Popular Home Design Styles Explained

Trying to figure out what style of home design you want? Since most homes today combine different styles, it’s helpful to understand the difference between each style so you can communicate the look and feel you want to achieve.

The Chronology of Home Design Styles

Most interior design styles are defined by the different periods that the styles emerged from. As outlined here we will explain what Traditional, Victoria, Mid-Century Modern, Industrial and Contemporary styles are. Since Transitional style describes a blend of styles rather than a specific era, we have also taken the time to explain that separately.

  • Traditional

    1700s to 1800s

  • Victorian

    mid 1800s to early 1900s

  • Mid-Century Modern

    1940s to 1970s

  • Industrial

    late 2000s

  • Contemporary

    current (not a specific era)

1. Traditional

Traditional design refers to one that is influenced by 18th and 19th century European décor. You’ll often find that Traditional homes are symmetrical and orderly and carry a sense of sophistication. They have neutral colored walls and rich hardwood floors.

Traditional style is great for having antiques and regal furniture with prominent curves. Wingback chairs and claw-footed tables are not uncommon.

Key Elements

  • Classic European style
  • Symmetrical architecture
  • Ornate details
  • Elegant furnishings
Traditional style kitchenIn a traditional style kitchen, you may find use of more elaborate countertop edge profiles, as seen in this photo. Click on the photo for more information on countertops.

2. Victorian

The Victorian home is inspired by styles that popped up between the early to mid 1800s to early 1900s. As an indicator of status, these homes are often furnished with excessive and elaborate details and accessories.

Victorian home designs are asymmetrical in shape, with a lot of decorative trim, and textured walls. The colors are warm and soft, while deep, dark hues are reserved for areas of importance, such as the master bedroom. Gold is frequently used to give a luxurious feel.

An iconic example of Victorian houses is Painted Ladies, the row of homes in San Francisco, California.

Key Elements

  • Asymmetrical architecture
  • Elaborate details
  • Textured walls
  • Excessively furnished

3. Mid-Century Modern

Mid-Century Modern design refers to the styles that emerged post-war, between 1940s and 1970s. It focuses on simplicity, using bare elements and natural curves to highlight function and open space.

These homes have large windows, furniture with clean lines and décor that is modern or geometric. Mid-Century designs don’t shy from using bold and loud colors.

Key Elements

  • Focus on simplicity and function
  • Furnishings have clean, natural curves
  • Geometric décor
  • Use of bold colors
Mid-Century Modern
Mid-Century Modern style homeIf you want a more contemporary take on the Mid-Century Modern style, don’t use clashing bold colors. Balance it out with neutral colors. Renovate your home with large windows to let light in and put the spotlight on your open space.
Yoakum Home RemodelA lot of new homes today are influenced by Mid-Century Modern styles. In the Yoakum home, you can find a lot of geometric patterns and curves throughout.

4. Industrial

Trending since the late 2000s, Industrial style came about from converting industrial spaces into lofts and restaurants. It is characterized by exposed brick, steel beams, lighting fixtures, concrete, and use of raw materials like wood. The unfinished industrial feel is commonly achieved with grays, neutrals and rustic colors.

Key Elements

  • Converted warehouse/industrial feel
  • Exposed brick, steel beams or pipes
  • Use of grays, neutral and rustic colors
  • Concrete floors

5. Contemporary

Not to be confused with Modern design, which refers to a style in the 1950s, Contemporary design simply refers to whatever is current, or trending.

The new Honest Company office at Playa Vista is a great example of contemporary design.

Here you can see bold use of black on the window sections, dining chairs, and cabinets. It is balanced with bright walls and neutral tones of wood. The exposed pipe-lined ceilings give it a hint of raw, industrial feel as well.

2018 Trends

  • Simple shapes
  • Metal furniture
  • Vintage light fixtures and accessories
  • Use of rich, bold colors
  • Darker and mixed finishes


For kitchen trends, read our article on 6 Kitchen Cabinetry Trends.

Transitional style home design

Traditional furniture can be upholstered with modern style fabrics for a Transitional look.

6. Transitional

Transitional home design is a marriage of traditional and modern styles. When combined in a cohesive way, the result can be comfortable and timeless. With Transitional designs, it is common to use neutral colors to emphasize the lines of the furniture.

Ideas for going Transitional

  • Pair your traditional cabinets with contemporary light fixtures
  • Upholster your traditional furniture with modern fabrics, or modern furniture with traditional fabrics
  • Use a mix of natural and manufactured materials
  • Use neutral colors

Hopefully this helped you understand the difference between the home design styles. Now you can transform your Traditional or Mid-Century Modern home and make it more Transitional and Contemporary!

Get in touch with our remodelling experts to discuss your project.

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