16 Most Common Interior Design Styles, From Art Deco to Scandinavian

By Wendy Rose Gould
Wendy Rose Gould
16 Interior Design Styles to Know
01 of 16

Mid-Century Modern

Midcentury Modern Style

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As its name implies, mid-century modern design rose to fame in the middle of the 20th century, and was largely inspired by the Bauhaus movement and simplicity of Scandinavian design. “The mid-century modern design style emphasizes functionality, simplicity, and clean lines,” says Christina Simon, an interior designer with the Ashby Collective. “The design lies in the simplicity of beautiful craftsmanship. There are a lot of solid wood furniture pieces with sleek lines and low profiles.”

Other key characteristics include organic and rounded shapes, natural light, earthy tones, and natural materials, such as wood and leather.

02 of 16

Scandinavian

Scandinavian living room

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You can’t discuss mid-century modern design without going back to its Scandinavian origins. At its core, Scandi-style embraces minimalism and clean lines; it’s also a zero-mess style rooted in a deep appreciation for the environment. “Tones are very light and bright with pops of light wood and texture, such as sheepskin throws,” says Alexandre Lafleur, who runs Studio Lafleur, a boutique interior design firm. “The key to this style is that form always follows function, so nothing should be frivolous or draw too much attention.”

03 of 16

Minimalism

Minimalism style

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Minimalism shuns excessive ornamentation and embraces simplicity, instead. “It’s characterized by clean lines and a focus on functionality,” says Chije Kang, a Korean-Spanish designer and architect. “It’s simple. The goal is to create a sense of calm and tranquility through the use of essential elements. In minimalism, the color palette is limited, there are [clean] spaces, and there’s a preference for natural materials.”

04 of 16

Maximalism

pink sofa with floral pillows and patterned rugs

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Maximalism is an eclectic and bold interior design style that emerged, arguably, as a response to minimalism. It celebrates excess and vibrancy via bold pattern mixing, unique color combinations, and layered textures. The term itself is part of the modern lexicon, but we’ve seen iterations of maximalism throughout history.  “Maximalism draws inspiration from various time periods and cultures, resulting in a visually rich and layered aesthetic that embraces ornamentation and decorative details,” Simon says. “Key features include patterns on patterns, vibrant colors, luxurious textiles, visual information, bold statements, and a lot of embellishment.”

05 of 16

Contemporary

Contemporary living room

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Less is more when it comes to contemporary interior design—but it’s not as extreme as minimalism. With this interior design style, a home’s architecture and furniture become the primary focus. “It’s less interested in the modern style of the 1950s and more focused on mixing new with old to create a thoughtful, considered scheme,” says Helen Ashmore, the head of design for Laura Ashley. “Contemporary design still features clean lines and favors a neutral color palette, but has been softened recently with a focus on softer edge textiles and finishing details.”

Today, exposed architectural elements or large windows define this aesthetic. These details invite the outdoors in, resulting in a modern, open look suited to the indoor-outdoor lifestyle so many of us enjoy.

06 of 16

Traditional

traditional, classic home interior

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Timeless and enduring, traditional interior design is as much of an idea as it is an aesthetic. With 18th- and 19th-century origins, this style—which spotlights rich woods and elegant woodwork, fabrics like leather, velvet, and silk, and dark colors—informed much of the American interior design lexicon. Traditional homes are often filled with stately antiques (typically of European origin), heavy furniture (think Queen Anne chairs), and classic moldings and patterns (including plaids).

07 of 16

Rustic

Rustic bedroom

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A laid-back approach to design, rustic décor leans into the “unfinished” appeal of nature’s beauty. It’s never overly processed, fussy, or stuffy. In that sense, a rustic home doesn’t take itself too seriously and is an inviting place to kick back and unwind. 

“Natural materials are the focus here, such as live-edge wood tables, raw fabrics, and stone,” says Lafleur. “Upcycled antiques can be given a new lease on life with a simple sanding or a fresh coat of paint. Color palettes are neutral, warm, and inspired by nature.”

08 of 16

Industrial

Industrial living room style

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Industrial style is an aesthetic inspired by steely factories and the technological advancements of the Industrial Revolution. “Exposed brick, steel-cased windows, corroded metal, and concrete floors are all trends that harken back to this style,” says Lafleur.

