Lauren NowackiUPDATED: May 23, 2023
Home decor can be tricky. While it’s meant to reflect your personality and sense of style, it also needs to meet the demands of your daily life.
With so many different home decor styles, it can be hard to pick the right look for your abode. And without proper guidance, you can easily lose direction, creating a look that is disjointed, underwhelming or, dare we say, tacky.
Decorating your home doesn’t have to be daunting. And you don’t need to have an eye for design to be able to pull off a sophisticated, expertly styled living space. We researched some of the current interior design trends and spoke to a few industry professionals to get the best tips for decorating your space in some of today’s most popular home decor styles.
One of the most difficult home decor styles to define is contemporary. That’s because it adapts to the style of “today,” so what is considered contemporary now may not be contemporary a year from now. This fluid design style blends influences from late 20thcentury design styles with elements from the here and now.
And because it draws from current trends, contemporary is ever-changing. A little more extensive than other popular home decor styles, contemporary style maintains its own set of characteristics that distinguish it from others.
Contemporary style uses a neutral color palette that includes shades of brown, beige, white and gray and relies on accent rugs, pillows and artwork to bring light pops of color and texture to the room in a natural way.
Choose neutral colors and comfortable furniture with clean lines, soft edges and no embellishment. Larger furniture like couches and beds should sit low to the ground, while chairs and tables remain at normal height and showcase thin, sturdy legs.
Use natural upholstery fabrics, like cotton, leather or linen, in one solid color or an understated pattern. Introduce color and texture through pillows, rugs, drapes or throws and use lighting fixtures to either showcase artwork or make a statement.
When it comes to modern design, one word comes to mind: sleek. Unlike the softened, round lines of contemporary design, modern decor features stark lines. This “no frills” style creates a simple, uncluttered space void of any furnishing that doesn’t serve a practical purpose.
The style employs a neutral base color, often using monochromatic schemes, which are various tints and shades of one color. Geometric shapes and reflective materials like glass, stainless steel and chrome are staples in modern style.
However, unpainted wood, natural fibers and perfect circles or ovals may be used to disrupt the pristine design.
Focus on simple colors, geometric shapes and shine. Outfit your room with a glass coffee table and lightweight furniture that has a rectangular silhouette. Use streamlined accent pieces that feature unique architecture or metallic finishes, but keep accessories to a minimum.
Most importantly, avoid cluttering up your space with picture frames, books or other impractical items. Instead, choose up to three decorative pieces, like a small marble bowl, potted succulent or brass taper candle holder.
True to its name, mid-century modern describes the home decor style that was popular in the middle of the 20thcentury – the late-30s to the mid-60s – and is highly reflective of what was going on in this era. German architects and designers were migrating to the U.S., bringing the Bauhaus influence to American design, and with the war behind them, Americans were ready to embrace new and modern ideas.
The space race created a fascination with the future, and designers experimented with new materials and shapes to compliment that allure. Houses were generally small, so the furniture had to be functional, even multipurpose.
This style uses similar elements of the broader, modern style. You’ll see clean lines, geometric shapes and natural materials like leather and wood. But what’s unique about this design is the new materials it introduces, like plexiglass, bent plywood and tubular steel that creates an aesthetic that is very distinct.
It can be easy to go overboard with this design or make it look outdated, so start slow. When it comes to furniture, introduce one or two pieces and build around them. Know what makes this home decor style stand out, and bring in a few colors or pieces with those features.
You don’t have to rummage through thrift stores and spend hundreds of dollars on authentic pieces to get this look. This is a popular style right now, so there are a number of manufacturers creating replicas of the most popular, distinct pieces.
“Mid-century modern can be defined by low rising furniture on straight or angled, tapered legs,” says Erin Fausel, lifestyle blogger at American Freight Furniture & Mattress. “Furniture in this category comes in walnut and oak wood finishes and an array of pastel and earth tone upholstery shades.”
Colors are also key. “Green, orange, and mustard yellow are popular colors associated with mid-century modern,” says Fausel. Since these bold colors are not ones to stand in the background, be mindful of using them too much. Instead, find one statement piece in that color or use it on an accent wall.
For more inspiration, check out the furniture on “Mad Men,” a TV show set in 1960s New York or, even better, the decor on “The Jetsons,” a 1962 cartoon about a futuristic family living in 2062.
“Minimal style in home decor consists of large, clutter-free, open space that is full of light and has minimal representation of furniture and details,” explains Marty Basher, home improvement, renovation and organization expert for Modular Closets. “Empty space is seen as a crucial element in minimalist decor since it works together with other objects to form the look of the room.”
Simply put, when it comes to minimalist home decor, less is more.
