Decor Styles and How To Master Them

Ever wonder what the differences are between certain decor styles? Do you want to know just how to decorate in those styles? Well, now is your chance as I break down the key characteristics of six fundamental decor styles that will have anyone decorating like a pro!

Decor Styles

Everyone has their own decor style, whether they are a decorator or not. No matter what, though, most personal styles in some way, shape, or form tend to fall under one of six fundamental decor styles: Casual, Formal, Traditional, Country, Eclectic, and Contemporary. These six styles have grown in recent years, with changing times and personalities, to include new features, for instance Country can include a Farmhouse look as well as a Shabby Chic style while Contemporary can sometimes be replaced by Modern and Mid-Century. Either way, decor still tends to fall under one of these six categories and their key characteristics have remained unchanged.

Decor Style 1: Casual

Key Characteristics:

  • Comfort is #1 priority
    Furniture used in Casual style rooms tends to be very comfortable, yet functional as well. Everything has a purpose. Any seating is commonly large scale and while they are kept simple ( meaning no fringe, dramatic patterns, etc ) seating will tend to look very inviting. You'll just want to curl up and get cozy.
  • Informal floor plans
    In terms of room layout, Casual rooms tend to me done in an asymmetrical plan, making them appear informal and more relaxed ( hence the name, Casual ). Also, creating horizontal lines ( through large, and long furniture and lack of tall items / decor high up on walls ) throughout the room is a common technique to give the eye something to rest on and add to the informal and relaxed atmosphere.
  • Simple color palettes
    Any color can be used within a Casual room, however neutral colors ( i.e. tans, greys, etc ) have been most commonly used.
  • Easy to maintain
    Casual rooms are typically easy to maintain. Any upholstery is done with durable and easy to clean materials.

Decor Style 2: Formal

Key Characteristics:

  • Complete opposite of Casual
    Formal style rooms tend to have ornate and impressive features, such as a delicately carved fireplace, and tend to arrange furniture and accessories in a way to make those features the focal point of the room.
  • Symmetry plays a huge role
    Furniture arrangements are typically done in a completely symmetrical layout emphasizing the formal atmosphere within the room. Furniture and decor accessories are commonly laid out in matched pairs as well ( i.e. matching candlesticks on either side of a mantle or matching accent chairs on either side of a sofa ). Due to the symmetry, Formal rooms come across very orderly with a clean design.
  • Vertical lines are perfect
    Typically, vertical lines ( such as tall plants or floor-to-ceiling drapery ) are used in formal room to draw the eye up. This is especially important when used in rooms that feature high ceilings. Vertical lines will naturally guide your sight to the impressive height.
  • Details, details, details
    These are of the utmost importance. Design and decor choices such as ornate moldings, door and window trims, crystal / antique accessories, fringes / tassels, and polished woods for surfaces are very common in a Formal style room. Fabrics can consist of intricate brocades, velvet, silk, and any other material that is considered to be impressive and lush.

Decor Style 3: Traditional

Key Characteristics:

  • Some aspects of Formal
    Traditional style rooms feature some of the same characteristics of Formal rooms. They make use of vertical lines to draw the eye up, symmetry is commonly used for furniture and matched set accessory arrangements, and moldings and trims are quite common.
  • A mix of Casual
    Here is where the Traditional and Formal decor styles differ. Traditional rooms will also incorporate some Casual details in order to "tone down" the formality. While moldings and trims are still used, they are not intricately carved in the way they would be for a Formal room and textures are kept simple. Traditional rooms are, therefore, still quite elegant, but with a calm and more relaxed atmosphere than Formal rooms.

Decor Style 4: Country

Key Characteristics:

  • Nature is important
    Almost all aspect of Country style rooms are directly related to things found in nature, from the materials used used to the color palettes chosen. Country color palettes often consist of warm yellows, greens, browns, and blues. Any fabrics used, whether on upholstery or drapery, will typically have prints consisting of animals, plants, or flowers on them. Stripes and plaids are also often used.
  • Distinct wood
    Wood is most often left in it's natural state or aged, painted, and / or distressed giving it an informal and rustic vibe. Carved wood is also quite characteristic of Country style rooms. Stone, brick, and clay are common building and decorative materials as well.
  • Quirky accessories
    Accessories used in Country style rooms are pretty unique. They can be anything from ceramic farm animals to items commonly found in a barn, such as glass jugs, barrels, and clay pots. Country rooms can be heavily accessorized giving them a certain warmth and coziness.

