When I sit down with a new client who is starting the process of creating a dream home, one of the first questions I ask is, “What kind of style excites you?”
More often than not, the answer sounds something like, “Well…some elements of traditional design are too formal and stoic for my taste, but hard-line contemporary is too cold and uncomfortable, so…I’m probably somewhere in between…” Sound familiar?
Transitional style, sometimes labeled “eclectic,” has taken a front-row seat in the interior design community in recent years. The truth is, transitional borrows from both traditional and contemporary but stands as a style category all on its own. To appreciate the beauty of transitional style, one must first understand traditional and contemporary design elements.
Trademarks of traditional interior design reflect classic European decor.
The lines and silhouettes of the furnishings feature wingback chairs, curved, sumptuous sofas with soft accent pillows. Elegant fabric curtains in damask, floral and bold patterns are also common. Dark, rich, warm wood tones, antique pieces (authentic or recreated) and elaborate use of accessories are all often integrated into this style. Heavy architectural embellishments such as elaborate moldings, beveled wood paneling, rich colors, and intricate tile and wood floor patterns with oriental rugs come to mind. Each room looks luxurious and comfy.
Contemporary design is an about-face and is seen as the opposite end of the traditional design spectrum.
You might love contemporary if your mantra is less is more, you are drawn to abstract art and heavy curtains make you claustrophobic. With contemporary design, furniture pieces feature clean lines and smooth surfaces without carvings or adornments. Silhouettes are slim and not overstuffed. Light colored woods such as maple, glass, and brushed nickel or chrome are used. Fabrics are natural, such as linen wool, cotton and silk. Bold color and geometric pattern might be seen on rugs, pillows or throws. Rooms are airy and expansive, and lighting is abundant. Every piece counts.
If neither of these styles alone excite you, how do you master the mix of transitional design?
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking anything goes. It’s definitely not that easy. In fact, transitional design is one of the most difficult styles to pull off successfully. Without careful thought, you could end up with an eclectic mess, not a mix.
When I approach transitional design in a room, I think yin and yang. Opposite or contrary styles can actually be complementary, but equal parts of each style will not work. This helps guide me through the selection process.
Here are some guidelines:
- Pick the dominant style, traditional or contemporary.
- Use subtle repositions by selecting a curve, line or shape that appears in the favorite piece you will use in the room. Then, find other pieces that mimic the
- Arrange furniture to allow the mix of both styles in the same grouping. For example, contemporary sofas with a more traditional coffee table or a traditional silk rug placed under a contemporary furniture grouping.
- Mix fabric styles and combine textures, like using contemporary fabric on a traditional chair.
- Balance your accent color throughout. Be consistent, and use it sparingly.
- Place accessories asymmetrically and group them together in an interesting manner. Limit the number of accessories.
- Mix up lighting. Try a contemporary chandelier with a traditional dining room table.
- Use less-structured drapery treatments with clean simple lines. Use light, airy textiles, keeping the fabric simple and fine in texture, such as silk, cotton or linen.
- Be c Weave the same style throughout the home. Avoid setting different themes in each room.
- Keep it simple. Remember, less is more. Start with the essentials, and then add and take away until it feels right for you.
- Have fun. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Move furniture around, play with accessories and experiment with different samples of paint. This is your personal style. Find your personal balance of yin and yang, and let your space reflect it.
If you are drawn to the warmth and elegance of traditional design combined with the stunning contrast of clean contemporary lines and rich textures, then visit our Jeffrey Wilde Model Home in Oakmont. You will experience firsthand the relaxed, comfortable, family friendly style of beautiful transitional design.
A rustic white oak plank trestle table is paired with contemporary seating in linen and velvet.
Abstract contemporary art is placed above a turquoise antique reproduction buffet. A linear antique bronze and glass chandelier provides transitional lighting below a lighted two-tier recessed ceiling with traditional crown molding.
Traditional charcoal gray architectural wall moldings and coffered ceilings are balanced with contemporary seating and abstract artwork. Textural use of fabrics includes linen, chenille and suede.
Raised panel white cabinets with carrera marble counters and floors combined with heavy use of crown molding are classic traditional design elements. Pairing this with contemporary cabinet pulls, contemporary lighting, mirrors and seating allows for a more transitional design.
A bold, traditional floral wall covering is paired with contemporary chrome sconce lighting, contemporary mirror and a sleek vessel sink.
Traditional white raised panel cabinets are paired with clean line contemporary pulls and contemporary linear natural stone backsplash. Contemporary glass pendants hang from beautiful traditional coffered ceilings.
Note: Paint palettes used throughout the home are neutral and calm