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Interior design styles: What are their advantages and disadvantages

Whether you realize it or not, you probably have a preferred interior design style. Just as with clothing, there are certain designs, materials and colours we gravitate towards.

However, unlike clothing, your preference for particular design style might take a little longer to emerge. Unless you’ve won the lottery, chances are that when you first moved out of your family home you were in “beggars can’t be choosers” mode of accepting any piece of furniture that was decent looking and functional that crossed your path. That being said, as you flip longingly through magazines you’ll realize that you gravitate towards one style over another. But do you know which style that is? Below is a list of some of the more popular interior design styles today.

Contemporary, Modern and Minimalist: Three interior design styles with a common theme

Contemporary, Modern and Minimalist interior design styles have a lot in common such as clean lines, lower sitting furniture and emphasizing negative space. Some people find these styles to be cold and uncomfortable. However, if implemented properly, they can be comfortable and help small spaces appear larger. There are, however, distinct differences that define each style.

Contemporary

Includes clean lines, geometric shapes with little if any ornate work. Emphasizing space within a room is important. Furniture is low, upholstered in solid, evenly woven fabric in neutral colours. This style can also include was it popular today from “in” colours to furniture and technology. Twenty years in the future the current contemporary style may become “retro.”

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Modern

This interior design style was born from the Bauhaus movement, a school out of Germany founded in 1919. One of its primary principals was form follows function. This is one of the first design styles that fully integrated form and function. Clean lines are a central theme of this style. Colours are neutral, black and white. There are few accessories.

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Minimalist

This interior design style uses natural light to highlight spaces and shapes. Cool colours and cool white and blue lighting are primary items in this design style. Because the style focuses on including the bare minimum of furniture, hidden storage is key. Minimalist kitchens, for instance, will have cabinets that blend into the walls and hide functional items.

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Eclectic Interior Design Styles

The interior design styles below are not quite as concerned with emphasizing negative space but rather focus on the use of furniture, fabric, materials and colours to create distinctive looks which are radically different from one another, but suitable for the spaces they occupy.

American Arts and Crafts/American Craftsman

A common design style in western North America, it recalls the sensibility of the plain but beautiful shaker style furniture and houses. Although minimal in detail, it is distinguished from other styles with the use of oak and rectangular spindles incorporated into armchair arms and sofa frames. Furniture is a blend of exposed wood and upholstered cushions. Architecturally, peaked A-framed roofs are a common design feature of an Arts and Crafts style house. Frank Lloyd Wright is one of the most well-known architects who contributed to this interior design style.

Classic

This interior design style focuses on symmetry and building the decor on a focal point in the room. For instance, a fireplace flanked by two identical sofas or armchairs is a common use of the classic style. The colour palette is drawn from nature; soft hues of earth tones, blues, yellows, grays and pinks are common. Fabrics are elegant without being ornate, such as cotton, linen and velvet. Furniture is comfortable yet still elegant and will include showing off turned legs or using skirts to hide plain legs. Columns, relating back to classical Greek and Roman architecture, can be used as part of this style.

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Industrial or Urban

A newer trend that has flourished with the conversion of former factories in downtown areas into condos. This interior design style prefers the use of more industrial materials such as concrete for floors and walls, exposed beams or stripped floors, stainless steel and metal. Furniture materials include leather, reclaimed wood, stainless steel. The style emphasizes space, so furniture tends to be sparser and can feel cooler. Black, chrome and raw materials are dominant materials in this theme.

Retro

This style can draw from past decades with an updated feel. Within this category styles from art deco, arts and crafts eras are recreated with a more contemporary look. Eras such as the psychedelic sixties or Scandinavian Cool will be recreated to fit in with today’s looks. Depending on the era, fabrics, colour palettes and styles will differ according to the design style it is imitating. Done right, this style can recreate an older dated look with modern flare.

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Country

In and of itself the country interior design style encompasses many sub categories influenced by different cultures. French Country includes cotton and linen fabrics in hues of bright blues and yellows, terracotta floors, natural and light wood. English Country includes a variety of floral patterns, stripes and plaids. Light wood such as oak is also widely used. American Country emphasizes earth tones, rustic furniture sometimes mixed with red,white and blue and plenty of light pine. In these sub-categories, there is an abundance of fabric and the style can include larger, cozier furniture pieces, triple pleated, full length curtains and accessories to indicate a warm and welcoming environment. This style works best with more traditional architecture.

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Rococo or Opulent

This interior design style derives its characteristics from the days of palace living. Therefore common themes are opulent fabrics of silk, brocade and velvet. Gold painted plaster work contrasts with pastel walls either painted or in silk or silk like wallpaper. Furniture pieces are as ornate as the walls and often include curved arms, ovals and spirals. The dominant colours used are pink, gold, yellow, azure blue and cream. This style can be expensive to create because of the nature of the materials as well as the workmanship necessary for creating or refurbishing plaster work. It is not well-suited to smaller spaces as it can be overpowering.

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Of course, the above is just a guide of some of the most common types of design styles. We tend to love different elements from several different styles to create our own individual style such as Modern Country or Classic Retro. Which interior design style do you prefer?