Designer Tips

Define Your Style: Traditional + Transitional

Can you define your style? It can be easy to name off colors you love and narrow down your favorite pieces of furniture, but can you give your style a name? Throughout a series of blog posts, we will be diving into various design styles to help you learn how to define your own personal style. So, is your style traditional or transitional?

What is Traditional Style?

Traditional style is a well-curated mix of beautiful furniture throughout history. It combines luxe, elegance and comfort all in one space. Since it doesn’t highlight one single era, it creates a collection of timeless furniture that appeals to all generations, creating a feeling of familiarity which results in spaces that will never go out of style.

Source: Barclay Butera

What details do you see in this style?

Architectural Details

The architectural details in Traditional spaces look like they have been there for hundreds of years. Think crown molding, wood-paneling, detailed trim work and columns.

Symmetry is Very Important

Symmetry creates a calm and orderly space which makes it very important to the Traditional style because of the various types of furniture used. Symmetry is used in the wall decor, furniture placement and lighting. The entire room’s layout is usually centered around a big focal point (like a fireplace, prominent painting, etc.) which creates a very centered and symmetrical space.

A Collection of Different Furniture

Since the Traditional style is a well-curated mix of furniture throughout history, the furniture in these spaces are going to be statement pieces and antique finds. Furniture is often ornate, upholstered and tufted. Items that are lacquered, veneer or laminate are usually avoided in this style.

Powerful, Warm Color Tones

Traditional spaces use a lot of muted creams, taupes, light grays and stays away from stark whites and black. Dark, rich jewel tones along with reds, browns and greens are also used a lot in color schemes. A well-established color scheme is very important in these spaces because they bring a sense of harmony and order to the mix of furnishings throughout the room.

Fabrics are Luxe and Detailed

Most of the fabrics used for furniture, window treatments, pillows, etc. are silk, velvet, leather and other high-end materials. Besides being heavy, rich fabrics, they are often full of detail and trim to make them extra special. Common patterns are paisley, plaid, damask and florals.

Grand, Ornate Styling Pieces

The styling in Traditional homes are normally big and dramatic, think large scale sculptures and floral arrangements. Large candles and vases are pieces that are usually on display, usually in vignettes filled with other quality, ornate decor objects.

Source: Rachel Parcell
Source: Barclay Butera

What is Transitional Style?

Transitional style is a mixture of Traditional and Contemporary styles. It all started when people wanted the newest, more modern looks but still wanted the comfort and luxury of the classic, Traditional style. This resulted in spaces that used characteristics from both styles to creative a timeless, sophisticated, yet edgy look.

Source: Harrison Design

What details do you see in this style?

Simple, Sophisticated Furniture

Clean, straight-line furniture is the majority of the pieces you will see in this style, with a few curved or rounded pieces. They are simple in shape and scale to keep the entire design sophisticated but still focusing on comfort.

Neutral Color Schemes

Transitional design uses a lot of tans, creams, grays, blacks, taupes and whites. Using neutrals as a base for the room creates a clean and serene environment which is very contemporary and modern. Pops of color are usually added in through accessories (rugs, pillows, throws, art, etc).

Full of Contrasting Textures

Since there isn’t a lot of color in Transitional spaces, texture plays a huge role. Various textures work together to create a cozy space that is full of contrast. Think a big mixture of corduroy, cotton, chenille, suede, wood, glass, lacquer, rattan and metal.

Minimal Approach to Styling

Each decorative piece is carefully chosen to make a big impact, rather than a lot of small, random items. This could be a statement rug, oversized art, floor plant, unique chandelier or a sculptural object. Window treatments are usually simple and crisp. The focus in these rooms are through the various textures and furniture lines, so the styling is kept to a minimal to not overwhelm the space.

Source: Harrison Design

Which style are you?

Some people can easily fit themselves into one category and some people love and use a little bit of all different styles. We hope this gives you a better look inside the traditional and transitional styles and taught you how to distinguish between the two and what details you can use to better achieve your desired style.

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, we will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. All opinions and recommendations are our own.

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