The most important thing to do to make your space more minimal is to get rid of any unnecessary items.
“Clutter does not have a place in this style. Only the essentials should be displayed on shelves and tables,” suggests Basher. “Keep everything organized by ensuring that each item in the room has its place.”
And when it comes to decorative elements like art, Basher recommends using them sparingly. “If you are displaying art, choose one piece as a focal point rather than a series of small art pieces that could become a distraction,” he says.
Having a focal point is key when it comes to minimalist style, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be done with art. As Basher explains, “Having a focal point, perhaps a white sofa as the single piece of furniture in a large space, stresses the importance of visual balance in this style.
When choosing the right furniture to make a statement or fill the room, Fausel suggests focusing on shape instead of color.
“Minimalist pieces tend to feature thin and simple frames in one or two colors at most. Upholstered furniture tends to come in light or neutral shades with minimal or no pattern,” she says. “Additionally, minimalist pieces tend to make a statement with creative shape instead of color choice.”
Farmhouse style is inviting, relaxed and full of character. Showcasing American charm, this home decor style balances new and old and steers away from matching furniture and strategic staging.
It focuses on function and practicality, featuring low-maintenance fabrics and a collection of sturdy family-style furniture mixed with weathered wood tables and stainless-steel appliances. It’s typical to see things like exposed wood beams, butcher block counters, mismatched seating and vintage-inspired pieces.
It may take some time to get the farmhouse look just right since it’s most authentic when it’s filled with items collected over time. Check out your local thrift store to find the majority of your accent pieces.
Keep things more muted and conservative when it comes to color. Use classic colors like gray, beige, navy and sage and choose durable, low maintenance fabrics like cotton and linen. Pair large, cozy furniture with distressed wood tables.
If you have a dining room table in the room, mix wooden chairs with benches or metal stools. Finish the look with a bouquet of fresh flowers from the market.
Rustic home decor pulls inspiration from a number of different styles – most prominently, farmhouse – but has its own defining characteristics. Rugged, natural beauty is at its core, and the style employs raw elements from nature. Expect to see wood and stone in their purest form paired with dulled or rusted metal.
Natural flaws are embraced, and straight, stark lines are avoided. Furniture is heavier and more masculine, and it may be handmade. Floral touches and softer fabrics can add a feminine touch to the room to keep it all balanced.
Just like farmhouse decor, you want to avoid being too matchy-matchy and instead curate a mix of different furniture and textures. Use a color palette of greens, browns and greys and incorporate handcrafted pieces like mason jar candle holders, weathered metal signs and floating shelves made from repurposed wood.
Opposite of the minimalist idea of “less is more,” the Bohemian style takes a “more is more” approach. This eclectic style features a combination of various colors, materials and furnishings from around the globe. It’s a popular style for those who live a more unconventional life and want to make their home truly their own.
Bohemian uses layers of fabrics in silk, cotton, burlap and sisal with an abundance of bright colors and such detailed patterns as flowers, tribal prints and patchwork. Culture and nature are big components in this style, and that is seen throughout the design.
Family treasures are proudly displayed next to handmade objects, houseplants, crystals and worldly items from recent travels. Each item in the room has a story to tell.
The bohemian style is full of vitality and culture with no set rules to follow. While that seems great, it can be daunting to create a look without any guidance. Luckily, there are some special features present in most boho rooms.
Use earthy hues of green and brown to serve as the base color, and accent them with metallics and jewel tones. Create an inviting place to hang out for a while by laying out floor pillows and filling the room with plush couches and wicker chairs. Decorate with tapestries, fringe pillows and macramé panels.
Top it off by sprinkling in a few of your favorite travel mementos, candles, family heirlooms and green plants.
If you prefer simplicity and comfort, Scandinavian may be your go-to home decor style. Originating in the Nordic countries, this style creates a serene living space with basic, airy colors, like soft whites, grays and browns, and touches of subtle pastels like mint green, pale blue and light pink.
“The cool climate and often gray skies during the long winter months have a direct influence on Nordic interior design,” explains Dawn Totty, owner and interior designer at Dawn D. Totty Designs. “Light and bright interiors create an uplifting and serene living environment.”
Scandinavian style falls under the modern design family and shares some of the same characteristics, using the same lines, functionalism and natural materials. What sets this home decor style apart from other modern designs is the comfort it exudes even as it remains fresh and uncluttered.
To get the look, stick with light, clean colors and neutral shades. Furniture should have a modern influence, but with soft edges. Keep accessories to a minimum, using only a couple of knitted throw blankets or, as Totty suggests, textiles made from wool, sheepskin and mohair. To add some character, utilize little pops of color.