Decor Style 5: Eclectic

Key Characteristics:

  • Always changing
    The Eclectic style is a combination of characteristics of at least two different decor styles. The styles that are combined are chosen completely out of personal choice making this style one that is unpredictable, but always fun.
  • Tricky to get right
    You do have to make sure to choose styles that harmonize with one another and do not clash in order to create a look that is not chaotic. Considering that this style tends to be generous in terms of accessories, it can be easy for an Eclectic room to become overwhelming when not done right.
  • Great character
    Vintage pieces go very well with the Eclectic style.

Decor Style 6: Contemporary

Key Characteristics:

  • Sleek appeal
    Furniture and accessories used in Contemporary rooms tend to create crisp, clean lines. While furniture is typically larger in scale, space is always taken into account. Each piece of furniture should have the ability to be seen and appreciated on its own.
  • High contrast palettes
    The use of black and white color combinations are pretty common in Contemporary rooms. Pastels are avoided and instead bold and distinct colors will be used.
  • Distinct materials
    Surfaces are often made of glass, stone, or metal giving a high sheen, yet clean and smooth look to the overall aesthetic of the room. This also adds to the high contrast of the Contemporary style.
Decor Styles and How To Master Them

What's your decor style like?

I'd love to know all about it. Share in the comments below!

Happy Decorating

43 thoughts on “Decor Styles and How To Master Them

  1. I love all of these styles! I think my favorite is country. It just feels so homey to me! Minus the animals lol I like things looking country without being country lol

  2. I love how you broke down the different styles, Victoria! I’m having trouble picking one I love and I realize… I’m probably a mixture of formal and contemporary (with some of eclectic thrown in). I love hollywood glam, but love throwing other fun things into the mix. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Hollywood glam is such a great style! I definitely think that you can mix formal and contemporary, and since you are mixing the two it will already be considered eclectic. Just be sure to mix the styles in a way that sticks to Hollywood Glam. You would probably want to stay away from wood furnishings, but if they are a must aim for light painted wood in whites, grey, or blues.

    1. It always helps to decide what style your home is already built in. For instance, you wouldn’t want to put traditional furniture into a contemporary home. Feel free to send me a picture if you want any help determining the style of your home.

  3. All these decos are super pretty, especially the last, that should be my favorite here.
    And I do agree with the point of comfort being key, it’s really important that whatever you’re getting suits your needs and wants.

  4. Neutral color schemes are my favorite! The house that we are renting right now had tons of deep warm tones, and all I want in life are some grays and whites. 🙂

    1. Yes! Haha I am the same way. My favorite color schemes are ones that are mostly neutrals with a pop of color. This way I can change out that color often ( which I do ) and change up the look without breaking the bank!

    1. I got a bit picky with which pictures to use because I wanted them to absolutely convey one style over the other. Fun fact though, midcentury modern and eclectic go perfectly hand in hand. A lot of times people chose modern for their larger furniture and then decorative items in a second style to accent them.

  5. I am definitely in the casual category. With 5 kids its just what works. Although I would love to move into more formal furniture and decor as they grow up. I loved your tips and the images were really helpful.

    1. I would actually suggest decorating in the Traditional style. It is a mix of both casual and formal. It will allow you to decorate with casual furniture for the time being and it won’t be a stretch to switch it out for more formal furnishings once the kids are older. Best of both worlds for sure!

  6. Bless you for this post. My fiance and I are currently house hunting for our first home together and the thought of FINALLY decorating our home with real furniture (not Craig’s List college furniture) in our own house (not an apartment or house we are renting) that we are staying in for at least a handful of years (not 1-2 years at a time). I’m a Country girl it appears 🙂

    1. How exciting! Congratulations on the new home and beginning a new journey! Country style is such a cozy and homey style. It will turn out great! Let me know if you ever need any pointers, I will be glad to help!

    1. Try decorating in styles that are either similar to casual or can use casual to achieve them, like Traditional and Eclectic. That way it won’t be much of a stretch for your usual tastes and you can change things up a bit!

  7. Hi Coco! I love all of these looks! I have a teal cozy look in my home now and am planning to use a yellow/gray bright look in my downstairs of the new house and red/warm look upstairs. Can’t wait to start decorating!

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