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Home Interior Design Styles: What is Transitional Design?

Combining design elements to personalize your style

By RaShea Drake
August 9, 2019

*We interviewed design professionals and the Vevano Home design team to create this series of interior design style guides. When you finish learning about transitional design don’t forget to see the rest of the series at the Vevano Home blog.

A Brief History

Transitional interior design example

A more recent style of interior design, transitional design is unique in its flexibility. Most interior design styles have defined rules and are based on the style of a specific time period or place. Transitional is different. Instead of taking inspiration from an era, it takes inspiration from other design styles – most notably contemporary, modern or traditional.

The Definition of Transitional Style

Do you ever look inside a room and think “It’s beautiful, except it’s not quite my style”? That’s where transitional comes in. According to Bryan Stoddard, Director at Homewares Insider, “Transitional design is a reinvention of the old, classical styles using modern materials and elements to increase usability, all the while maintaining that unique flavor of a timeless design with a special twist.” Traditional may seem too austere or impractical, contemporary may seem to lack some flourishes, and modern too focused on lines and minimalism. Transitional finds the balance between other styles. Much like shopping, you can take what fits your style and leave what does not.

Characteristics of Transitional Interior Design

While transitional design is very dependent on your personal style and taste, there are still guidelines to keep in mind. It’s important to find the balance between style elements so that your design flows together beautifully with a mix of straight lines and curves. It’s best to think of transitional as being clean and consistent overall, but with splashes of color and interest in the décor, furnishings, and accessories. The overall consistency enhances those flourishes and interesting elements, making them stand out in the best of ways.


“When trying to create a transitional design you should be guided with a desire to create a timeless space that is comfortable, and cozy to live in but that's also touched by more modern elements.” Bryan Stoddard, Homewares Insider

  • Design layout includes a thoughtful mix of curves and straight lines.
  • Combines other interior design styles, most commonly between traditional, contemporary, or modern.
  • Practical, clean design with a few flourishes and embellishments as focal points.

Color Palette:

“Neutral tones are the most popular. Whites, warm creams, beiges or tans add warmth and are easy to layer with other accent colors.” -Martha McNamara, Director of Design and Product, Vevano Home

  • One hue dominates the room, especially warm creams, beiges, or tans.
  • On top of the main color, add up to four or five tones to create depth, complementary tone, and focal points that don’t overwhelm the eye.
  • Additional shades can be lighter or darker variants of the main color to add layers for depth. Complementary jewel tones can also be used.


“It is often the details and decorative accents that are used in a room that can change its feel from just standard traditional decor to a transitional one.” -Stephanie Purcell, Interior Designer, Redesigned Classics

  • Use window treatments, rugs, pillows, and blankets or throws to add more layers to a room.
  • A few bold pieces such as large paintings, framed and matted photographs, or bold lighting pieces are perfect additions.
  • Enjoy a variety of textures and finishes. Velvet, wood, rattan, wallpaper, corduroy, metal finishes, and glass are all popular elements to use.
Transitional interior style

How to Create the Transitional Look in Your Home

Shaker Antique Cabinets
Bengal Bay Hardwood
Wide Round Knob
Shaker Cinder Cabinets
Uptown Light Wall
Pull-Down Faucet
Woodland Chandelier
Modern Bar Pull
Bar Faucet


If you’ve been wondering how to achieve the clean lines of modern design but still have a few sophisticated touches of elegance, transitional interior design may be the right fit for you. Now that you’ve learned about the transitional style, take a look at the rest of the design series on the Vevano Home blog.