Common Decorating Styles Explained

If you plan to do up your home or build a new one this year, part of the challenge involved is working out which type of decorating style to opt for.

With so many great options you can choose from and many different terms bandied about here and there, it pays to have a clear understanding of the critical types and what they offer.


Contemporary has been the design style of choice for many people for years and is all about clean lines and a modern look, as the name suggests. However, don’t assume that it must also focus on sleek, cool, stark spaces. In fact, there are numerous contemporary types, so you can find a balance that works for you between deliberate, classical choices and some elements of surprise.

Contemporary homes typically make good use of materials such as glass, stone, and metal, and many neutral hues. If you want to design in a contemporary way, use texture deliberately, and don’t choose things that feel too trendy.

Mid-Century Modern

Are you someone who adores the retro look? If so, a mid-century modern design aesthetic may be the perfect choice for you. This style refers to the period of design from around the mid-1930s through to the late 1960s, and it’s much more utilized today than you might think. Most furniture stores contain replica mid-century pieces, while accessories abound in fun retro colors such as bright oranges, reds, and greens.

Keep your style options streamlined and focused on form and function. Choose ceiling fansceiling fans, beds, sofas, and fixtures and fittings with clean lines and tables and chairs with sleek, tapered legs. Add plenty of bold color to this, and you’ll create a fun, playful vibe in your home.


Traditional is probably the most popular style, combining a timeless mix of beautiful and elegant elements. It’s about being comfortable and cozy but not cluttered, and you won’t get a stark room in a traditionally-designed abode. This style focuses on calm color palettes, well-defined and understated furniture with classic lines, orderly setups, and symmetry.

If you want to go down this decorating path, utilize wooden furniture, add or highlight crown moldings, and select framed prints, china vases, and matching pillows.

Shabby Chic

Shabby chic was a big hit in the mid-1980s and 1990s and screams laid-back Californian cool style like that showcased on many TV shows and in magazines and decorating books at the time. This aesthetic has its roots in vintage and antique French design stylings but adds some more soft, feminine elements and focuses on creating a lived-in feel.

Put your home together in a shabby chicshabby chic way by keeping to a light color palette, choosing white, overstuffed sofas and furniture made from distressed painted wood. Then, bling things up with ornate gilt adornments, such as gold French mirrors.


Another prevalent design choice these days is the modern farmhouse look. This kind of décor involves heavy use of wood, especially reclaimed materials and those salvaged from old buildings or other creations. Rustic country elements get an update here with a blend of minimal, industrial, and Scandinavian touches. Inhabitants and guests of homes enjoy the warm, inviting, relaxed, comfortable, and practical appeal of modern farmhouse decorating, which is particularly suitable for those with a growing family.

If you’re keen to opt for this feeling in your property, add plenty of country and barn details throughout the home and choose sliding barn doors and wide-plank wooden floors. Aim for a mix of high and low contrasts that create a pulled-together yet unpretentious vibe.

French Country

Anyone who dreams of taking more trips to the French countryside or moving there one day is likely to be a fan of the French Country decorating style. This option combines a mixture of farmhouse, shabby chic, and antique French elements to create a relaxed, grown-up look and feel that’s homely yet stately.

To design your home in this way, you could pair a minimalist-look coffee table with an era-less couch and some classic antique French chairs re-furbished with a modern print. Add to this an eclectic mix of artworks, and you’re set.

Other design styles worth investigating further and considering for your home include industrial, art deco, Scandinavian, coastal, Hamptons, and bohemian. Look into all the different elements of each to get a good idea of what kind of overall approach will suit your tastes and lifestyle needs the best.

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