Design TipsJuly 17, 2008

A Visual Dictionary of Decor Styles

I’ve had a lot of clients and friends ask me questions like “what exactly IS mid-century furniture?” or “what does “Hollywood Regency” mean?”– so I thought I’d compile a little visual dictionary of what each decor style looks like. There are many more styles than this, but I think these are the most popular right now. If there are any others you’d like help with, just leave a comment!

Traditional: Classic style, sometimes ornate detailing, but usually relatively clean lines. Think Bunny Williams and Ralph Lauren. Colors are typically rich- dark browns, greens, reds. Luxurious, heavy materials. Retailers with traditional decor: Restoration Hardware, Horchow.


Transitional: This style blends traditional with contemporary, creating a more laid back, casual look but with classic styling. It encompasses simple lines, no one defining “look” and styling that can be accommodated into any other type decor. Colors are typically neutrals, light sage greens, blues and whites. Stores with transitional furniture: Pottery Barn, William Sonoma Home.


Modern: Hard, straight lines, a graphic appearance, edgier materials and an overall sleek look. Obvious lack of ornate detailing. Retailers with modern furniture: Design Withing Reach, West Elm.

French Country: When I think of French Country, I think of toile! A mix of rustic antiques, feminine detailing and a warm, relaxed feel. Patterns like ginghams, checks, chintzy florals reign as do color combinations like yellow and blue. Retailers with French Country Decor: Pierre Deux, Kate Madison


Shabby Chic: A look that went from a brand name to a bonafide style, “created” by Rachel Ashwell. Lots of white, distressed wood, similar styling to French Country but with a whitewashed effect. Lots of floral patterns, crystal chandeliers, a vintage look to everything. Retailers with Shabby Chic decor: Shabby Chic, Shabby Chic for Target, eBay.


Mid-Century Modern: A style that has resurfaced with a vengeance. Designers from the 1950’s and 60’s such as Eames, Saarinen, van der Rohe, , George Nelson, Knoll and Bertoia. A look that exemplifies the time, when technology and out of the box thinking were rampant. My beloved Barcelona chair is a great example as is the omnipresent tulip table. Retailers with mid-century furniture: Modernica, Knoll, DWR.


Hollywood Regency: The look of glamorous old Hollywood brought back into popularity by super-designer Kelly Wearstler. Reflects the looks of Dorothy Draper- ornate, somewhat whimsical and very bold. Utilizes lots of wallpaper, metallic finishes, faux bamboo, vintage 70’s items with bright colors and patterns. Modern Glamour is the bible for this style. Retailers that carry Hollywood Regency Decor: Z Gallerie, eBay.



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