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Transitional Style: A Perfect Blend of Past and Present

Joel Bray

When it comes to the topic of Interior Design Trends 2020, one trend that has really stuck out is transitional style. Now I bet you're wondering, what exactly is transitional style? This style came into fruition in the 1950s as a response to the peak of modern styles, which then continued to the 20th century as a refreshment on a style that focuses on certain luxury and comfort.

Before we get into the tips you need to achieve this trend that's here to stay, let's just take a small pause to clearly define just exactly what transitional style means. Simply put, transitional interior design is a blend of traditional and modern or contemporary design. It's the ultimate mix of layering traditional past with new architectural elements or decor items to create a beautifully balanced interior. This style has become a style of its own and we are fully on board. Now let's get down to the nitty-gritty!

Pictured: Ornate Decor

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Layering Old and New

Transitional style is all about the marriage of old and new. So how do we mix styles you ask? Start with a base whether it's new or existing that is either an architectural feature or a decor item. As simple as that sounds, the best way to really understand this style is by breaking down a transitional style room design where we can visually pinpoint the design and decor elements that define transitional interior design. Here are a few eye-catching examples where we will break down the new and existing architectural and decor items.

realhomes I onekindesign

Old & New

Both images above incorporate traditional architectural and modern or contemporary decor. The fireplaces have an updated traditional look making them both look refreshed. The second photo has a beautiful crown molding detail and is finished in a natural grey that completes a classic brick fireplace surround, while the fireplace in the first image is contrasted with a sophisticated matt black and white mantel. Finishing touches are in the decor selections of colorful accessories, statement focal lighting, and contemporary furniture.

Neautral Color Palette

An easily achievable starting base is through a neutral color scheme. Stick with taupes, tans, vanilla, greys, sand, and white without having too much. If you'd like to go a little bolder, use darker colors in varying shades such as black, charcoal, or blues.

Colorful accessories

Don't worry if you're not all about an all-neutral color scheme because transitional style is all about incorporating brightness into your space. Add pops of color while having fun with colorful accessories. Curtains, throw pillows, real and faux plants, or a bold statement rug and accent chair. Designer tip: try reupholstering a vintage chair or sofa to make a statement as well to add personality to your room. When adding contemporary decor, remember that less is more in this case where our goal is to balance two different styles.

Pictured: Modern and Contemporary Accessories



Look for sofas that have both contemporary and traditional features for an overall transitional piece like an English roll arm sofa characterized by its sophisticated silhouette, deep seat, tight back, and rolled arms. An alternative is to balance traditional architectural elements with a contemporary sofa with straight or rounded profiles.

Pictured: A more laid back casual English roll arm sofa and sectional

Pottery Barn

Lighting Style

Draw the attention up by adding traditional or contemporary lighting to your space. If you don't have any existing traditional architectural elements to work with, lighting is one way to move in the direction of a transitional home. Hang a traditional chandelier for a touch of glam and lux, or mix a ceiling medallion with a striking contemporary chandelier creating a somewhat work of art on the ceiling.

Pictured: Contemporary Chandeliers

Top: West Elm I Bottom: RFT, House of Brinson


Ground a room with large wooden furniture such as a large dining table, buffet cabinet, dresser, or bookend for craftsmanship appreciation. It's in the details that will take your room to that transitional style. If you've got an "outdated" dining set, bring it back to life by adding a layer of paint, wood stain, or coat of wax to highlight the items features.


Since this style is all about mixing, don't be afraid to mix metals. Incorporate metallic accents such as copper, gold, and bronze for a trendy look. Decorating trends 2020 is all about loosening up, being less strict, and creating a space that's you.

Top: White Dahlia Design I Urban Barn

Traditional Standout Items

Take your modern or contemporary space into the transitional style by including items that stand out from a different era. Items such as antiqued rugs, tapestries, furniture, and even wall coverings to add an artistic feature to your room.

Gianetti I Courtney Hill

Old & New

The details of these rooms speak true transitional interior design by mixing past and present furniture and decor while providing the look and feel of luxury and comfort. Each room offering extra comfort with large area rugs to ground the rooms.

Urban Barn

Interior design styles are continually changing with endless sources giving you a yes or no, and what's in or what's out, the flood of information can be a little confusing. Well, the beauty of the transitional interior design trend is that mixing old and new means that we can lay back a little and work with what we have. No need to worry about everything being so "matchy" and embrace the mixing of aged beauty with new contemporary or modern elements. If you have an older home with stained glass windows, wall panelling, or wainscoting, and feel it's out of date, embrace it by giving it a fresh coat of paint. Breath new life into vintage furniture and decor by reupholstering it. Besides, wouldn't we all be happier living in a space that feels true to ourselves?

Please feel free to connect via our social media platforms or blog if you were just as inspired by this style as we are and want to give it try in your own space. Subscribe down below for more up and coming trends where we will dig deep to help you incorporate interior design and decor styles into your own life!



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