1. EMBRACE A NEUTRAL COLOR SCHEME
Don’t expect any jolts of color – transitional interiors lean heavily on neutral color schemes. Softer hues like creams, whites, beiges, taupes are applied across furniture and decor to create clean, calm, and collected environments. This is where the approach is similar to minimalism.
2. CREATE VISUAL INTEREST WITH MIXED TEXTURES
With so much talk of light and neutral palettes, you’d be right to worry about creating an altogether vanilla space. But one way to infuse visual interest while decorating with neutrals is to incorporate an array of texture: tactile materials in solid colors like boucle upholstery, linen drapes, or other soft accents (like a knitted throw or a velvet accent pillow).
3. PAIR TWO DIFFERENT STYLES OF FURNITURE TOGETHER
The most basic formula for transitional design is simple: combine furniture from two different eras. “If you purchase a table that feels more traditional, find items with cleaner or more simplistic lines to pair with it,” says Marianne Brown of Salt Lake City’s W Design Collective. “If you find a table that is all wood, find painted or upholstered dining chairs to pair with it.”
4. PLAY WITH LINES AND SILHOUETTES
As with rhythm in interior design, to find the right synergy between disparate styles, pay attention to lines and silhouettes. “Transitional design is all about the seamless balance between the traditional and the modern,” says Alicia Murphy, noting that ornate detailing found in classic design is usually ‘cleaned up’ in transitional interiors.
5. LESS IS DEFINITELY MORE
We know what you’re thinking: combining several interior styles in one space sounds an awful lot like eclectic style. But if there’s one trick that keeps transitional spaces in check, maintaining a certain level of minimalism offers the right balance. Think Scandinavian design as you keep your decor spare offers a clean slate as you bridge the gap between old and new styles.
6. A SOLID RUG CREATES A SOFT AND BALANCED BASE
An easy way to anchor your space in a simple, solid palette is to zero in on items with the most surface area – and there’s likely no bigger item in your space than an area rug. “A darker solid colored rug always creates a great foundation,” says Houston-based interior designer Meg Lonergan.
7. CREATE BALANCE WITH NEUTRAL CLASSICS
While you can pair accent pieces from different design eras, you can also reimagine timeless pieces with modern (read: neutral!) upholstery and finishes. “Classic pieces in neutrals are a great foundation for transitional design” says Houston interior designer Meg Lonergan. In this way, neutral finishes can simplify traditional details and silhouettes that otherwise might stick out.
8. PICK MUTED AND SUBDUED HUES
While we often see transitional style interiors in neutral palettes, a gentle use of color goes a long way. “Colors can work nicely with transitional design – it isn’t just about neutrals,” says Stefani Stein. “However, the color palette should be tonal, muted or more subdued; avoid bright pops or overly cheerful hues.”
9. LET A CONTEMPORARY FIXTURE LIGHT THE WAY
Especially when designing a space with historic architectural features (like an original fireplace, or classic millwork), you can look to contemporary fixtures to lighten the mood and decor.
10. THINK ABOUT YOUR ARCHITECTURE, TOO
If your home’s base layer leans classic (from exposed beams to traditional wood floors and crown molding) you have plenty of latitude to incorporate clean, modern detailing (from neutral painted millwork to furniture with seriously crisp lines).
11. AVOID PIECES THAT ARE TOO CLASSIC OR CONTEMPORARY, PERIOD
Of course, while you can balance two pieces of decor from extreme ends of the spectrum, it’s best to pick items with more common ground. "I would steer clear of anything that leans so strongly into a specific style that it looks out of place paired with pieces from other periods,” says Martha Mulholland. “A heavily carved and gilded rococo console may only mix well with a brightly colored Memphis Milano lamp at the hands of a seasoned decorator who has an adept ability to juxtapose periods.”