Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Interior Decor Tips: A Quick Guide to Styles

Studying various interior design styles can be helpful in developing your own style perspective. The approaches to interior design are diverse, but there are some widely accepted methods to interior planning and decor that are consistent enough to be classified as specific design styles.


Clean-lined is often how contemporary interior design is described, and for good reason. This modern approach focuses first and foremost on function and avoids the excessive ornamentation evident in many other styles.

Black, whites and other neutral tones tend to dominate the contemporary style scene, but you can leverage well-planned, accent features and accessories to provide dramatic punches of color. Large blocks of color placed against a neutral background can firmly establish a contemporary feel.

Sleek lines are very important in this style. Choose clean-lined, modern furnishings and accessories. Avoid furniture with curved legs, for example, which suggests a more traditional style.

Texture is a very important element in contemporary interior design style. It provides the perfect complement to the sleek, smooth surfaces of wood, metal and glass that tend to dominate this setting. A modern vase filled with coarse twigs, for example, can provide visual relief to the smooth surfaces around it. Additionally, a natural fiber, jute area rug with woven blocks of color can add a textural element to a smooth floor.

A contemporary interior works best with complementary architecture. This would be a great style for an urban or industrial loft, but might seem out of place in a Victorian mansion, for example. Think about context.


The shapes in this style setting are typically very graceful. Curving lines are very common. Furniture is often constructed of dark wood and finely crafted detail.

Traditional lighting fixtures of metal, glass or porcelain with elegant shades look wonderful in the traditional home. Look for fixtures with a curvaceous silhouette. If you want to add a touch of glamor to your traditional space, a beautiful chandelier is a good choice.

A wide range of options are available in traditional fabric. Floral prints, tone-on-tone stripes and textural patterns can be found in a variety of materials from damask to cotton. Your choice of fabrics should largely depend on context and the degree of formality or informality you want to project.

Important architectural detail in traditional interior design style includes fine moldings. Adding decorative features, like crown molding and chair railing, is a great way to anchor the style.

Color can be used to help establish the level of formality. Deeper wall colors, like deep red or green hues, suggest a higher level of formality. Lighter colors and neutrals, on the other hand, can infuse a more contemporary feel to the style. Think about how you want the space to function and feel when deciding which direction to go with color. Choose something you love.

Antiques or antique reproductions work well in a traditional setting because they reference the past.

Consider adding a few contemporary styled items for a more up-to-date look. For example, try a contemporary, unframed work of art above the fireplace mantel in a coordinating color scheme to the rest of the room. A more contemporary piece can enliven a traditional space to stunning effect.


The Asian interior design style has largely been influenced by Chinese and Japanese culture. If your life is hectic and you've been wishing for an interior style that promotes serenity, this Oriental approach may be the one for you. The Asian style carries a strong emphasis on peace and order.

Chinese interior design tends to be very graphic and opulent in its expression. Japanese style interior design has more of a minimalist, restrained nature.

Wood and bamboo are the natural choice of materials used with Asian interior design style. Use softer colors like off white, stone, parchment and mellow gray for a Japanese style effect. Use jewel tones of ruby, gold, sapphire and emerald along with ebony (black) if you want to emphasize Chinese style. Wall treatments are typically plain colored in a Japanese styled space. On the other hand, for a Chinese approach try some large, painted panels with elaborate scenes from nature or Chinese cultural history.

Floors look best finished with wood, cork or bamboo products. Ceramic or stone tiling is also a option. Choosing a area rug made of natural materials like sisal and coir works well in an Asian inspired environment.

Consider Japanese style interior design especially if your space is surrounded by contemporary architecture. Its minimalist approach is a perfect compliment.

Inject an oriental feel into your space by incorporating a lacquered wooden screen that displays a flamboyant Chinese design. Or choose a beautiful Shoji screen for a more streamlined Asian atmosphere.

Windows are often left plain in an Asian interior. However, if privacy is a concern, consider a simple roll-up blind of natural material like bamboo, for example.