In the 1960s and ’70s, artists with limited resources began taking up residence inside abandoned factories in failing or forgotten neighborhoods, like SoHo in New York City, says Lafleur. These artists leveraged their creativity to strip and reconfigure cavernous spaces, keeping industrial and structural elements exposed—choices we make to artful effect in our homes today.

09 of 16

Art Deco

Art Deco living room

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The Art Deco interior design style blossomed in France just after the turn of the 20th century. By the 1920s, it defined how we saw glamor across the globe. Defined by intricate, geometric designs, Art Deco interiors often feature stylized florals balanced with sleek lines. “The tone conveyed luxury and had an exuberant and whimsical flair, and it significantly impacted interior design and architecture,” Ashmore says of this aesthetic’s origins. “Art Deco helped people embrace a modern look that mirrored the attitudes of the time. This still translates as decadent—its details give this design style a very glamorous, aspirational look in the modern day market.”

10 of 16

Feng Shui

Feng Shui Style

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“Rooted in ancient Chinese philosophy, Feng Shui is an artful practice that promotes balance and harmony in our living spaces,” Kang says. “It emphasizes the flow of energy, or qi, and seeks to optimize the well-being of occupants.” This interior design style highly prioritizes the strategic placement of furniture and other decorative touches, including mirrors. There’s also a strong emphasis on incorporating natural elements via plants, water elements, neutral tones, and light. 

11 of 16

Hollywood Regency

hollywood regency style

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Hollywood Regency style references Hollywood’s Golden Age; it’s a mashup between 1920s Art Deco and 1950s mid-century modern style. “During this period, set designers would create exuberant interiors for the silver screen, and stars were quick to request similarly indulgent private homes,” Lafleur says. “Glamorous personalities, such as Joan Crawford, had their decorators create sumptuous spaces that were purely maximalist—sometimes in the extreme.” 

Elements of  particular note include elaborate chandeliers dripping with crystals, mirrored furniture, excessive jewel-toned draperies, and gold accents.  

12 of 16

Farmhouse

farmhouse kitchen

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Farmhouse style has been around for quite a while, though modern adaptations have become especially popularized by modern designers. “Farmhouse style typically includes simple details like shiplap, rustic materials like stone or rough hewn beams, and loads of white paint,” says interior designer Bethany Adams, the founder of Bethany Adams Interiors. “The style can be traditional or more modern-leaning, but the simpler the better when you’re looking to incorporate this style into your own home.”

13 of 16

Bohemian

Bohemian style

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Free-spirited and eclectic, bohemian interior design rose in popularity alongside the 1960s and 1970s counterculture. According to Simon, it embraces a mix of global influences, wabi sabi, textures, and patterns, often combining vintage and handmade elements. “Recycling and mixing and matching create a collected-over-time look that is a standard of this style,” Simon says. “Key characteristics include an abundance of plants, mismatched furniture, vibrant colors, layered textiles, and a sense of relaxed and unconventional living.”

The style is further elevated through high-quality textiles, organic materials, handmade tiles and furnishings, and a sense of natural—not forced—relaxation.

14 of 16

Coastal

bright white master bedroom with pale blue accents
Courtesy of Tharon Anderson

The coastal interior design style is a perfect fit for homes located by the seaside. Here, the goal is to lean into the natural environment and bring some of that outdoor maritime charm inside. “Influenced by early sea-faring and fishing communities like Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard on the East Coast, coastal style is relaxed, bright, and cheerful,” says Adams. “Weatherbeaten cedar shingles are a must, as is the use of the color blue. Baskets and anything boat related—such as anchors, buoys, and nets—abound.”

15 of 16

Southwestern

Southwestern living room

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“In the middle of the last century, artists like Georgia O’Keefe helped popularize and bring awareness to traditional Southwestern style,” says Adams. Homes designed around this aesthetic feature smooth plaster finishes in colors reminiscent of the desert landscape and plenty of round, natural wood beams. Additional characteristics that define this style include stucco walls, hand-painted tiling, bold patterns, and warm lighting. 

16 of 16

Mountain

Mountain interior style

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While coastal style leans into the beauty of soft waves and warm sand, mountain-inspired interior design style embraces the beauty of mountain peaks and lush woods. “Rugged beauty defines mountain style,” Adams says. “You won’t see a lot of white drywall. Instead, look to wood paneled walls and ceilings, statement stone fireplaces, and neutral, hard-wearing materials like wool and leather in mountain-style interiors.”

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