What are the main interior design styles? While trends come and go, the key styles of interior design endure the test of time. We’ve sourced inspiring imagery and expert advice on each one for you, so you can make your creative decisions with confidence.
The eight key interior design styles are:
- Scandinavian: cool, cosy accents, and simple colours
- Eclectic: break the rules, have fun, and be bold
- Industrial: bare brick, rough textures, and solid structures
- Vintage: elegant, romantic, and sophisticated in nature
- Minimalist: valuing open space above things
- Mid-Century Modern: organic and geometric
- Coastal: satisfying our longing for sea, sand, and sun
- Contemporary: glass and metal in clean lines
Now let’s dive in...
Inspired by the snow, mountains and fjords of the Nordic countries, Scandi interiors are proving enduringly popular across the globe. This timeless interior style works beautifully in living areas, bedrooms and bathrooms. Layer wools, fabrics and fur onto a glass or wooden framework for an effortlessly cool Nordic interior. Think pared back cosiness, clean lines and plenty of texture. It’s time to embrace the Danish concept of hygge – our love affair with Scandi style is set to stay.
We all love the 'Scandi' look and for us its about keeping things simple and investing in quality. A great wide board bard Douglas fir floor for example with white walls looks amazing, the pinky wood adds texture and interest. Keep shapes simple and graphic with strong form. - Jordan Cluroe and Russell Whitehead, Interior Designers
Eclectic interiors borrow ideas from a range of different periods, styles and trends. Break the rules, have a little fun and inject your personality into your decorating – that’s what the eclectic style is all about. Still, it is important to maintain a sense of balance within your decorating. The very best eclectic interiors are a cohesive blend of old, new, colour, texture and pattern.
Eclectic style doesn't necessarily mean throwing everything you like into one room and calling it a day. Pay attention to how pieces relate to one another and how they relate to the room as a whole. You really should do this with any style but it becomes even more important when you have lots of disparate pieces in one space. You can’t have lots of items just fighting each other for attention – they need to work together, to have some commonalities, to ‘speak’ to each other in some way. Ensure they do this through scale or colour or finish for the most successful mix. - Kimberly Duran, Interior Blogger
From steel and stone to bricks and brass – industrial interior style is all about raw, exposed materials. Introduce metal fixtures or stripped back floorboards for a subtle but effective nod to the industrial trend. Statement lights are often a feature of industrial interiors and are particularly important for softening an otherwise cold space. Let your colour palette be guided by the raw materials used for a truly authentic industrial look.
Industrial interiors aren’t precious in the slightest, which means you’ll never feel the need to tiptoe around or be too careful in your home. But remember - this is your home and not a factory. Layer in textiles, art and rugs for a lived-in look that’s inviting to you and your guests. I love to pair a vintage Turkish rug with industrial style lighting & furniture – the contrast makes it interesting! - Natalie Marchbanks, Interior Blogger
Far from old-fashioned, vintage interior styling can be incredibly versatile. Whether you’re after a look that is charming and pretty or retro and edgy, adding some key vintage pieces can help you bring the room together. The best vintage interiors avoid looking overly twee by keeping clutter to a minimum. A vintage cabinet or storage unit is a fabulous way to update your interior in a stylish but practical way. Open shelves allow you to get creative with your styling, and can proudly showcase any books, trinkets or vintage accessories.
The best way to create an inviting home is to mix new furniture with vintage pieces, this is the most effective way to soften the look of new furniture. The perfect way to incorporate a vintage style is to look at the room's initial colour palette and add something extra. It’s best not to use similar materials and finishes but be bold and have something totally different and unique. A vintage piece should never blend in the room but should be a stand-out feature of the room that has the wow factor. - Maurizio Pellizoni, Interior Designer
The minimalist trend started in the early twentieth century and continues to pervade many aspects of modern life, interior design included. Initially influenced by the simplicity of Japanese design, minimalism works on the principle that less is more. Minimalist interiors are stripped down to their essential elements and empty space is left to make the design statement. Use colour sparingly in minimalist rooms, the idea is not to distract or detract from its simplicity. Black, white and primary colours are often regarded as best for a minimalist space.
Minimalist styling is not about creating a cold, hard, empty white box of a home. It is about using simple and natural forms, and taking away layers without losing the aesthetic appeal of the space. The focus is on shape, colour and texture, with a minimum of furniture and accessories. - Nicola Holden, Interior Designer
In the 1950s and ’60s, a post-war America was looking to break traditional design conventions and propel its design industries into the modern era. As a result, the mid-century modern style was born. Characterised by clean, simple lines, pops of blues and greens, and plenty of wood and rusty metals, mid-century modern is a design style with definite staying power. Looking for ways to incorporate the style into your home? Sarah Akwisombe’s top tip is to head to the charity shops. ‘Once you get out of London or bigger cities you’ll find they don’t always appreciate the mid-century modern style that much, so you can find some great lamps, teak furniture and even sofas and armchairs if you look well’, Sarah explains.
Mid-century modern consistently makes a style statement that's big on character, contours and colour so sits extremely well within the vibrant, eclectic designs I employ when creating an eco upcycled room; if I'm looking for instant impact, furniture and accessories from the '50s and '60s are an obvious choice: who could fail to be stunned by the beauty of a Merrow Associates chromed steel and rosewood sideboard or a statement display of different size and shape, same colour retro glass vases. - Chris Billinghurst, Eco Chic Interior Decorator
Traditionally, coastal interiors have centred around the cliché of seaside accessories, nautical motifs and distressed woodwork. Today, the best coastal interiors adopt a more contemporary approach. Subtle nods to seaside living work beautifully without overdoing it. Think natural materials, plenty of glass and breezy white draperies that combine to create a spacious coastal haven. The coastal look is relaxed and unassuming and, when done right, works just as well in a city apartment as it does in a beach-front property.
Coastal styling is all about keeping things light and breezy. Set the mood with a palette drawn from sand, shells, sea and sky, layering crisp white rooms with cream, khaki and barely-there blues. If your space is lacking in natural light, consider hanging a mirror opposite a window. - Nicola Holden, Interior Designer
Get the Coastal Look
The contemporary interior style is current, modern, and constantly evolving. The fluidity of contemporary interior design is particularly exciting – what is considered a contemporary interior now will likely change over the course of the twenty-first century. Today, contemporary interiors feature clean, unadorned spaces. Furniture tends to show exposed legs to create a feeling of space. Metals and glass are popular contemporary materials and intricate details are kept to a minimum.
Contemporary decorating, at its best, is all about clean-lined comfort. Those who love this style understand that a home can be both practical and beautiful. That said, contemporary spaces can feel stark and impersonal if you’re not careful. Balance square corners and right angles with curved edges and maximise cosiness with plush textures, like velvet & soft linen. I like to include at least one antique or vintage piece of furniture in an otherwise contemporary room to lend it a sense of history and timelessness. - Natalie Marchbanks, Interior Blogger
Which of the interior design styles are you looking forward to incorporating into your décor this year? Of course, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to interior styling and decorating, though these interior design tips may help. Blend vintage furniture with a modern colour palette or introduce industrial touches into your Scandi-style bedroom – the choice is yours!