Transitional Style Architecture and Design - Explained

Transitional Style Architecture and Design - Explained

Additions and Remodels
Decoration and Design
By Team July 22, 2021

There’s something to be said about having the best of both worlds. A case in point is the very popular transitional design style. What’s better than taking the best of tradition, the sleekest of modern design, and creating a trendy combo? When done right, transitional homes are full of warmth, balance, and style. The transitional design style recognizes an immutable truth: the old and new live side by side, as they always have. 

Traditional aesthetics can sometimes feel too stuffy on their own, and modern interior designs can come off as cold. But when these two opposites are brought together, the results work surprisingly well. The resulting combination is a beautiful balance between the aesthetic qualities of both design styles. The transitional look is therefore a paragon of comfort, sophistication, and elegance.    

Roots of Transitional Design

Before WWII, modernism had been all the rage. It was everywhere and in almost everything. Every new building, loads of new consumer products, and even cars started going for provocative modernist looks. Everything had to be streamlined, decluttered, simplified, and sleek. 

The Inevitable Transition

This craze continued after the Second World War, but by then something had changed. Some had grown tired of the starkness of the modernist / minimalist style and believed that it was too cold and clinical. While a few pined for a return to traditional aesthetics, many wanted something with modern touches that maintained coziness and a sense of character — a combination most modernist spaces did not have. 

Staying Relevant By Evolving

It was this yearning that led to the development of an entirely new style in the 1950s which came to be known as the transitional style. As the name implies, this new style tried to combine elements of the old and the new, and thus provide a gradual aesthetic transition. As with the design styles it draws from, the transitional design style has evolved with the times and has continued to incorporate contemporary motifs. 

This allows the design style to always feel relevant even as people’s aesthetic tastes change. Transitional designs still combine traditional motifs with modernist ones, but a transitional design can even be a combination of other aesthetics as well.    

How to Recognize the Transitional Style

Some distinctive giveaways indicate that an interior was designed in the transitional style. 

Curves and Straight Lines

In other words, a combination of two contradictory style features. Transitional interior design loves to combine seemingly disparate elements. Surprisingly, this can often result in something quite beautiful which couldn’t be achieved if the motifs were used separately. So expect to see curves and straight lines existing in perfect harmony. 

This can be in the form of a minimalist sleek granite coffee table forming the centerpiece for some traditional furniture pieces, each adorned with generous curves. There is a logic to this randomness though, and it comes in the form of extensive color coordination as well as decluttering. 

The Forms and Shapes of Transitional Interiors

The Forms and Shapes of Transitional Interiors

Neutral Colors

These different aesthetics fit together thanks to the use of primarily neutral colors, which prevents anything from sticking out like a sore thumb. There is also a level of coordination when it comes to the materials that are used in each space. Transitional interiors will typically feature lots of heavy natural materials such as wood, glass, steel, and natural stone, as well as linens. 

These common materials and colors allow the different motifs to blend more seamlessly. Items with similar color palettes are just less likely to clash, especially if they’re made of a similar stock of materials.  

A Touch of Minimalism

Every transitional design incorporates a bit of minimalism into the space to help things fit together more easily. This avoids excessive clutter and also prevents everything from feeling too stuffy. A transitional design style interior therefore will abstain from having lots of accessories such as end tables, art pieces, decorative vases, etc. Instead, the typical transitional space will keep such things to a minimum to maintain the balance between traditional and modern styles. Of course, things won’t be too minimalist in a transitional space either for obvious reasons. 

How Less is More In Transitional Designs

How Less is More In Transitional Designs

How to Bring Transitional Interior Design into Your Home  

This style might seem a bit more complicated than other design styles, but you’ll be happy to know that it is relatively simple to bring into your home. The transitional home is yours to have if you’re willing to do a few DIY remodel projects in your home. 

Do Some Painting

As you might have guessed, a neutral color scheme is an important part of any transitional interior design. If your house doesn’t have those, it’s time to do some painting. What you’re looking for are subdued colors like grey, cream, and the like. 

