Transitional Interior Design Style – The Design Entrepreneur Style Guide

The transitional interior design style is a blending of traditional and contemporary styles. This style is often characterized by a combination of classic and modern elements, creating a sophisticated and timeless look.

This post is part of a Design Style Guide Series, where I teach you all about different design styles and how you can be inspired by them, and choose any of them to define your personal and brand style.

In this style guide, we discover:

  • what is considered a transitional style?
  • what are the elements of transitional interior design style?
  • what are the typical colors used in transitional interior design style?
  • what’s the difference between transitional and traditional interior design?
  • how to mix transitional style with other interior design styles?
  • lastly – would this be a great niche for your interior design firm?

Let’s talk about the transitional interior design style!

What is a transitional interior design?

Transitional design usually features clean lines, neutral colors, and simple, yet elegant furnishings. It often incorporates natural materials, such as wood, stone, and metal, and may use decorative accents, such as patterned rugs, pillows, or artwork, to add warmth and texture to the space.

Transitional Interior Design Style neutral color palette
Transitional Interior Design Style: neutral color palette

Transitional spaces also tend to be open and airy, with plenty of natural light and minimal clutter. This creates a calming and relaxing atmosphere, while also allowing for easy movement and flow throughout the space.

What does transitional mean in interior design?

In interior design, transitional style refers to a blend of traditional and contemporary styles. It is a versatile and timeless design approach that aims to create a cohesive and balanced look by combining classic and modern elements.

The transitional style is a popular choice for those who want to update their space but still maintain some traditional elements. It bridges the gap between traditional and contemporary design styles, offering a harmonious and comfortable look that is both classic and modern.

This design style is often used in homes, offices, and commercial spaces, and it works well with a wide range of budgets and design preferences. Overall, transitional style in interior design is about creating a timeless and balanced look that blends the best of both worlds – traditional and modern.

Transitional Interior Design examples
Transitional Interior Design examples. Jean Stoffer Design

What are the elements of transitional?

The elements of transitional design typically include:

Neutral color palette

Transitional spaces often feature a neutral color palette, with shades of beige, gray, and white. These colors create a calm and relaxed atmosphere and serve as a backdrop for other design elements.

A mixture of materials

The transitional design incorporates a mix of materials, such as wood, metal, glass, and stone, to create a balanced and visually interesting space.

Clean lines

Furniture and decor in transitional spaces typically feature clean lines, avoiding ornate details and excessive embellishments.

Comfortable furnishings

The transitional design emphasizes comfort and functionality, with comfortable seating options and soft textiles, such as linen or cotton.

A blend of traditional and modern styles

The transitional design blends traditional and modern elements to create a timeless, yet up-to-date look. This might include pairing a classic, upholstered sofa with a sleek, contemporary coffee table.

Textural elements

Textural elements, such as a plush area rug, decorative pillows, or textured wallpaper, add depth and dimension to a transitional space.

Simple and uncluttered

Transitional design favors simplicity and minimalism, with uncluttered surfaces and a focus on functionality.

What are transitional colors?

Transitional colors are typically neutral colors that bridge the gap between warm and cool tones, creating a harmonious and balanced color palette. These colors are often used in transitional design to create a soothing atmosphere.

Examples of transitional colors include:

  • Beige: Beige is a warm neutral color that works well with both cool and warm tones. It can create a cozy and inviting atmosphere while still feeling sophisticated and elegant.
  • Gray: Gray is a versatile neutral color that can range from cool to warm tones. It can add a sense of serenity and calmness to a space while still feeling modern and chic.
  • Ivory: Ivory is a warm and soft neutral color that can add a touch of warmth and brightness to a space. It pairs well with other warm and cool colors and can help create a serene and relaxing atmosphere.
  • Taupe: Taupe is a versatile neutral color that can have both warm and cool undertones. It adds a sense of sophistication and elegance to a space while still feeling understated and timeless.
  • Cream: Cream is a soft and warm neutral color that can create a cozy and inviting atmosphere. It pairs well with other warm colors and can help balance out cooler tones in a space.

Can you mix transitional and modern styles?

Yes, it’s possible to mix transitional and modern styles in interior design. In fact, this can be a great way to create a unique and personalized look that combines the best elements of both styles.

Transitional Interior Design Style
Transitional Interior Design Style: mixing modern with traditional design

To successfully blend transitional and modern styles, it’s important to find a balance between the two. For example, you might choose modern furniture with clean lines and simple shapes, but then soften the look with transitional elements like plush area rugs, textured fabrics, and decorative accessories.

Alternatively, you might start with a traditional or transitional foundation, such as a classic sofa or armchair, and then add modern accents, like sleek lighting fixtures or abstract art.

One key to successfully mixing transitional and modern styles is to keep the overall color scheme and materials consistent throughout the space. This helps to create a cohesive look that blends the two styles seamlessly.

