Monday, November 5, 2012

Decorating Styles Series kickoff

Decorating Styles 

    by Powell Brower Home   
When I was in the decorating business between 1990- 2002 the prevailing 4 decorating styles were Traditional, Contemporary, Country and Eclectic. Fairly simple and clear-cut.  Now there seems to be dozens of styles.  HGTV defines 18 different styles including Art Deco, Arts and Crafts, Asian, French, English Country, Shabby Chic, Moroccan, Tropical-to name a few. 

This is a bit complex for the lay person, so we will simply the characteristics in this series.  We feel a need to define the basic design styles today as a primer for our clients to help them decide on their own style.  

Real Simple names 4 current styles: Sophisticated Classic, Modern Graphic, Cozy Casual or Vintage Eclectic.  Sounds like categories a retail store invents to sell it's products. It's just not that easy to put yourself in one category, is it?  There are some basic premises that our tastes fall into.  Once we define those tastes, we can mix in some others.

Part 1: Traditional

This style encompasses design from all continents  based on heritage, antiques, and history.The most popular styles are British Colonial revival, 18th Century English, 19th Century Neoclassical, and French country. In a traditional room you will find these characteristics:
  • formal
  • symmetrical
  • matched sets of furniture
  • curvilinear lines,
  • rich fabrics, multi layers, patterns, florals
  • dark woods
  • vintage antiques
  • rolled arms, heavy padding
  • authentic antiques, historical accents
  • heavy window treatments
  • embellishments, trims, fringe
Have you heard the term New Traditionall?  This is an updated version of traditional, or transitional,characterized by more attention to comfort than formality, deeper seats in the sofas and chairs, mixing periods and finishes, using reproductions, media cabinets, updated rugs in place of orientals, lighter window treatments... Something like this for example:
Traditional Home magazine showcased ten NewTrad designers in their Spring 2012 issue.  Looking at their rooms you'd swear they were more contemporary; and that's exactly what "new traditional" is; a mix of traditional and more up to date styles. 

Is  your style  Traditional?
Stay tuned for Decorating Styles Part 2: Contemporary


Check out the entire series here:

Traditional Style
Contemporary Style
Country Style
Eclectic Style
Updating Any Style


  1. I love an eclectic mix of styles, which is a change from my life as a traditionalist. I add pieces I love now, which makes me happier with my design.
    These images are gorgeous. Definitely my base.
    Happy Monday.

  2. Hi Nancy,

    My personal style would probably fall into New Traditional, although I have occasionally introduced 'industrial' pieces into the mix and my aesthetic is heavily influenced by Scandinavian interiors. An interesting post!

  3. not sure what my style is. I'm all over the place and as you say, I'm a "frequent redecorator". I look forward to learning more through your series though. :)

  4. Great post, Nancy! My style is still evolving but I definitely can relate to new trad.

  5. What an informative post! I'm probably a new traditionalist--but it changes constantly as I rearrange a lot. I'll probably relate to Cozy and Vintage after you post pictures.

  6. I'd say I'm New Traditional today, but I change with the wind! I love the philosophy of buying what you love and it will work ~ it always seems to create an intersting eclectic mix.

  7. This series will be "fun"! I think I would surely be New Traditional or Transitional.

  8. PS.....I was involved with Traditional Homes' NewTrad issue for 2012...I was the blogger who submitted one of the winners, Melanie Turner. Her style is definitely Transitional/New Traditional!

    1. I saw you in there! so cool- congratulations Patty! She is one of my all time favorites!

  9. Cool series. I am mostly trad and new trad. We could probably fit a little mid-century into my life but that's another post that I am looking forward to.

  10. I have no idea what my style is! I'll have to wait for the rest of your series... :)

  11. Great post Nancy. I would say my style is always changing so I couldn't really pin point one group.

  12. I love Traditional pieces that are used in a fresh way, so I think that makes me New Traditional, but I also love a little vintage, chinoiserie, and hollywood regency in the mix. Does that make me something else now?

  13. Great idea for a series!

    My style is H.M.T. Hot Mess Trad.

    1. you are too cute...thanks for the chuckle!

  14. I have been M.I.A. For awhil Nancy, but I'm glad I found the time to read your blog. It is so true about what you said about confusing part, think I may e going towards more of the new traditional design. I thought my style was contemporary, but now, looking at your examples, I think I am more of this style! Oh well, can't wait to see the rest of the oth styles, I may end up MIXED type, since one room may be this and Another may be that! Have a nice day!

  15. Oh I loved this blog...I will really hunker down and read it tonight...when I'm in bed at 6:45 ha

  16. Great choices and ideas. I like this take on traditional style.

  17. I can never describe my style to other people, other than sort of casual; I like just about everything.

  18. I think I am a mutt…new traditional with a bit of cozy casual, vintage eclectic and modern!

  19. All of this is so interesting. I'm right there with Kim of Chattafabulous.

  20. I'm definitely on the traditional side! But lighter and fresher. And Swedish inspired, of course! :)


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