Don’t worry too much about accent colors, because trim and transitional furniture are typically used for accenting throughout a transitional interior. Of course, this is assuming that you are going for the classic traditional-modernist combination. If you want to go for something that mixes and matches with a different aesthetic such as the French Country style instead, Mediterranean colors such as blues and bright whites are better options.   

The Harmonious Colors of Transitional Design

The Harmonious Colors of Transitional Design

Incorporate Some Natural Textures into Your Interior Design

This is a huge part of that cozy warm feeling that a transitional interior exudes, so it’s important to pay attention to it. In essence, you want to layer various natural textures as part of your transitional design style remodel. When it comes to flooring, hardwood (or a lookalike) is a must for the perfect transitional design feel. And as for tables and countertops, you’ll want to find pieces that combine wood, steel, and natural stone. 

It’s ok if you can’t find all of these in one piece, but in general, you want all these materials to be represented in your transitional interior. This is part of the intersection of design motifs championed by transitional design and is what makes the space feel so homey. 

Best Textures That Go With Transitional Interiors

Best Textures That Go With Transitional Interiors

When it comes to furniture such as armchairs, beds, and sofas, it is recommended that you seek out pieces made with wooden or metal frames and upholstered with rattan or linen. All of this serves to assemble a rich, layered mix of high-quality materials that look nice, feel good to the touch, and make the space very welcoming. 

On Decorations

The key to striking the right balance is to focus on minimizing accessories in your transitional style home. This means you should avoid putting too much artwork on the walls (one or two pieces per room is usually enough), as well as avoid having too many smaller furnishings such as end tables and coffee tables. 

Instead, aim to just have one centerpiece accessory for each space. For example, have one coffee table as the sole centerpiece and accessory for your living room, save for maybe a painting. You want to avoid the clinical look of a modernist space so don’t go too hard on the decluttering. Remember that you can include more decorations than would be featured in a typical minimalist design, but should avoid going beyond that.   

Creative Decor Ideas for Transitional Interior Design

Creative Decor Ideas for Transitional Interior Design

Feel free to mix and match transitional decor from different sources as part of your redecorating. If you have new items, older pieces, classic decor, and exotic decorative items put them all together in a tasteful layout. This achieves more than just showing off your collection of impressive trinkets from around the world. It also helps add to the richness of the space, filling it with conversation starters and personality. 

Avoid Anything Garrish

Just to shake things up, here’s a tip about something you shouldn’t do if you’re gunning for that transitional interior design. Transitional decor allows for mixing things up, but there are some limits to the aesthetic. For one, you should avoid letting bright vibrant colors such as reds, yellows, or oranges dominate the space. 

This can throw off the balance that you’re trying to create, and will also cause your interior design to head in a different direction entirely (those colors are more associated with Bohemian style design). So while your decor and furnishings can be made up of a wide variety of different items made of diverse materials, it’s best to ensure that those items are compatible with the balanced look you’re trying to achieve.

Written by Team

Written by Team

Welcome to the Team, a group of passionate individuals dedicated to helping homeowners achieve their dream home through the best-in-class service providers and inspiring content.

We believe that every homeowner deserves to have a home that they love, and we're committed to making that a reality. Whether you're looking to remodel your kitchen, renovate your bathroom, or build your dream home from scratch, we've got you covered.

When it comes to creating content, we take a multi-faceted approach. We gather insider tips from experts in the home service industry, and do our own thorough research to write informative and engaging articles that are tailored to our readers' needs. At the same time, we harness the power of A.I. and GPT-3 technologies to generate titles, headlines, and even entire articles that are optimized for SEO and designed to provide value to our readers.

We're committed to providing the best possible service to our readers, and we're always looking for ways to improve. Whether you're a homeowner looking for inspiration or a service provider looking to join our network, we're here to help you achieve your goals.