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Interior Design Styles

Updated: 2019-01-06

Having knowledge of interior design styles is helpful when decorating a home because knowing the fundamental design principles will help you make design choices with less trial and error. This article provides an overview of interior design styles, the art styles that influenced them, and an interior design quiz to help find your style.

Art styles vs. interior design styles

Soho

Most interior design styles were influenced by art styles. To truly understand interior design style, it is important to know about the art styles and movements that influenced them. 

Art movements

Collectively, the term art movement is given to artworks that share the same artistic style, ideals, timeframe, or technical approach. There are no hard and fast rules here about what constitutes an art movement. Grouping artists of a certain period or style helps to understand them within a specific context. Modern art movements are the 20th-century development when a greater variety of styles erupted than at any other period in the history of art.

The more you appreciate and understand the different art styles, eras, techniques, and movements, the better you are able to identify and understand your likes and dislikes, your preferences, and which art style choices would work best in your home.

Following is a brief timeline containing 11 art styles that influenced interior design:

The 1870s – 1880s Impressionism

An impromptu Plein-air style of landscape painting, Impressionism strives for the exact representation of natural light effects. Porto Venere View is a wonderful example of this art movement.Draper

1880s Neo-Impressionism

Based on the optical painting technique called Pointillism, Neo-Impressionism mixes colors before they’re applied to the canvas, primary-colors are placed directly onto the canvas -- arranged in groups of tiny dabs or dots -- to allow the viewer's eye to do the "mixing".

1880 – 1920 Arts and Crafts

Widely popular in Western Europe and North America, the Arts and Craft movement served as a reaction and renunciation of the industrial revolution. Arts and Crafts style emphasized simple forms and a traditional craftsmanship that harkened back to the guilds. 

1890 – 1914 Art Nouveau

Art Nouveau is a highly decorative style characterized by intricate flowing patterns of sinuous asymmetrical lines, based on plant-forms. Leaf and tendril motifs are popular designs, Natures Imprint tryptic offers a compelling example.

The 1880s - 1990s Post Impressionism

Post Impressionism incorporates many styles of painting, some with a rigorous classical approach to Plein-air painting; indoor studio painting; or painting outdoors not to capture nature but to express inner emotions.

1905 onwards Expressionism

Expressionism aims to portray an interpretation of a scene rather than simply replicate its true-life features. Stormy Sea I and II are beautiful examples.

1908 - 1914 Cubism

Cubism refocused attention on the essential 2-D nature of the flat canvas, overturning conventional systems of perspective and ways of perceiving form, in the process. See Mid Century Collage I, II and III.

1885 onwards Photography

Photography grew more important than ever in this era of modern art. Some of this modern art movement's photographic genres developed include street photography, documentary photography, and fashion photography. Fine examples of organic subjects include X-Ray Leaves, Agave Detail, Logging, Approaching Spring, Frosty Pasture, and Within the Forest.

1912 onwards Collage Art

Collage art can involve objects trouvés, like bits of paper, photographs, fabric, and other 'found' items to create a mixed-media effect. Witnessing Glory and Mid-Century Collage tryptic are favorites.

1925-1940 Art Deco

Art Deco replaced Art Nouveau’s flowing curvilinear shapes with dramatic and inspired geometric forms. Art Deco features lacquered and mirrored surfaces, sunburst and chevron decorative pieces and a bold color palette. 

1958-1970 Pop-Art

Pop-Art and expressionist abstract styles combine inspiration, creative techniques, and philosophy from popular and commercial culture. These unusual sources can encompass film, advertising, product-packaging, pop music and comic strips reflecting the mass consumerism of America in the 1960s. Using bold, easy to recognize imagery, and Maxwellvibrant block colors prove good art can be low-brow and made of anything. Dramatic Lemon and Dramatic Orange give a subtle nod to this style.

The 1960s to today Minimalism

The modern art movement known as Minimalism is known for its extreme simplicity of form and is generally composed of precise, hard-edged, geometric forms, with rigid planes of color in cool hues or sometimes just one. Vertices and Silver Sculpture Wall Hanging represent this movement, Nature’s Imprint is a softer take on minimalism altogether. If you believe, "less is more," then you are some of the few minimalists left on this earth. Embrace open spaces and clean, subtle furniture, and you'll feel like your home is where you can feel at peace with both yourself and one another.

