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What is Transitional Style?

Transitional Interior Design

Transitional style could be seen as a ‘best of both worlds’ when it comes to decorating your home. Often referred to as ‘classic with a contemporary twist’ or ‘updated classic’, it melds traditional and contemporary styles of décor for a stylish yet comfortable home. Think classic shapes but with less ornamentation and chrome and glass worked in with all of the wood and you’re getting there. The look is unfussy yet timeless with clean lines and classic colours.

More so than contemporary furniture, transitional furnishings are designed very much for comfort and while key pieces will still be beautiful, they will be easy to enjoy and practical for everyday life. When it comes to interior design this balance of aesthetics and practicality is essential, making transitional style ideal for many family homes.

What are the key characteristics?

There are several key characteristics that can help you create a transitional style in your own interior design.


Materials are key, with natural finishes mixing with high gloss to achieve the classic-with-a-twist look. For soft furnishings, layer textures with durable fabrics mingling with plush fabrics with a luxe finish. Upholstered furniture should ideally be filled with down or goose feather to accentuate the comfort, and this can be contrasted with the rich woods such as mahogany and walnut, giving warm tones and a high gloss look.


The transitional style adopts contemporary décor’s penchant for minimalism and this extends to colour palettes which should be kept subtle and neutral. Monochromatic schemes are best, but featuring beiges and greys rather than the starker black and white. If you wish to add splashes of colour, these should be incorporated in ornaments and artwork so as to remain subtle and not pull the eye too much away from the classic style of the furnishings.


Shapes should combine curves and straight lines to balance the masculine and feminine aspects of the décor. Furniture should be of ample size but should not be oversized in order to keep the room comfortable and sophisticated.


These two should be kept simple to keep the minimalist tone. A simple potted orchid is ideal, or carefully chosen photographs in elegant silver and black frames. Nothing should be too over-the-top or stand out as not part of the scheme.


Top tips for achieving transitional style?

Sara Corker’s three top tips for achieving transitional style all come down to balance:

  • Balance the masculine and the feminine across the space with a mix of lines and materials.
  • Balance the practical and the luxury with a blend of textures. Key pieces such as sofas should use sophisticated yet practical fabrics, while soft furnishings such as cushions can adopt a more luxe feel.
  • Balance the classic and the contemporary. Carefully choose furnishings so that the room holds a mix of the two styles, otherwise it may become overpowered by one or the other.


If you would like to discuss your design project with an expert, you can contact Sara Corker Designs on 01883 742786 or email us.

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