Ultimately, the key to creating a successful blend of transitional and modern styles is to experiment and have fun. Mixing different design elements can result in a unique and personalized space that truly reflects your personality and style.

What is the difference between traditional and transitional styles?

Traditional style and transitional style are both popular interior design styles, but they have some key differences.

The transitional interior design style is a blend of traditional and contemporary styles. It combines the classic elements of traditional design with the clean lines and simplicity of contemporary design. Transitional design is characterized by neutral color palettes, simple and clean lines, and a mix of textures and materials, emphasizing comfort and functionality.

The traditional interior design, on the other hand, is a more classic and formal style. It is characterized by ornate details, rich colors, and luxurious fabrics. Traditional spaces typically feature dark, warm colors and a lot of decorative elements, such as chandeliers, ornate rugs, and heavy curtains. Furniture in the traditional style is often crafted from wood and features curved lines, carvings, and other decorative details.

While both styles incorporate elements of classic design, transitional design tends to be more relaxed and informal, while the traditional design is more formal and structured. The transitional design also tends to be more versatile and adaptable to different lifestyles and tastes, while the traditional design is often associated with a more traditional and conservative approach to interior design.

Overall, the main differences between traditional and transitional styles are their focus on ornate details and rich colors versus simplicity and functionality. While the traditional style creates a sense of opulence and grandeur, the transitional style creates a sense of understated elegance and comfort.

Examples of transitional style furniture, textiles, and accessories

Examples of transitional style furniture include upholstered sofas and armchairs with clean lines and neutral fabrics, sleek coffee tables and end tables with metal or glass accents, and wood dining tables with simple, classic designs.

Examples of transitional style textiles include linen or cotton drapes with subtle patterns, area rugs with neutral colors and textured weaves, and throw pillows with geometric designs and subtle fringe or tassel details. Overall, transitional style textiles are versatile and timeless, and they can work well in a variety of design styles and settings.

Examples of transitional style window treatments include Roman shades in neutral colors with classic folds or pleats, sheer or textured drapes in neutral colors with clean lines, and simple wooden blinds or shutters with clean lines and a modern design. Overall, transitional style window treatments are versatile and timeless, and they can work well in a variety of design styles and settings.

Examples of transitional style window treatments include roman shades in neutral colors with classic folds or pleats, sheer or textured drapes in neutral colors with clean lines, and simple wooden blinds or shutters with clean lines and a modern design.
Examples of transitional-style window treatments include Roman shades.

Examples of transitional style accessories include simple, clean-lined lamps with neutral shades, modern mirrors with classic frames, wooden or metal trays with simple designs, and glass or ceramic vases with minimalist shapes. Overall, transitional style accessories are versatile and timeless, and they can work well in a variety of design styles and settings.

Which famous interior designers specialize in transitional style?

Many interior designers specialize in the transitional style, as it is a popular and versatile design approach that is widely used in both residential and commercial spaces. Here are a few interior designers who are known for their expertise in transitional style:

Candice Olson: Candice Olson is a Canadian interior designer who is known for her classic yet modern approach to design. She often uses transitional styles to create comfortable and inviting spaces that are both functional and stylish.

Candice Olson
Candice Olson Design

Nate Berkus: Nate Berkus is an American interior designer who is known for his eclectic and timeless design style. He often uses transitional elements to create a warm and inviting atmosphere in his projects.

Nate Berkus via AD
Nate Berkus via AD

Kelly Hoppen: Kelly Hoppen is a British interior designer who is known for her luxurious and sophisticated design style. She often uses transitional elements to create a harmonious and balanced look in her projects.

Kelly Hoppen
Kelly Hoppen

Jeffrey Bilhuber: Jeffrey Bilhuber is an American interior designer who is known for his classic and elegant design style. He often uses transitional elements to create a modern twist on traditional design.

Thom Filicia: Thom Filicia is an American interior designer who is known for his bold and eclectic design style. He often uses transitional elements to create a balanced and cohesive look in his projects.

Thom Filicia
Thom Filicia

Is this a great niche for your interior design firm?

The transitional style is a popular and versatile design approach that is widely used in both residential and commercial spaces. As such, specializing in transitional style can be a great niche for an interior design firm. By focusing on this particular style, you can develop a strong expertise in it and offer tailored services to clients who are looking to update their space with a blend of traditional and modern elements.

Overall, specializing in transitional style can be a great niche for an interior design firm, if there are enough clients who appreciate this style. If not, then you could consider mixing it with other styles, to create your signature style, alternatively, launch an international firm by selling decor.

Transitional interior design style definition

The transitional style emphasizes simplicity, functionality, and comfort, while also incorporating some decorative elements and details. It is a popular choice for those who want to update their space but still maintain some traditional elements. Overall, transitional style in interior design is about creating a timeless and balanced look that blends the best of both worlds – traditional and modern.


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