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When decorating any space, it’s important to have a clear idea of the type of style or colour palette you want to use. Few of us are blessed with the innate ability to simply pull items together and make them ‘work’ — including us!
It helps to have an understanding of different interior
styles, so you can more easily identify what your personal style is, which may
very well be a blend of two or more styles!
Let’s run through the most popular interior design styles so you can find out which one/s speak to you most.
Related article: Do you know what your interior style is? Take the quiz!
Related article: The ultimate guide for achieving a coastal interior style
This style stumps a lot of people — and for good reason — it’s a fluid design style that’s based on what’s in style here and now (not to be mistaken with ‘Modern’ style). For this reason, the characteristics that define this style are continually evolving. We also believe place plays a large part of shaping this style; certainly, the contemporary Australian interior style looks very different to contemporary American, which is far more ornate.
Right now, the contemporary style in Australia is defined by
large, abstract artworks, panelled feature walls, punches of colour in deep,
muted tones and highly textured décor.
There’s a newfound appreciation for artisanry, such as beautiful
handmade woven baskets or hand-thrown ceramics.
A common theme of the contemporary interior style though, no matter how it morphs over time, is an emphasis on connecting the indoors to the out. Generally, there’s also a focus on form — right now we’re seeing curved, arch shapes coming through whereas up until recently, clean, minimal lines dominated.
I mentioned in the intro the idea of fusion styles. Many
interior styles can blend, so long as they share some similar characteristics
or values. When it comes to the contemporary style, you’ll often hear of
hybrids like ‘contemporary boho’, ‘contemporary coastal’ and ‘contemporary
As the name suggests, this interior style is all about simplicity. From the shape and style of furniture, to the colour palette of the space, and of course the decorating — the saying ‘less is more’ applies.
Minimalist design takes notions from modern and Scandinavian
styles and simplifies them further. Despite being stripped back, it needn’t be
stark or sterile. In fact, many people embrace minimalist styling because it
creates a soothing and inviting ambience. There’s serenity in simplicity.
Typically, minimalist spaces embrace a monochromatic colour
palette of white, grey and black but you do see occasional accent colours.
Everything should have a purpose. In minimalist design,
function and form are key. Styling is deliberate and everything in the space
belongs (a far cry from the eclectic style where ‘more is more’).
Lighting also plays an important role in bringing this style
to life. Where there isn’t ample natural light, floor lamps almost always
feature in a space.
This style can blend with almost any other as it’s about
removing clutter and simplifying a space to only that which belongs.
Gaining popularity as one of the most popular interior design styles in recent times, the boho style celebrates culture and travels. Unique objects and artwork are the hero pieces of these spaces.
Boho interiors embrace a neutral palette that’s brought to
life with texture. Think rattan, knotted wool, jute, woven baskets, raw cotton,
cane, macramé and ceramics. Indoor plants also play a leading role.
You’ll often see hanging chairs, worn furniture, large floor
cushions, wall weaves and statement chandeliers in these spaces. The modern
take on boho style is less hippy and more elevated though so luxe items can
also be thrown into the mix.
There’s no defining colour palette for the boho style — some are ultra tonal, playing with shades of one colour, while others inject bold accent colours.
Most recently, the boho style has taken a moodier turn with dark-coloured or even black feature walls creating a dramatic statement — a drastic change from the bright, all-white and airy look that dominated for so long.
When it comes to hybrid boho styles, you’ll find ‘boho luxe’
and ‘boho coastal’ are two of the most popular.
Move over ’90s beachy decorating, today’s coastal interior style is far more contemporary. Inspired by the sea and sky, the coastal style is light and breezy, and embraces a colour palette drawn from the ocean.
The coastal style is defined by natural materials and
textures. The base is generally light and airy, paired with accents of blue and
green. Timber plays a leading role, acting to ground spaces while adding
Décor needn’t be overtly ‘beachy’. In recent years, cliché
coastal wall art has been replaced by more sophisticated photographic pieces,
and décor of oars and lifebuoys have been set aside to make room for abstract
pieces such as bowls made from aged wood or shell.
Linen slip-cover furniture, raw timber tables, woven baskets and jute rugs all suit this style to a T. Don’t forget to add some oversized cane pendant lights into the mix for serious wow-factor.
The new brand of coastal style is focused on creating a
relaxed and comfortable environment rather than filling the space with
ocean-themed references to the point of feeling kitsch.
The coastal style is perfect for mixing with contemporary or
Sophisticated and timeless, the Provincial style is all
about quiet elegance achieved through impeccable craftsmanship.
Furniture is ornate and often combines soft with hard. Think
upholstered bedheads with tufting or studding detail, carved chests with
gilding, and armchairs with cabriole legs.
Natural materials like stone, brick and gold often play a role in these spaces. Textiles are generally heavier — embossed silk, mohair velvet or 100% linen — and often patterned, such as stripe, floral or check.