A primary element in classical style is the use of a focal point around which visual balance is achieved. A grand, marble fireplace flanked on either side by matching, gilded light sconces and crowned with an elaborate, gold framed mirror would be good example of classical balance. Imagine if the arrangement were split down the middle, one half of the arrangement would essentially be a copy of the other half.

The color palette common to classical interior design style takes it cue from the empire periods of history where color choices were often inspired by nature. Consider various yellows, blues, greens, browns as well as softer, muted hues like terracottas, grays and pinks. Adding some ebony (black) accenting within a well-planned design scheme can enhance the classical feel.

The use of classical ornamentation can additionally serve to anchor a room in the classical style. Common classical motifs (reoccurring images) include Roman and Greek inspired columns, busts and urns. Obelisks and other Egyptian inspired design elements might also be used.

Fabrics used in classical interior design style tend to be elegant but reserved - quiet strength in a very ordered space. Cotton, canvas and velvet are some common examples. If you want to punch it up a bit, try some less reserved options like silk or taffeta.

Natural flooring of wood, stone or marble works best in the classically styled environment.

When accenting with whites, choose off-white if you want to stay in keeping with a more authentic classical color palette. Choose bright white if you want a slightly more contemporary feel instead.


Country interior design is all about lived-in comfort. The emphasis is on natural materials, handcrafted features and time-worn charm.

Your color palette can vary widely, but country decorating gets inspiration from the surrounding landscape. That's why you often will see color schemes centered on greens, reds, blues, beige and white to name a few.

The materials and textures you use are key to anchoring this style. Tactile surfaces of wood, wicker weaving, wrought iron, stone, pottery, tin and other natural or earthy materials work well and provide great visual texture as well.

Floral or checked fabric made of simple materials, like cotton and linen, compliment a casual, country style. You can go with more sophisticated silk and damask if you are creating a more refined, "cottage" variation of this style.

Consider soft, fresh colors for your country inspired home. The overall look should bring to mind the long traditions of living in the countryside. Whatever variation of country interior design you choose to create, always remember the end result should look soft and built up over time.

Incorporate antique furniture or hand-crafted decorative accessories throughout the scheme.

Natural floors (like wood) work best. Area rugs can be used, but leave some parts of the floor exposed. Wall to wall carpet is not ideal because it doesn’t have that built up, layered look.

Mix floral patterns with checks and stripes for upholstery and fabrics. Don't try to make everything match precisely.


The Art Deco movement was prominent in the first half of the twentieth century, especially between the two world wars. It had a significant impact on many aspects of art and culture including architecture and interior design. Art Deco combines some design elements from ancient cultures with a modernist, Machine Age look.

Art Deco interior design features elements that are very streamlined, geometric and often even curvaceous. In the sample room shown here, a combination of rectilinear and rounded shapes make up the scene. Stainless steel and glass are important elements in Art Deco interior design. Be sure to include them in your design scheme.

When it comes to a color palette, Art Deco style is fairly versatile. For a more classic look try a color palette centered on black, whites, browns or tans. To put a more contemporary twist on this style, go with a bolder color scheme.

Feature some very streamlined furnishings with a Burlwood style finish – maybe a coffee table, side table or entertainment center for example. Inlaid wood is an element of the Art Deco look.

Accessorize with curvaceous forms.


When you think of Gothic style some images that come to mind might be stone castles, soaring cathedrals featuring intricate architectural detail, tall, arched windows and stained glass. Maybe your mind even pictured the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris.

You can incorporate elements of it to establish a clear link to Gothic style while still allowing your space to function in way appropriate to your lifestyle. You can inject a Gothic feel in your interior through a combination of furnishings, fabric choices and visual motifs for example.

Choose fairly heavy, wood furniture pieces with intricate details to serve as end or side tables and other display areas. A Gothic inspired dining room might feature a solid, carved wood table, for example, with wood chairs featuring upholstered seats. The chair backs might include an engraved or cut-through quatrefoil design - a four leaf clover shape popular in the Middle Ages.

