design is one of the most popular styles in the world today, and for good reason! Transitional interior design is a happy medium between traditional and contemporary design, perfect for you if you find traditional design too stuffy and contemporary design way out of your comfort zone.

Is this style to traditional for you? Check out contemporary interior design features and see if it is better option for you. You may want to read what are 7 principles of interior design , which I believe is base of each design.

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