Transitional Interior Design Style

As an interior designer, I encounter clients who heavily prefer traditional designs. However, some people like a blend of modernity. Some may wonder whether that’s possible and how to achieve it. This is where the transitional interior design style comes in.

The Transitional Interior Design Style

The essence of this style is multilayered and dates back many decades. It’s a combination of the population’s evolving tastes. Familiarity, comfort, and sleekness can form one cohesive style through it.Wooden dining table set with low hanging light fixtures and large indoor plants

Definition of the Style

This style design is a blend of modern and traditional elements. It brings together pieces from various themes to create one timeless style. Through it, one can enjoy plenty of comfort and antiquity with minimalism. It’s a way of bringing beautiful contradictions into space.

There are many ways to bring transitional design vibes into a room. Some opt for emphasizing this through texture. Others may do so through the furniture choices themselves. The most important thing here is to portray the balance. It is a mixing between the old and new. This is a heavily artistic design without many rules.

History of the Style

The modern way of designing homes started in the ’40s and ’50s. The idea of transitional furniture and homes took off shortly after. It was a way to combine the sleek new designs with the comfort of old. 

Since then, this theme has been irreplaceable in many homes. Many designers widely apply it, and it remains a trend. I frequently walk into homes and even hotels that use this blended design.

Until now, many people have understandably had differing preferences between modern and traditional aesthetics. Transitional design is a style that ties it all together.

Five Key Components of Transitional Styles

It can be challenging to identify such a multifaceted style. Designing this type of space doesn’t come with many limits or rules. 

However, we’ll find a few things in almost every space of this design. Below is a list of essential characteristics of these kinds of spaces.Living room with two different colored sofas with double glass coffee tables

Neutral Color Palette

Transitional spaces emphasize comfort and serenity. Along with that, it’s a theme where balancing different elements is essential. 

This means keeping colors neutral is essential as well. With soothing, neutral hues, it’s easy for the eyes to flow from one element to another. Some popular shades for this themed space are as follows:

  • Vanilla colors
  • Brown and beige shades
  • Pale blues
  • Monochromatic colors (black, white, etc.)

Layered Texture, Items, and Fabrics

When colors lay low, textures must come to shine. It balances the amount of things going on in sight. We can execute this through dense patterns on furniture. Textured metallic frames and ornate designs on tables also work. Abstract paintings that still fit the palette are another usual method.

Through texture, designers can enhance the life of the room. It balances the dampening ability of the cozy colors. Items that pop into the eyes and textures that keep interest play a significant role here. At the same time, it’s integral to keep things from being too stuffy.

Comfortable and Interesting Furnishings

The transitional style prioritizes comfort. It utilizes neutral, textured fabrics for optimal relaxation while maintaining visual interest. It offers a delicate balance of relaxation and interest. Below is a list of elements to achieve this.

  • Frames made naturally take a forefront. Ones of wood, stone, granite, and glass, to list a few.
  • Neutral-colored and high-performing fabrics
  • Corduroy, suede, and hide options

Practicality and Functionality

Transitional furniture should be decent and practical. It keeps in line with organic modern themes. Several pieces may focus on ornate details. 

However, function over form is of the essence. We will often see a mix of simplicity and detailed design in these types of spaces. It highlights the soul of the design. This is a balance of practicality and style.Living room with large gray sofa, wooden accents and fireplace

Minimal Accessories

The transitional style retains the modern motto of less is more. Meaningful items and selectively picked decorations will hit the spot for this style. Having each detail tell a story is the best approach. A few ways to execute it are below:

  • Subtle potted decorations
  • Meaningful photographs in neutral frames
  • Subtle statement rugs for visual interest

Popping Colors and Focal Points

Adding statement pieces with this design is one of the best strategies for enhancing a room. It’s a technique I often see in homes, hotels, and commercial spaces. Also, it’s one of the best ways, along with color accents, to attract eyes in a small or large space.

For instance, a room could be leaning slightly more toward modern design. A great way to add cohesiveness would be to add traditional artwork on the walls to balance it. Likewise, the opposite way would work.

Also, some people may choose to go through the process the other way around. Start a room with a centerpiece, then build a theme and color palette around it. This type of element stacking is excellent for transitionally-styled spaces.

Reaping the Benefits of Natural Light

One of the most important things in transitional spaces is having natural lighting. Use ample glass windows and reflective surfaces to maximize natural light in the room. Natural light greatly benefits our mood. It is one of the best things about the style’s focus on it.

Despite the focus on natural light, we’ll find that designers may sometimes mix things up. There could be a focal point when we walk into a traditional, naturally lit room.

Lighting Style in Transitional Interiors

One method of doing this could be incorporating a statement modern light piece. It creates a striking appeal the moment someone walks in. This is a beautiful way to show the blended nature of the transitional style. Below are a few other ways to play around with light in this theme.

  • Fearlessly modern chandeliers with traditional, ornate cabinets and tables
  • Minimal traditional lighting and a focus on windows for sunlight to seep in through
  • Reflective metallic surface with ornate details that also act as a way to spread light

Challenges of the Transitional Style

It creates a lot of effort to perfect such a visually striking transitional space. There are numerous things to consider on top of the usual factors in interior design. Some common problems with designing any space include:

  • Having to work in a small, tight space
  • Challenging client requests
  • Budget limitations
  • Minimal available wall areas
  • Balancing timeless styles with current trends

When we want to create a harmonious transitional space, we encounter additional difficulties. Below are a few of them.

Living room with small gray sofa, electric fireplace and large glass doorsThe Balancing Act

It’s easy to lean too much towards modernness when crafting such a complex room. Likewise, designers may sometimes realize that they have added too much “tradition.” It’s a delicate balance of traditionalism and modernness in this style. 

Designing a focal point that tops it all off tends to be one of the most excellent techniques for harmony. This is why color, fabrication, and furniture selection must all be carefully considered. Perhaps more so than usual, to create just the right atmosphere. 

There must be an evident flow between these elements. At the same time, we must highlight contradictions.

Avoiding Overwhelming Stuffiness

With the large amount of assorted elements in a room, it’s easy to make it stuffy. Items in such a space may end up competing against each other. Too much contradiction may appear, indicating a lack of harmony. This is something to avoid when picking out elements in transitional spaces.

Sticking only to two to thre specific sub-themes works best. It helps unite only a handful of elements to foster cohesiveness. Moreover, it keeps diversity yet balanced in a room. 

As a result, it will help tie together all elements while keeping them subtly different. A balance of contradiction is key.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Is Transitional Style Different From Modern Style?

Modern designs focus on minimalism and straight lines. On the other hand, transitional styles blend these characteristics with contemporary looks. They share similarities; however, the additional detail in transitional designs offers more nuance to a room.

How Do I Create a Transitional Style?

To create this style in a room, combine elements with the key characteristics in mind. Use neutral color palettes, incorporate pops of color, and more. Metallic accents, natural lighting, and statement pieces are essential as well. 

What Is a Transitional Light Fixture?

When incorporating transitional lighting, it’s best to encourage natural light in the room. At the same time, use fixtures that are neutral in color and fit with the theme. Simple curves work best. It’s also an opportunity to create a focal point when using a light fixture. 


In the transitional interior design style, everything has its place. It effortlessly combines familiarity and style, offering comfort without being overbearing. At the same time, it has the sleekness of modernness without being too minimalistic. It’s the perfect balance for those who want the best of both worlds.

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