Interior design styles

Looking for a new look for the interior design of your home? There are plenty to choose from, some familiar and some you may not recognize. Learn the defining characteristics of the top 12 interior design styles, and see which one strikes your fancy. You may find a new favorite. 

5 primary interior design styles

Design styles can help express your personal preferences and creativity. Below are five broad types of interior design styles. Most of the more specific interior design styles incorporate at least some of the characteristics from these primary styles. 

  • Traditional interior design: With gracious dark furnishings of carved wood, paired accessories, understated stripes, and small patterns, traditional style evokes a feeling of order and calm. 
  • Rustic interior design: Relaxed and comfortable, rustic style evokes an earthy tone through its use of techniques and materials that bring out the natural characteristics of furniture. 
  • Modern interior design: With form following function, modern homes are elegant in their simplicity, using straight lines and combining various media to get an elegant look without requiring too much ornamentation. This is one of the newer interior design styles to appear in recent history but has already taken the interior design world by storm. Inspired by art deco, the modern style blurs the line between art and functional design. If you are interested in modern style, check out this article on modern bedroom design
  • Contemporary interior design: Contemporary design is characterized by the use of clean texture and an emphasis on space, with lines that are emphasized, yet rounded and not severe. 
  • Eclectic interior design: Often combining rounded and sharp angles and natural and synthetic materials, eclectic style borrows from any number of other design styles and uses color, texture, and patterns to unify them. 

9 more specific interior design styles

Articulating each style's defining elements can help you to fully comprehend just what you are looking for as you scan an array of design photos. Here are brief descriptions of a dozen popular interior design styles

  • American Colonial: Feeling presidential? Recognized for its use of geometry, there's nothing like the cozy American colonial style. By furnishing with predominantly dark finished wood, this interior design style unites homey with diplomacy. 
  • Asian-inspired rooms are clutter-free and heavily reliant on natural elements such as water, simple plants, bamboo, and stone. Asian homes feature a neutral color palette, room dividers, and decorative wall panels. 
  • Coastal style takes inspiration from the beach. Nautical themes and seascape colors highlight this style. If you are interested in coastal interior design, check out this guide on beach house decor
  • Mid-Century Modern boasts clean and simple designs, straight lines and minimalist decor. Black, white, cream and grey are common colors.  
  • Country style is relaxed and comfortable with natural fibers in gingham, stripes, and florals, wood or stone floors, and a muted color palette. 
  • English Country mixes overstuffed chairs with ornamental carved wood furniture, collections of small accessories and rich, eclectic colors. 
  • French Provincial combines rustic and elegant elements with country accents from 17th- and 18th-century royalty. Curving, carved wood furniture and natural, floral and toile upholstery abound. 
  • Mediterranean homes often include stucco or plaster walls, marble or terra cotta tile floors and ceilings with exposed wooden beams. Yellow, olive green, reds and cobalt blue dominate the color scheme.  
  • Shabby Chic Are you the outdoorsy type who wears your heart on your sleeve? If so, you might be interested in the shabby chic style sleeper sofa. Originating from 1980s England, shabby chic combines worn, vintage shapes with neutral colors and interesting textures (usually in white). 

Furniture styles

So how are interior design styles any different than furniture styles? While the characteristics of the styles are often similar, the difference between interior design style and furniture style is a matter of scope. The aesthetic qualities and functional philosophy of an interior design style is wider than furniture, extending its reach to the functionality of living spaces (which also includes furniture). For more information on furniture design, check out this article on furniture styles. 

Interior design quiz

Sometimes it's not easy to easily describe what your style is, as you may have never thought about it too hard or you may have a mix of various design styles. If you're curious, grab a pen and paper and answer these ten questions to see which design style speaks to your soul. The results of this interior design should give you and idea of which of the primary interior design styles you tend to favor.  

Question #1: What's your favorite color?
find your interior design style pink

A. Pink

find your interior design style black

B. Black

find your interior design style orange

C. Orange

find your interior design style white

D. Silver

find your interior design style red

E. Red

find your interior design style dark blue

F. Blue

 

Question #2: What's your favorite animal?
find your interior design style cat

A. Cat

find your interior design style snake

B. Snake

find your interior design style deer

C. Deer

find your interior design style shark

D. Shark

find your interior design style rooster

E. Rooster

find your interior design style sloth

F. Sloth

 

Question #3: Which setting suits you best?
find your interior design style beach

A. Beach

find your interior design style city

B. City

find your interior design style castle

C. Castle

find your interior design style ocean

D. Ocean

find your interior design style farm

E. Farm

find your interior design style future

F. The future

 

