Interior Design Styles, What They Mean, And What They Look Like

Glam, modern, chic,… what do they all mean? You hear these words all the time that seemingly convey an idea more than they do a visual style that you can easily describe. It’s almost like trying to explain a color to someone. With the interior design world exploding and tools becoming more accessible to ordinary people, different subcultures have developed within design. We’re going to break down for you what they all mean, as well as how they look.


Art deco is one of the most commonly heard yet misunderstood styles in the world of interior design. Starting in the early years of the 20th century, the art deco design style is easy to identify by its rejection of classical influences, favoring geometric shapes and metallic color palettes. Streamlined, clean lines also signify this classic style.

The main color themes in art deco are metallics, neutral colors, as well as bright pops of color on an otherwise neutral and metallic palette. Black and white is also a popular color scheme in many art deco designs.


Might as well start off with a bang. Modern is the type of word that changes meaning constantly. What is considered modern doesn’t stay that way for very long.

In interior design, the word modern generally means open concept, sharp lines, and a pretty neutral color palette with a splash of color at the very most. Even when color is used the shades are pretty muted in comparison to some of the other interior design styles.


Isn’t contemporary just another word for modern? Not in interior design, it isn’t!

Contemporary differs from modern in that it describes the present moment, where modern describes more of a look. Even though modern has the same meaning, the design term modern describes a strict type of design that came about in the early 20th century.

Contemporary interior design is able to represent a sense of “now” without having to abide by as many strict guidelines. Contemporary can use a few curves here and there while keeping its name. Modern can’t.


Modern and contemporary are the beginning of what it means to be minimalist, but minimalism brings it to another level.

Minimalism is embodied by wide open spaces, muted color palettes, and very little in the way of design elements.


If you’ve ever been to Williamsburg, then you know industrial interior design. Exposed piping and structural elements, concrete, and other highly accessible and workable materials are used to give a feeling that almost feels like you’re showing up for work to finish the building.

You see this a lot in urban professional neighborhoods, modern offices, & hip eateries and coffee shops all over Brooklyn and Manhattan.


Mid-century modern interior design is a retro style of design dating back to the 50s and 60s. You can tell that it almost has a “that 70s show” type of feel to it.

You’ll often notice a lot of ergonomic and natural shapes in mid-century modern. Egg shapes and rounded curves are common in this time period. Furniture like this can add a bit of an artsy vibe when incorporated into more modern designs.


Scandinavian interior design is a minimal, functional choice. It is having a bit of a moment right now in the design world. You see it everyday on social media, design blogs, and magazines.

Scandinavian design started hitting the community around the 1930s. From there, it became more prominent in the 1950s. Nordic designs can now be seen on most modern, mainstream furniture retailers.


If you’re into the more traditional look for interior design, you are probably into a rich color palette, wood accents, and accessories throughout the space. The fabrics used have ornate, almost old-world patterns that are expertly designed and printed.

It’s an elegant style rich with a warm, inviting feel to it.


Transitional interior design borrows from both the modern and traditional styles but combines them in a way that is visually pleasing. The balance is tricky to master but produces some beautiful interiors when used the right way.

The mixture of modern and traditional creates a timeless design that represents the old and the new.


The French country style of interior design lends itself to carved, custom wooden furniture, warm color palettes, and contrasting textures and colors.

The french country style has that elegant yet rustic feel. The look is not complete without a bunch of handcrafted wood pieces.


The bohemian style is one that can adapt depending on “how bohemian” you want to get with the space you’re designing. It’s bright and patterned. It is full of visual elements to keep you and your guests entertained with as little as a look around.

Minimalism is best avoided. Accessories are a cornerstone of the bohemian style and the more out there and unique your pieces are, the better. The word bohemian refers to a person who is ahead of the current trends, unconventional, and often an artist of sorts. A term that would fit what we commonly know as “hipsters.”


That old country, wooden feeling is what you can expect to get from the rustic style. Any rustic space usually has that warm feeling that you get when there is plenty of natural material like wood around. Exposed beam-work is also commonly seen.

If you want that warm cozy “by the fire” feel (with or without an actual fireplace) then the rustic style might be one on your list of favorites.


The shabby chis style is one of the most recent additions. exemplified by one-of-a-kind vintage pieces, this style can be identified by the half-restored-looking furniture and cabinetry you would expect to see in a fixer-upper.

Pieces of furniture are rarely new and have usually seen many coats of paint over their many years. In many ways, you can liken shabby chic interiors to the wardrobes of thrifters. The ideologies are the same. Finding something unique, beautiful, and cheap.

A lot of the time, shabby chic connoisseurs will restore their furniture themselves from a broken or chipped paint piece into something original and new.


Hollywood glam and art deco seemingly share many common themes. The use of metallic is prevalent just like it is in art deco. There is also a fair amount of neutral colors present in most palettes.

You can see here the use of many neutrals and metallics with pops of color present in subtle ways, like flowers and the choice of couch upholstery. This is what Hollywood glam is all about – showing your unique style thorough subtle pops of color and glamour throughout an otherwise neutral space.


The Hamptons style interior design is one of our specialties. It has that warm, beachy, family feel with tons of light colors and blue accents. the perfect vibe for a Hamptons home away from home and the style you will see in a majority of spaces out there, from personal residences to air BnBs.

Simple, relaxed, yet elegant and beachy. The perfect vibe to compliment any Hamptons beach house.

For all of these styles and more, get in touch with us. We are a premier interior design firm located in Long Island, serving New York and beyond. Voted top 10 Interior designers in Long Island by Decor Mag!