Interior design can be a difficult thing to decide on, so here are some easy to interpret descriptions and some helpful hints on how to achieve the style of your choosing in any home.
Mid-Century Modern, more commonly just called Modern, is a style of decor that came into popularity in the 1950's and 60's, spurred on by the end of World War 2. It is a style of decor that has been deemed 'avant-garde', which simply means that it was very experimental and cutting edge. It made use of newer materials, such as molded plastic, bent or shaped woods (for an example of this, look at the chairs in the right hand side of the picture), as well as aluminum. One of the most characteristic things about this decor is the modular shape and style of the furniture. Furniture is made with smooth, clean lines, and it typically has tapered legs. The modular shapes and spindly legs helped the furniture look more lightweight and like the space was bigger, better for socializing, which was a big appeal during the time. This was helped a long by a tendency for lower furniture as well, couches and tables both low to the ground. This left an open, airy feeling, while also making a room feel more comfortable and lived in, clean and crisp, but also more cozy. Lighting is kept as natural as possible, with large windows (see the picture above, there are several lamps, but all the light is from those windows) to let in natural light. There isn't much color in this decor style, it is normally kept very neutral and simple. It is not uncommon, however, for the larger pieces of furniture to have neutral colors, such as tans, very pale blues and grays, and for there to be brighter spots of color found on throw pillows or other accent pieces. This prevents the room from becoming to cold, bland or empty seeming. Overall, Mid-Century Modern is a very open planned, relax decor style, and it is very easy to put together.
Contemporary is a difficult one to describe. It can sometimes be called Modern, but Modern is usually saved to refer to Mid-Century Modern. The reason it is difficult is because Contemporary decor is actually a style that changes very often. As a title, i is used to describe whatever style is very popular right now. So, what contemporary design is now is probably very different from what it will be ten, or even twenty years from now. It may experience several major shifts in that span of time. At the moment, contemporary crosses with Mid-Century Modern quite a bit, because the aesthetic and look of Mid-Century has become quite popular again. It tends to be defined with clean lines, and it is supposed to make a very casual, comfortable space. Spaces that are stlyed to be contemporary really need quite a lot of natural light, because it helps to soften the edges of the furniture and make the clean lines more comfortable and less severe. At the moment, a lot of the design involves nature. The big windows, stones, wood, and furry textures, help bring the outside indoors and make a room more inviting. Textures are the best way to bring creativity to this style of decor, because color is normally kept very muted. But, a beige or light grey couch with a good texture is ideal for use in a contemporary setting. Also, patterns make for good art, or rugs, so long as they keep with the trend of clean lines and have a certain geometric flair. What really helps to make this type of decor, though, is the floor plan. It needs to be open and, if possible, harmonious. The furniture can all be right for the style, but if you cram it in, it will make the room feel cramped and crowded, not comfortable and sustainable like the design is meant to make you feel.
Industrial is so named due to its origins. It began as old factories and industrial sites were sold and then made into lofts or studios. This led to people creating a style of decor around their sparse living areas. These buildings were full of utilitarian surfaces, concrete flooring and frequently had some kind of exposed ducting or pipes. Open floor pans and high ceilings are the norm for this sort of home, so it is helpful to make sure not to overfill the room when following this decor. Especially since it has a large focus around essentials. All of this isn't to say it cannot be pulled off in a normal home with, say, wood flooring, it is simply the origin of the style. Take the picture above as an example, it has a patterned wood floor, with a nice rug in the center of the room to make it feel warmed and more inviting. The bricks are bare, which adds to the simplicity of the design. There is a fairly limited palette, and it leans toward cool colors. This style of decor is perfect for people who like reclaiming and re-purposing salvaged objects. The picture above is a great example, it uses crates on the near end of the couch, either as replacement end table, or as a decoration. Many other options are available for the walls, old signs tend to be a particular favorite. In this case, maps in frames are just as good. Distressed wood is also a frequent favorite for furniture, or even for wall art. The idea is practicality, leaving nothing to waste. An old set of lockers could be storage, crates can be a table. An old light fixture, even if it's metal and not something most would put in a house, is a perfect touch when leaning toward industrial decor.