“Scandinavian decor and design is traditionally quite simple and a bit sparse,” says Totty. “Mixing it up with a bit of color in a pillow or two can bring a little personality into the space.”
You can also add vitality and a little bit of green to the room with a few houseplants like rubber plants, ferns and snake plants.
Lighting is important, and natural light is best. If you must use window treatments, Totty suggests choosing ones that are made from lightweight or sheer fabrics to allow as much natural sunlight as possible.
One of the most popular home decor styles, the traditional look is classic and predictable. Unlike farmhouse, rustic and bohemian styles, matching furniture and uniformity is encouraged in the traditional style. Furniture is often bought in sets and upholstered with plaid, striped, floral or plain fabrics.
Crown molding is frequently used, and accessories like lamps, books and framed pictures usually come in pairs. Everything is symmetrical.
Traditional style shouldn’t come with surprises. Instead, everything should look like it goes together. Think of the typical showroom floor at a furniture store. In fact, many furniture manufacturers create room sets that include matching couches, chairs and tables. Even if you purchase items apart, they should have the same color scheme, shape and feel.
Nothing should stand out; instead, everything blends together. Remember, symmetry is key, so you may want to buy things like lights, framed artwork and end tables in pairs.
If you love some parts of the traditional or contemporary styles but not other parts, a transitional style may be up your alley. That’s because it allows you to blend a traditional look with contemporary elements.
“To me transitional design has the best of the old world and the new combined, and that's as good as it gets,” says Totty. “Transitional design has an overall neutral backdrop with layers of color, textiles, shapes and design influences. In general, less is best. Over accessorizing will clutter the space and lend itself to a more maximalist decor approach.”
Since transitional is all about combining different influences, Totty recommends blending different mediums. “Sisal area rugs, upholstered furniture, a glass table or two and simple, yet elegant window treatments are fine examples of a well-curated transitional space,” she suggests.
You don’t have to live by the water to bask in the sophisticated, beachy vibes of coastal style. This design uses warm colors and sun-bleached whites and borrows hues from the ocean to tie it all together.
Just like a day at the beach, a coastal room features ample amounts of sunlight. This is accomplished through skylights and big windows with minimal window treatments. The style uses more natural textiles made from plants like seagrass and jute, along with durable fabrics like linen.
The prominent color here is white with touches of blue, beige and light greys. Pair linen-covered furniture with wicker chairs and add a straw or seagrass rug.
This design can easily become too kitschy if you aren’t mindful of your accent pieces, so remember, coastal does not mean flip-flop signs, palm trees or anchors – which are of the nautical aesthetic. Instead, you’ll want to add subtle seaside touches, like beach glass votives, pieces of driftwood or coral, and baskets made of jute.
Industrial design has gained popularity in recent years – especially in cities, where old factories are turned into lofts, office spaces and restaurants. A little bit gritty but totally chic, the industrial look strips a room of its updated surface and showcases its skeletal elements. Exposed brick and ductwork are common, as are wood, metal and leather materials that feature such imperfections as stains and scratches.
This look also features no-nonsense furniture and accents that are typically crafted from items rescued from the junkyard.
When it comes to industrial style, one man’s trash truly is another man’s treasure, as this design perfects the art of salvaging. Repurposing is at the heart of this style, so don’t be afraid to use cinderblocks as end tables, wooden crates as storage bins and old lockers as armoires.
You can find many of these inexpensive items at salvage yards, thrift stores and garage sales. Of course, no industrial-styled room is complete without Edison bulbs, the lighting staple of this decor option.
The glam style is all about luxury, glamour and shine. Think old Hollywood meets the art deco vibe from the roaring 20s.
The style remains refined by first using neutral colors on main features like walls, rugs and window fixtures. Then, it layers on the decadence through accessories.
What makes this style stand out is elements of shine, like gold candlestick holders, sequin pillows and mirrored furniture – a glam staple. To equal out the glitz and glitter, add in soft touches like tufted furniture and plush fabrics.
When it comes to glam, it’s all about balance. Use decadence sparingly to keep a sophisticated aesthetic. To prevent the room from looking gaudy, use a neutral color palette on your walls and furniture then play up the pizzazz on smaller pieces.
Hang a crystal chandelier over a tufted couch made of rich velvet and toss some sequined pillows or a faux-fur throw on your bed. Bring in metal finishes with gold sconces, mercury glass vases and silver frames, and don’t forget to add a mirrored console table.
The most important part of decorating your home is making it your own. You have to live there after all. To choose the right style, ask yourself a few questions.
Whatever home decor style you choose, make sure it doesn’t take away from your comfort and, most importantly, your unique personality.
What is your favorite home decor style? How do you pull it off in your home? Let us know in the comments.