4 Most Common Interior Design Styles You Should Know

Contemporary, Mid-Century Modern, Industrial, Shabby Chic and the list goes on. You've come across these words, or styles rather, at least once in your life but what defines this style? Does Contemporary mean use of futuristic furnishing and what's the difference between this style and the Modern Style? Interior Design styles can help homeowners who are lost as to what style best suits them when they can't think of their own personal style.

1. Industrial Style
It must have been a challenge trying to conceal the eyesores of old warehouses, factories, and lofts and thus, the industrial style was born. Paring a space down to its bare minimum must have worked because this style shows no signs of slowing down. It's even used in large office spaces. Industrial Design is all about exposing what people would normally try to conceal in a space and those details are what makes a space interesting. More characteristics can be found as below,

Open Spaces – Industrial was derived from large factories and warehouses so it makes sense that it makes use of open concept floor plans divided with smart placement of furniture. Kitchens, dining and living areas are all combined into one large space usually divided by an island counter or any other table. A cohesive style is also maintained all throughout the space.

The interplay of Wood, Metal, and Concrete – Perhaps, the most well-known trait of Industrial Design is its wide use of metal. Stainless steel and other shiny metals are dismissed and instead, use of metals in the matte finish is preferred. The wonderful brownish color of copper can be used as an accent metal color. To avoid the heavy feeling, the look can be balanced with the use of wood and stone. Salvaged wood is highly favored and this is where that yard sale finds will come into play. Polished concrete floors are also a trademark but for people who find it extreme, wood planks can be an alternate. Another option is to use rugs that will complement the space.

Neutral Colors – Industrial has given people the idea that it uses mostly gray or neutral colors. The beauty of this style is because the colors are mostly subdued, bright pops of colors can be added as a surprise feature. Warm contrasting colors are popular because it contrasts highly with the gray.

2. Shabby Chic
Shabby Chic tends to pull in a lot of designers and homeowners because it combines comfort and style in one. The style is so laidback and cozy that when looked at, you can't help but feel relaxed. It's feminine, romantic and relaxing all rolled into one. Other elements of Shabby Chic are,

Distressed Furniture - Shabby Chic lean towards worn-down furniture making vintage finds the perfect choice. Distressed Victorian furniture makes their way into bedrooms and whitewash wood are either chosen as flooring or wall treatments. Peeling paint chipped and cracked wood furniture are traits Shabby Chic style lovers look for when shopping for vintage furniture.

White and Pastel Colors – White is the hallmark color of Shabby Chic paired with a few pastel colors like mint green and neutral floral patterns. The style has, however, evolved and use of more colorful patterns are now being mixed into the style even going so far as to including colors like charcoal gray and black, a break from the all-white palette.

Coziness – Shabby Chic is all about giving off the feel of a relaxing vibe, so think of poufs, fluffy pillows, and soft linens sometimes mixed with a couple of lace and ruffles.

3. Contemporary Design
Contemporary design is one of the most puzzling styles, simply because it's often confused with Modern design. The difference between the two is still a debatable topic amongst architects, designers, and homeowners. To simplify it, Modern style refers to the style that rose in the 20th century while Contemporary style is the style being produced now as in here in the moment. It may look and feel the same but the difference is immediately known by comparing Modern and Contemporary structures. More details about contemporary design are as below,

Clean, sleek lines – Simple lines, coupled with simple and uncomplicated geometric forms, these define the Contemporary style. Not only is this reflected in the architectural details but also in furniture and furnishings. Heavy drapes are traded in for simpler roll-up blinds and shades. Contemporary furniture includes the use of new innovative materials in different styles that provide both comfort and function.

Neutral and light colors – In line with its goal towards simplicity, beige, cream or off-white, gray, tan and black are trademark colors of the Contemporary style. To avoid falling into boredom with a neutral palette, colors with undertones can be used. Bright colors can also be used as accents.

Shiny Materials – Contemporary style makes use of polished shiny features. Stainless steel polished tiles, glass, and mirror can playfully bounce light in a room. Pair it with other matte surfaces to tone down too much reflectivity.

4. Mid-Century Modern
This style is proof that even when decades have passed, it can still remain a popular choice for designers and homeowners. The style emerged during the 1940s up to the 1970s after World War II. It was a style created to give the design a fresh, new start after an era of war. This was also the Golden Era of popular furniture designers like Eames, Saarinen, Aalto and Van de Rohe. Mid-Century Modern also shows some characteristics as below,

Simple and Uncomplicated – Mid-Century Modern always go for a simple design to create the harmony in the room.

Colorful and Neutral – Natural wood color is predominantly used, as well as tans and beiges but what makes Mid-Century Modern pop out from the rest of the styles, is that it uses bolder pops of colors. Teals, avocado greens, red-orange and mustard yellow were popular color choices. Graphic patterns were also chosen to adorn walls.

Iconic Furniture – This style wouldn't be complete without the people who dominated this style. George Nelson's coconut chair, Charles and Ray Eames Lounge Chair, Verner Panton's Panton chair and many more. While this furniture now comes at a high price, there are several knockoffs in flea markets or better yet investing in one and making at an accent piece can do wonders for a room.

The style is an important part of the design. It helps to put together choices for color palettes, furniture, and materials. Because creativity is all around, new styles will continue to evolve and the matter of choosing one which is timeless will determine whether a style is here to stay for the years to come or be gone once the trend is over.

- Pile, John F. A history of interior design. Laurence King Publishing, 2005.

Related Article
- What is Transitional Interior Design and Its Furniture?

Last review and update: August 27, 2018

About the Author

Patty Benjabutr is an interior design enthusiast. She loves to write about actionable home decor knowledge because she believes interior design content is something much more than a collection of beautiful photos. You can contact Patty via e-mail.