How to Furnish Your Home
Popular Decorating Styles
Buying Furniture
What to Look for in Buying Wood Furniture
Types of Wood
What to Look for in Buying Upholstered Furniture
Furniture Buying Blunders To Avoid

Popular Decorating Styles

This is a very basic description of some decorating style terms that are popular today. While this is a very short list we hope you will find it helpful.

Art Deco. This term comes from the designs of the 1920's, 30's and early 40's. Lines were elegant, streamlined and angular. Vibrant colors were predominant. Neon, chrome and other metal furnishings, bakelite plastics and inlayed furniture were popular for the Art Deco period.

  • Classical. Reminiscent of ancient Greece, the Classical style uses pillars and columns in both interior and furniture designs. Mahogany wood, with brass inlays, marble table tops, tapestries and crystal chandeliers will be wonderful accents here.
  • Contemporary. This is a style in which patterns are bold and bright, while using a lightly colored background. Use neutral coloring for walls and furniture, but add bright splashes of color in accessories. Good colors to include are fushia, deep purple and teals. Abstracts and vinyl will compliment a Contemporary decor.
  • Country. While country is a rather general term, it actually depicts a class of pieces a little more refined than primitive. Such as antique cotton quilts, Hoosier cupboards, stoneware bowls, enamelware and wooden dovetailed boxes. Wood and cotton fabrics seem to prevail in Country decorating.
  • Cottage Country. This style features an interesting variety of pastel colors such as mauves, pinks, pale greens, peaches and blues in floral or fruit patterned fabrics. Painted wicker and most definitely cottage type flowers and herbs add to this style. The term, Cottage, probably came from people that had large homes in the city, and traveled to their small country cottages for summer. Because these homes were usually located near water, some nautical items should also be present in the decor, such as shells and stones. Lightly covered windows, using gauzy fabrics will bring a Cottage Country feel.
  • French Country decor features yellows, blues, rooster collections and tiles on the floor and walls. When French Country is applied to interior design it generally means a mix between elegant and rustic. Elements which constitute this style include faded or whitewashed wood, blue, pink and yellow small prints, also flowered fabrics and sunflowers in a drip ware pitcher.
  • Eclectic. This is the style that most people use. It is a combination of many styles. Just choose your favorite pieces to combine into a style all your own.
  • Mediterranean style uses colors such as terracotta, warm yellows and other earth tones. Distressed wood finishes and simple patterns of furniture best suit this style. Blue and gold accents will really set the Mediterranean style off. Accent pieces should include pottery and aquatic pieces.
  • Modern is futurist looking and uses concrete, stone, metal and glass. High tech comes to mind when thinking of this type of decor. Modern includes lots of open space, bright lighting, and square lines. The main colors are basic and cool, with splashes of bright colors. Abstract artwork will combine well with this decor as well as hand blown glass pieces.
  • Oriental. Most oriental decor is sparsely furnished with dark wooden pieces standing out against light walls. Simplicity, balance and practicality are the words most used when describing Oriental decor. There is a colorful array of accessories that can be used to compliment including, of course, beautiful oriental rugs, jade, ivory, coral and onyx pieces, elephants and dragons, silk kimono, fans, teak and lacquered wooden pieces, delicate tea sets and silk prints.
  • Primitive is described as belonging to or characteristic of an early stage of development, crude and rudimentary. Items in this category would include old wooden hay rakes, antique handmade rag dolls and any other handcrafted antique items. This is a style where present owners feel a connection to the loving hands who originally crafted the piece and for other hands that may have used it. These things are not perfect or uniform, they are worn or stained.
  • Rustic. This is the log cabin type decor. Made from tree branches and trunks, rustic furniture is very popular. Red, green and black should be displayed in plaids with this look. When one thinks of rustic, think of bear skin rugs, antique snow shoes hanging on the wall, as well as other old woodsman tools and oil lamps. When decorating in a Rustic style, think cabin in the woods.
  • Shabby Chic has been popular since the mid 1990’s. Shabby Chic is all about finding new and interesting ways to use "old" items. For instance, a stack of suitcases might become a side table. Salvaged doors might be put together to form a stylish room divider, perhaps with mirrors added for interest. There is no one furniture style in Shabby Chic design. The common denominator is old, interesting, and comfortable. Armoires are popular, but often are unused in non-traditional ways, such as for a bar, a linen closet, or an entertainment center. Shabby Chic furniture should complement each other in style, color or line, but it doesn't have to match. In fact, it shouldn't match too closely or look like it was created together. Shabby Chic is a work in progress, not a pre-fabricated look.
  • Southwestern. Think desert when describing this style. Adobe, leather, bold colors such as orange, burgundy, purple, bright turquoise are all elements of Southwestern. Rustic furniture will mix well with this style. Be sure to include silver items, lassoes, cactus and maybe even a saddle.
  • Spanish style is best conveyed with stuccoed walls, bold colors such as red, orange and gold, heavy dark colored furniture and the use of wrought iron accessories. Other accent pieces include guitars, castanets, lace, Spanish hair combs, Bolero hats and Spanish blankets.
  • Traditional. This style has classic elegance, created by using light, natural colors such as, gray, off white and beige together with dark blues, greens and burgundy. Florals, stripes, plaids and damasks are noted fabrics. With this style you’ll see crystal candlesticks, china, framed landscapes and other more elegant pieces.
  • Tuscan-style features a rustic, sun-baked look characterized by crumbling stone patios, simple and sturdy furnishings. You can incorporate Tuscan-style into your home with elegant iron accents, terra-cotta tiles and textured wall finishes and detailed murals. The color palette should lean heavily on earthy, unpretentious hues evocative of a Tuscan hillside.
  • Victorian is characterized by rich brocades and velvets, both in furniture, walls and window dressings. Mauves, burgundies, rich blues and greens, along with lace and fringe compliment Victorian furnishings. Porcelain dolls, wicker, old high button shoes, hats and hat boxes, buttons and dried flowers are wonderful accent pieces to a Victorian decor.
  • Whimsical—Light and Fanciful is carried out with bright colors and unusual patterns such as pink spotted fish or a wooden chair painted in several different colors and with several different patterns. Most would consider Mary Engelbreit’s designs whimsical. Her use of different colors and different patterns on one piece are definitely whimsical and full of imagination.