The Quick Guide to Every Major Decorating Style

Mid-century modern designed living room with tufted couch in front of dining room

The Spruce / Christopher Lee Foto

The fun of design is in the infinite number of possibilities that every room holds. As people in different places and times have come to agree (more or less) on what is and isn't a good look, numerous design styles have emerged until now there is a look for every home, every life and every eye. But there are those which continue to stand out, whether because they are so easily updated to remain modern or because they're so timeless that they just never seem to go completely out of style. But for a quick introduction to the major design motifs, here's our top 10 design styles. 

  • 01 of 10

    Modern Farmhouse Style

    A modern farmhouse style living room

    A lot of people wouldn't expect farmhouse style to top a list like this, and that's exactly why it's here. Intentionally rustic and a bit old fashioned, modern farmhouse style stands at that perfect intersection of timelessness and easily updateable style. It's core elements, exposed wood beams, brick fireplaces and rough hewn surfaces have an irresistible charm that never completely fades. In fact it's precisely those elements that make farmhouse style so easy to bring into a modern aesthetic. This room contains all of the classic farmhouse elements that give it that earthy feel the style is famous for. All it takes to put a modern edge on the space is a geometric Moroccan rug and a modern standing lamp. The patterned brick interior of the fireplace is another nice touch that lends a contemporary air to this rustic space.

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  • 02 of 10

    Mid-century Modern Style

    A mid-century modern dining room
    Studio Mcgee

    Even as we draw close to the end of the first two decades of the 21st century, mid-century modern style continues to be one of the most popular ways to decorate a room. Developed, as the name implies, toward the middle decades of the 1900s, the style was a minimalist turn away from the ostentation that characterized the Art Deco period that preceded it. Pioneered by such luminaries as Ray and Charles Eames, mid-century modern is more than a design style as it also encompasses a number of unique furniture styles that are associated with the style, including the iconic Eames Lounge.

    In this lovely dining room the table and chairs, and even the console in the far corner all belong to the mid-century period. Streamlined pieces in warm wood tones and an understated aesthetic characterize this style, which shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.

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  • 03 of 10

    French Country Style

    French Country style living room
    How to Decorate

    An undoubtedly more traditional approach to interior design, the French Country style continues to charm homeowners with its elegance and style. Another rustic style, this time from the country hills of France, the style is characterized by it's ornamental flourishes—particularly in the lighting—traditional patterns and willingness to embrace asymmetry in the form of mismatched furniture and rough, textured areas. Several of those elements come to life in this room, from the traditional rug pattern to the mismatch furniture and the ornamental piece above the fireplace.

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  • 04 of 10

    Industrial Style

    Industrial style kitchen/dining room

    Industrial design is typified by raw surfaces like exposed brick and iron work, stone or concrete floors, and an open-plan approach to spaces. The fun of industrial design is in finding the sophisticated side of these raw spaces. Here, it comes in the form of the subtle juxtaposition of textures between the stone floors, brick walls and exposed wooden supports. At the bar, a smooth, straight-edged, stone bar top is accompanied by classic-looking bar stools with curved metal legs and wood tops. As a finishing touch, the large bouquet of flowers on the dining room table soften the space just enough to keep it from feeling too moody.

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  • 05 of 10

    Mediterranean Style

    A mediterranean style bedroom
    Icon's Corner

    Mediterranean style is perfect for anyone who enjoys ornamentation without ostentation or enjoys a relaxed style that borders on minimalism but keeps a few flourishes. From a color perspective, it's important to remember that mediterranean is essentially a beach style, so you can expect to use a lot of blues and browns as the sun, sea and sand are the main influences. The combination of warm and cool colors creates a relaxing balance however which gives these spaces a laid back, resort-like feel.

    In this bedroom, those colors set the tone. Natural materials—like the jute rug—with a handmade feel and strong patterns on the bedding and headboard round out the style. The biggest mistake to avoid when embracing this style however is to assume that the mediterranean includes only Southern Europe when in fact the mediterranean sea touches on Africa from Morocco to Egypt as well as several points in the Middle East, so the range of cultural influences to draw from is vast, helping to ensure a worldly, sophisticated look for your space.  

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  • 06 of 10

    Art Deco Style

    Art deco entryway
    Realty Times

    For anyone who loves the Jazz Age, the roaring 20s or the books of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Art Deco just might be the style for you. Short for Arts Decoratifs, the style was created as a reaction to the boom of prosperity that the US experienced at the turn of the 20th century. It lasted through the Great Depression before giving way to what would eventually be termed mid-century modern style.

    At it's height, the Art Deco style was a wonder to behold. It encompassed not only interior design but architecture, painting and sculpture as well. But Art Deco isn't just for looking backwards. This entryway is a beautiful example of Art Deco at its best: bold geometric patterns cover nearly every surface of the room accented by elaborate lighting features, innovative furniture designs and lots of metallics—especially gold. While it was eventually denounced as being overly ostentatious—an understandable sentiment following a massive depression bookended by a set of world wars—it remains one of the worlds great iconic moments of art and design.

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  • 07 of 10

    Modern Japanese Design

    Modern Japanese-style sitting room
    Site House

    Many of the elements that typify traditional Japanese design have become emblematic of modern U.S. design as well. Among them are a tendency towards minimalism, an appreciation of streamlined furnishings and the inclusion of natural elements, from stoneware to standing plants. This room displays the sense of minimalism and quiet serenity that is the hallmark of a Japanese approach to decor.

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  • 08 of 10

    U.S. Beach Style

    Beach style living room
    Ruby Deco

    As with Mediterranean style, the main influence on this style is the beach itself. So the blue shades of sky and surf are likely to be found alongside the varying neutral tones of different kinds of sand. Where U.S. beach style diverges is in the cultural references that make up the details of the room. As this room shows, the ornate tile patterns and handmade furnishings of Mediterranean style are replaced by Thomas Chippendale chairs and colorful pillows (although the blue Greek key pillow is technically sporting a Mediterranean pattern).   

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  • 09 of 10

    Vintage Style

    Vintage style dining room
    Our Vintage Nest

    Vintage style is exactly what it sounds like—an eclectic combination of vintage and antique pieces that creates a comfortable, homey feel. This dining room is a perfect example of a nostalgic, vintage space, right down to the mismatched seating around the table, the antique chandelier and the old fashioned affirmation artwork hanging on the wall. 

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  • 10 of 10

    Global Style

    Global living room

    Global style can be a little tricky. Where it is often confused for boho style or simply eclectic styles in which a variety of disparate pieces are put together in a single room, creating a truly global room requires a more thoughtful interaction with culture to create rooms with a story to tell. Because a global space can be so many things, it's difficult to pin the style down to just a few key elements. To avoid cultural appropriation, the context and significance of pieces need to be considered when using elements from other cultures, and there should be some care taken when choosing items, to ensure ethical and affordable sourcing.

    However, this living room does a good job of encompassing some of the most prevalent. The first is an embrace of color and pattern as seen in the rugs and pillows. An emphasis on textiles is also a common element of global spaces. But the most important aspect is always the blending of cultures as that is the element that makes a room truly global. In this space, a Moroccan pouf sits alongside a couch filled with pillows in Chinese Hmong and Suzani patterns. Topping it all is a gallery wall of frames etched in Kuba and Ndop patterns.