Question #4: Which is your favorite room in your house?
find your interior design style backyard

A. Backyard

find your interior design style living room

B. Living Room

find your interior design style study

C. Study



find your interior design style bedroom

D. Bedroom



find your interior design style farm

E. Kitchen


find your interior design style future

F. Dining Room

 

Question #5: What is your favorite dessert?
find your interior design style gelato

A. Gelato

find your interior design style tiramisu

B. Tiramisu

find your interior design style coconut cake

C. Coconut Cake

find your interior design style chocolate mousse

D. Chocolate Mousse

find your interior design style popcicle

E. Popsicle

find your interior design style churros

F. Churros

 

Question #6: Which pillow reflects your personality best?
find your interior design style Botanique Floral Blue Pillow

A. Botanique Floral Blue Pillow

find your interior design style Estate Black Pillow

B. Estate Black Pillow

find your interior design style Lola Navy Paisley Pillow

C. Lola Navy Paisley Pillow

find your interior design style Oliver Pillow Steel Blue

D. Oliver Pillow Steel Blue

find your interior design style Red Beige Cotton Pillow

E. Red Beige Cotton Pillow

find your interior design style Davinia Dk Blue Multi Pillow

F. Davinia Dark Blue Pillow

 

Question #7: What's your breakfast of choice?
find your interior design style french toast

A. French toast

find your interior design style eggs benedict

B. Eggs Benedict

find your interior design style cereal

C. Cereal

find your interior design style blueberry pancakes

D. Blueberry Pancakes

find your interior design style chicken and waffles

E. Chicken & Waffles

find your interior design style doughnuts

F. Doughnuts

 

Question #8: What's your favorite punctuation mark?
find your interior design style exclamation point

A. Exclamation point

find your interior design style colon

B. Colon

find your interior design style question mark

C. Question Mark

find your interior design style period

D. Period

find your interior design style comma

E. Comma

find your interior design style semicolon

F. Semicolon

 

Question #9: Which wall art would you buy for your dining room?
find your interior design style Summer Solitude

A. Summer Solitude

find your interior design style Building Blocks

B. Building Blocks

find your interior design style Dramatic Lemon

C. Dramatic Lemon

find your interior design style Kinetic Circles B

D. Kinetic Circles B

find your interior design style Vintage Seed Pack III

E. Vintage Seed Pack III

find your interior design style Surround I

F. Surround I

 

Question #10: What's your drink of choice?
find your interior design style margarita

A. Margarita

find your interior design style dirty martini

B. Dirty martini

find your interior design style wine

C. Wine

find your interior design style gin and tonic

D. Gin & tonic

find your interior design style beer

E. Beer

find your interior design style scotch neat

F. Scotch neat

What's my style?

Now that you've taken the quiz, check out your stylistic leanings below. Remember, the results of this quiz are definite, as most people have a mix of tastes. 

If you answered mostly Bs... Modern!

When you've set a goal, you're not afraid to do whatever is necessary to achieve it. Sleek and elegant, the modern style breaks the mold of everything you've known about furniture and reshapes them into functional works of art. Your house rides a fine line between home and museum.

If you answered mostly Cs... Traditional!

You appreciate all things timeless and classy. Traditional furniture oozes confidence with elegant and ornate detailing. This style pays homage to its furniture ancestors. Your house is marked by colors that can be enhanced with bronze accents and warm brown tones, usually light wood and other comforting colors. 

If you answered mostly Ds... Contemporary!

Attention to the little details are important. and that's reflected in how your home is decorated. Contemporary design embraces open spaces and simple designs to allow conversation and interactions to flow more naturally. 

If you answered mostly Es... Rustic!

Nothing pleases you more than waking up at the crack of dawn and starting your day the way humans were supposed to. Whether you're in an apartment or house, introducing wooden or log-structured furniture into your home can bring warmth and peace to any room.

If you answered mostly Fs...Electic!

Walking to the beat of your own drum, you have an artistic vision. Eclectic interior design includes a mix of styles that blend materials, shapes, and even functionality in a way that is often uniquely original. 

 We are the style experts

Whatever the design of your home, Bassett Furniture has the furniture and accessories you need to make your house a home. Browse our vast selections of high-quality furniture crafted with the same uncompromising standards Bassett Furniture has used for over 100 years.  

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