A heavy weight fabric, like velvet, for window draperies can lend support to your Gothic theme. Choose drapery rods with finials in the shape of a fleur de lis or trefoil for added emphasis. Don’t forget the benefit of using wall tapestries. They are a sure fire way to help build a distinctly Gothic look.

And lighting? Look for something eye catching like a chandelier, for example. Try a rustic style made of metal that exhibits a pointed arch design – a common form in the Gothic period. A traditional, brass, candelabra chandelier can work with a softer Gothic look when more distinct lighting options can’t be found.

Add a fireplace screen or some window cornices with a pointed arch shape to evoke the architecture of the Middle Ages.

Incorporate some stained glass accents or accessories.


One way to develop a tropical scheme is to think about what it is that you would expect to experience in a tropical location. Are you getting images of sand, beautiful ocean views, lush foliage? Maybe you’re feeling the soft ocean breeze brush your face. Let these images and sensations guide you in the creation of your space.

For a backdrop consider a neutral color scheme. You can add stronger touches of accent color, like citrus hues for example, to punch it up and round it out. Walls painted in a sandy beige color or white can a good choice to evoke the beach or breaking waves. Blue or green hues could also be a good choice, bringing to mind the sky or sea. The goal here is to establish a light and airy feeling.

Texture and wood play a huge role in a tropical interior design scheme. Woven elements like rattan and wicker furniture work great. Teak and bamboo features lend a very tropical vibe as well. As an alternative to painted walls consider grasscloth wallpaper for an exotic, textural feel.

When you choose fabrics go with natural fibers such as cotton, linen and silk. Use gauze fabric on windows or draped over a four post bed, for example. It enhances the easy, breezy atmosphere.

Palm plants and tropical flowers, like orchids for example, will further enhance your tropical interior design and inject a touch of lush foliage. Accessories featuring coral, shells – anything that evokes a tropical location – can help round out the look.

If you want to go the extra mile, add some wood beams in intervals across your ceiling. Or cover your ceiling completely with wood slats to inject an exotic, architectural element into your tropical interior design scheme.

Wood or tiled floors look best in a tropical interior. Use a natural fiber area rug such as sisal to anchor your space elements.

Enhance your space with tropical flare. Consider a pair of pineapple shaped table lamp with fluted shades for accent lighting. Commandeer a flat-topped trunk for use as a coffee table.

Create a breeze with a tropically inspired fan overhead. A ceiling fan with woven panels or panels in the shape of banana tree leaves looks perfect!


Rustic interior design emphasizes unrefined, natural elements that together look and feel quite cozy. This style is particularly suited to rural, woodland regions because it takes its inspiration from the untamed landscape.

Pine wood is a big plus because it often features knots and imperfections which lend themselves nicely to an unrefined appearance.

Consider incorporating reclaimed barn wood in some way. One option is to use it for flooring. Its rough quality has a quintessential rustic look and feel.

Mountain stone is an excellent choice for a fireplace or an accent wall in a rustic interior. Its rough quality will provide excellent visual texture to your space. Stone tiles work great for flooring. Consider it as an alternative to wood planks.

Punched tin lampshades and just about any non-shiny metal décor items add an old time touch to a rustic environment – particularly if they look hand-crafted. And don’t forget the antique, metal collectibles. They look quite at home in a rustic environment.

When it comes to a color palette consider an earth tone scheme. Browns, tans, greens and rusty reds look great in a rustic interior design scheme. If you want to add some brighter color, consider doing it with accessory items.

Fabrics and upholstery should reflect a simpler model as well. What you really want is a basic, natural material like cotton for example.

A woven accent blanket exhibiting a southwestern motif or a striped pillow reminiscent of a trendy ski lodge could be used to nice effect depending on how you want to position your look. Plaid is another option. And don’t forget the effectiveness of hand-made candles to give your rustic style the perfect aura.