The colour palette in Provincial spaces is a mix of creamy
whites, dove greys and ivory with splashes of soft green, duck egg or inky
blues. For something more adventurous, you could try accents of lavender,
turquoise or dusty pink.
If you want to play with the Provincial style, it’s been
known to blend with everything from coastal to industrial.
This design style refers to the resurgence of mid-century
design (spanning from roughly the mid-1940s to 1970s) but through a modern lens.
Mid-century modern focuses on clean lines and contemporary
patterns that are carried through from fixed materials (linear mosaic kitchen splashbacks
or timber panel walls, for example) to soft furnishings (cushions or rugs with
modern patterns). Natural materials, especially timber, are celebrated and used
Iconic mid-century furniture items are often the hero of the
room, such as furniture designed by Herman Miller or Hans Wegner,
and combined with contemporary art and décor to create a fresh, modern look.
Alternatively, new furniture could be custom made taking inspiration from the
Statement lighting, period art, neutrals paired with bright
pops of colour, and quirky accents decorate these homes.
There’s plenty of scope to create a unique mid-century
modern look of your own but if you feel like incorporating other design
influences, consider trying ‘mid-century eclectic’ or ‘mid-century boho’.
The industrial style is about exposing what lies beneath to
achieve a raw, edgy style. The bones of a building are often the hero in the
form of exposed ceilings or beams, brick or concrete slab walls, and even
exposed pipes and hardware.
When it comes to styling, sparse, functional furniture,
metal light fixtures and large-scale abstract photographic artwork are used.
Colour palettes can be muted and play more with texture and material, such as
combining leather and metal, or at times you’ll see bold accent colours like
red and yellow used.
In early 20000s, the industrial style was done to death and once it hit its peak, many of us needed a break from it. So for some time, we haven’t seen industrial design making a big appearance in Australian homes… but that’s beginning to change and industrial is re-emerging as one of the most popular interior design styles.
The new wave of industrial is more luxurious. DIY timber
pallet furniture has been replaced with refined pieces that embrace texture. And
it’s less masculine with warmer textures and indoor plants used to soften
If you like the industrial style but want to give it your
own spin, consider trying a ‘mid-century modern industrial’, ‘luxe industrial’ or
even ‘coastal industrial’ version by incorporating other design elements into
We’ve seen various interpretations of the Scandinavian design
evolve, from warm and homely interiors to ultra-minimal black and white spaces.
However, Scandinavian design is all about pared-back style that’s centred
Generally, the Scandinavian style is defined by a crisp
white base that incorporates natural elements such as wood, furs and indoor
plants. Although moodier colour palettes, including the rise of black feature
walls, are gaining popularity.
Similar to the minimialist style, there’s a focus on
function and clutter-free spaces, but texture plays a more leading role in
You can’t go wrong with some iconic Scandinavian homewares,
such as the By Lassen Kubus candle holder, marble décor and a gallery wall to
decorate. Large, statement lighting is always a winning idea too.
Scandi is one of the most popular design styles so if you love this style, you can find 13 ways to achieve a Scandinavian style interior here.
The luxe style spells elegance and opulence. There’s usually
a bold application of pattern and colour. Spaces are intricately layered and
beautifully measured with nothing but the best.
Large mirrors, architectural lighting and patterned textiles
feature heavily in luxe interiors. Almost everything can be, and often is,
custom made to fit the space perfectly. From uniquely patterned carpets to
custom joinery, everything in the space has precision.
You’ll often see glimmers of gold or brass throughout to
give these spaces sophistication and presence. Other materials that feature
heavily include natural stone (and the more rare or unusual, the better)
designer wallpaper and furs.
Fusion styles you often hear are ‘boho luxe’ or ‘coastal luxe’
but it blends with any style as it’s all about taking things up a notch and
using the highest quality materials and finishes.
Do you love to let your creativity run wild? Then this
playful design style could be the one for you. The electic style is a mix of
old and new, luxury and salvaged, East and West… almost anything goes!
You do however need to have more of a styling eye to pull off
this look! Otherwise, all those items you’re throwing together could just look
like a hot mess.
Some defining characteristics of the eclectic style are
celebrating the use of reclaimed materials or objects, contrasting rustic
against elegant, and unexpected accents.
A trick to elevate your eclectic styling is to introduce repetition.
Display a collection of similar objects together or create a gallery wall with
some common elements. Across the room, you can also repeat colours or shapes.
This will help to create rhythm in your space and avoid the issue of it feeling
chaotic which is a trap to watch for in eclectic design. The aim is to create
an engaging mix of objects that emulate warmth.
If you want to give the eclectic style your own spin,
consider trying a ‘luxe eclectic’ look where you dial up the elegant pieces in
the space and embrace a more opulent colour palette.
Did this guide to the 10 most popular interior design styles shed some light for you on what your individual style could be? We’d love to know what style or fusion style you are — tell us by posting a comment below! Of course there are also many more design styles out there, including shabby chic, Hollywood glam, and modern.
This article was first published in January 2020 and continues to be updated with the latest information and images.