Rustic is one of the most easily recognizable styles of decor. It often has a bit of a western flair to it, purely because they share a sense of style. The whole point of rustic decor is to appreciate the rugged beauty of nature. The textures and colors are pulled directly from nature, and they provide a room with a simple, organic warmth. Rustic decor is best suited for rooms with wood floors, or as pictured above, a rough looking wood wall and ceiling. The less finished looking the wood is, the better it fits into the scheme of the decor. Irregular shapes and rough profiles are perfect for these rooms, because there are no truly uniform shapes in nature. For kitchens and bathrooms an occasional sleek surface will compliment nicely, which will help that surface to stand out. Also, a favorite of this style of decor is seeded or textured glass, which adds a beautiful touch of 'new' without losing the nature-based organic design. Unlike all of the others in this article thus far, this is best suited to warm colors, which compliment the warmth of the wood that helps define the style. Decorations are best found through re-purposing. Look for metal that appears to have a patina on it, or reclaimed wood, which is quit common in some wall art now. Aim for a variety of textures, especially linen, burlap, wool and other classically 'rustic' or western cloth textures. Quilts with bright colors are a good small accent. Outside of fabrics, leather is a very common texture to see in a rustic decor. Due to the origins, nature, and the lack of real uniformity in most leather furniture, it is a perfect fit for a rustic room.
Vintage decor, as it is put together, seems to be a simple way to term giving new life to old, retired items. Some of the pieces are not unlike those you might have seen in your grandmother's house, as a child, but stepped up into the modern world. One of the most readily recognized traits would be the floral print. Of course, it is by no means required, but it is very common to find patterned pillows, blankets or even couches in a home patterned after the vintage style. One of the best things about this sort of decor, is that many put it together from flee market and garage sale finds. Bargain, decrepit seeming shelves and cupboards, with distressed paint and lots of texture fit in perfectly as they are. Of course, there is always the option to add a pop of color by painting it, though aim for spring tones, because they really are the hallmark palette of a vintage home. If you like something stronger- a pop of primary color also does really well to stand out among the softer hues. Chandeliers and candle holders are perfect to light up a vintage room, be they repainted or a classic metal look. Both are directly out of the time that we are trying to recreate, so they fit in just right. Another very common part of the vintage style is the idea of not letting things go to waste. Many DIY vintage decorators use old glass bottles and jars to help liven up a room. They paint them in fun colors, hang them up and use as vases, and some even wrap them in string or burlap to give a more time appropriate texture. These can then be used to store anything, from buttons, to flowers, to votive candles, for a beautiful touch of variety.
Transitional is a very simplistic form of decor. It combines some of the common aspects of a more traditional decor with that carry a contemporary flair. The effect of combining the two is to make a classic, simplistic, timeless design that gives a very sophisticated flair to the whole room. Unlike most of the other decor options, this invites both curves and lines into its furnishings. But, there is a rather large limit to it, because this style of decor has almost no color at all. This is deliberate, because it will give a room a very clean, serene atmosphere. The one recommendation is to use a dark brown as a compliment to all the pale white, taupe, vanilla, and light grey. This will add a deeper touch that helps make the room more appealing, removing the risk of it beginning to feel clinical, with no color at all as contrast. Without color, the invitation is to compensate with all varieties of fabric and textures. Compliment a smooth textured chair with a rougher corduroy couch and a super soft blanket over the arm. Anything that creates a pleasing contrast. Another emphasis of this decor is simplicity. Decorations are minimal, and what is there is selected very carefully to create a sense of balance. The picture above is a great example of this. There is nothing truly extraneous here. A single plant in the center of the table creates a beautiful solo counterpoint, the pictures on either side of the mantle in balanced groups to create a sense of balance and harmony. The room pictures is as uncluttered as it could possibly be without feeling empty and bare. This is part of why it is such a clean and simplistic sort of design, and why it creates such a strikingly classic look with very little effort.