Construct a rustic bed headboard with medium sized, white birch logs arranged in a vertical format.

Create a functional side table made from a section of tree trunk.


Tuscan interior design evokes the sun-kissed fields and vineyards of Italy. It’s a warm, old world look that makes you feel instantly at home.

The inclusion of natural elements plays a key role in this old world interior style. A stone fireplace or accent feature can provide a perfect focal point.

Hardwood or stone tile covered floors complement the Tuscan look. Using wood beams overhead further establishes the atmosphere.

What is the color palette of Tuscany? Think luscious vineyards, golden grain fields, rich olive groves and ancient stone walls. Golden crèmes, browns, olive green tones and wine hues are always good choices to evoke the sunny pastoral surroundings.

Wrought iron and other scrolled metals are key ingredients in a successful Tuscan interior design. Look for tables and chairs of decorative metal construction or perhaps a romantic bed frame of elaborate wrought iron. You can impart this style element by your choice of wall décor and lighting fixtures as well.

Consider rounding out your Tuscan interior design style with decorative items that reference an old world past. Displaying a decorative Roman column or bust, for example, can be a great choice.

An arched mirror or a collection of arched wall art is an excellent choice as well. The arch shape is a common feature in Tuscan architecture. Using arches within your décor is a great way to reinforce the Tuscan theme.

Bring the sunny fields of Tuscany inside through the use of fresh flower and fruit displays. An alternative to fresh flowers might be a collection of dried flowers in muted colors for an old world look.

For a new twist on the style, try incorporating a group of black and white or sepia-toned photography in your wall decor. The classic appearance of the photos will connect to the rest of the space, but arranged on the wall in a quadrant or geometric pattern, the collection will have a more up-to-date and refreshing effect.


Swedish interior design style is characterized by a look that is light, airy and elegant. Whether classic in emphasis, country or contemporary in direction, this style underscores an elegant and refreshing atmosphere.

Despite originating centuries ago, the Swedish Gustavian style is a look that is still popular today. It usually features white painted, neo-classical furnishings – often displaying the patina of age – set against a very light, interior background.

If you are going for the Swedish interior look I have one word for you – white! Okay, maybe not literally everything white – that might get pretty boring. But keeping the supporting hues light is really important. Very soft blues, grays and greens are typical of this style, but the overall finished look should be very light and airy.

For a Gustavian inspired interior, choose white painted furniture that features a classic silhouette. Time worn or distressed edges will further emphasize the look and is a very desirable attribute. Wall moldings and furniture with raised detail will add greater visual interest in this largely white environment.

A touch of gold gilding is important as an accent. Hints of it can be brought in through the raised details of furnishings and by your choice of lighting elements, picture and mirror framing, for example.

Your walls and trim should be painted white (or a very soft gray, blue or green). Alternately, you might choose a wallpaper pattern. If you go with wallpaper, consider a neo-classic style with a very open and subdued pattern in soft colors on a white background. A common Swedish design motif is floral swags with ribbons and bows.

If you have attractive window moldings you might not want to use draperies at all but perhaps opt for simple sheers or fabric blinds like inside-mounted roman shades. If you choose draperies instead, try something that doesn't not contrast too sharply with the light colored walls. Your window treatments should complement the subtle yet sophisticated overall effect.

Consider natural fabrics for your Swedish interior design style. Linen, cotton and silk are some possibilities.

Finally, add a bit of bling to your look in the form of crystal lighting. This could be a classic, crystal chandelier (it’s been said that every Gustavian interior has one) or similar wall sconces, for example. The crystals will reflect the light in the airy space and be the crown jewel of your inspired Swedish interior design.

Soft blue and white is a common Swedish color scheme. Consider accenting your interior with classic, blue and white porcelain pieces.

Round out your look with that distinctive piece of Swedish furniture – a painted, curvaceous, floor clock.

Source: www.interior-design-tutor.net