A Glossary of Design Styles


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Only one in five Americans is happy with their home design. If you aren’t in that 20% then now might be the perfect time for you to reimagine your interior design scheme. But with all the interior decorating shows, magazines and blogs it can be difficult to know where to start.
If you find yourself overwhelmed by the numerous options at your disposal, you can always spend some time exploring some of the many popular design styles.
We?ve compiled a glossary of these styles, defining them in the simplest terms possible to help you start to get a feel for what these terms mean.
One warning before you go any further. It can be tempting to think of these styles as strict instructions on how to decorate your home. As hard as it might be, you should fight that temptation. These styles are simple templates, invented to help you understand how certain a design features complement each other. Barrow and steal from these templates only when and if they work for you and your space.

Mid Century Modern

This retro-chic style was popularized by the rise of TV show Mad Men and is still hanging around all these years later. This minimalist approach to style is all about clean lines, bold color splashes, and wood accents. Mid Century Modern furniture often mixes wooden frames with deep color fabric.
Must Haves:
Eye catching table lamps; bold patterned area carpets; geometrical accent chair; shag carpet

Shabby Chic

Shabby Chic replicates the comfort and charm of a well-loved cottage with rustic furniture, worn looking materials, and eclectic touches. The most important thing is to balance the distressed, worn items with warm colors and careful arrangement.
Must Haves:
Vintage knick-knacks; mismatched throw pillows; distressed wood


Industrial is the favored style of chic loft dwellers and urban hipsters. The defining feature of industrial modern furniture and design is the contrast between wood and metal, natural and man made. Earth tones, coppers, and grey dominate the industrial style, as does the contrast between organic shapes and sharp lines.
Must Haves:
Chesterfield Sofas; exposed beams or piping; concrete floors and table


More minimal than Mid Century, more contrasting that Industrial, Scandinavian is the current darling of the design world. Dominated by strict lines and a monochromatic color scheme, this style is all about by playful textures, and injecting a bit of whimsy into typically utilitarian items. Most modern fortitude today has a hint of Scandinavian sensibility in it.
Must Have:
Folding Chairs; a single accent piece, often a rug or painting; white painted wooden floors; modern pendant lamp

While these are some of the most popular styles around today, modern furniture can range the spectrum. While these templates can help start exploring the basics of style, don?t be afraid of defining your own style.