Styles of Home Decor: A History of Popular Design Schemes

Maybe you just left the nest and you aren’t sure which stylistic direction to take when picking out your first set of furniture. Maybe you want to do away with your eclectic decor and accents so you can finally get some cohesion in your home. Even if you’re just interested in taking a crash course in interior design history, you’ve come to the right place. I’ll walk you through styles of home decor that hearken back to yesteryear, are fit for today’s suburban homes, and can only belong in the world of tomorrow.

Traditional style home decorTraditional

While some may find the traditional style outdated or boring, it doesn’t have to be. The traditional style is all about appreciating your roots while finding comfort in the here and now. Because traditional decor takes inspiration from the past, including designers’ use of vintage furnishings and familiar fabrics, there’s nothing in a traditionally-styled home that will really take you out of your comfort zone—but that’s often a welcome quality, not a turn-off.

You can embrace tradition without being bland or stale. Freshening up accents like curtains, throw pillows, and decorative rugs every few months can help to breathe life into your home without costing you an arm and a leg or sacrificing your theme. Balance and symmetry are important in traditional styles of home decor, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have wiggle room.


  • Say “no” to sharp angles and edges—embrace soft curves
  • Invest in cozy furniture
  • Stay mindful of symmetry with furniture and smaller decor placement
  • Stay conservative with colors—pair neutrals with light pops of color
  • Wood furnishings are a great touch
  • Go for pretty patterns, such as florals

Transisional style home decorTransitional

Transitional styles of home decor are perfect for those who still have an affinity for aspects of the traditional style, yet are ready to try something new. As long as your various pieces of decor work harmoniously with each other, you can even go beyond a balance of the traditional and the contemporary to try out other styles you may be curious about.


  • Neutrals rule the stage—if you need a hint of color, stick to a few well-chosen accents
  • Embrace textures and layering
  • Keep patterns understated
  • Update traditional furniture
  • Less is more

Contemporary style home decorContemporary

Not all of us are ready to take on more contemporary styles of home decor, but you shouldn’t be afraid to embrace the moment. Technically, the contemporary style is supposed to reflect current tastes, but it still looks a little further in the future.

Contemporary style is about smooth profiles, sparse accessories, and the beauty of open space. In a room free from clutter, the few accents you do have on display will have a much larger impact on the tone of the room—make it count!


  • Use simple lines and geometric shapes in your style
  • Supplement neutral colors with a quiet undertone—if you want a bright pop of color, keep it to a minimum (a piece of furniture or an accent wall)
  • For flooring, use sleek surfaces, like ceramic tiles
  • Embrace glossy surfaces
  • Furniture should be striking
  • Work in wall art—big, overscale canvases

For a look at more styles of home decor, check out what I’m Currently Crushing!

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