Design Style Guide: Transitional

Transitional style living room example interior design style guide

This month’s Design Style Guide is focusing on Transitional – my personal favorite and the one I use in my own home. Read on for all the details:


A distinctly 21st Century style, Transitional is hot with older millennials wanting a more sophisticated look for their home. Transitional is perfect for this generation – it combines their love of vintage style with their desire to put their own twist on things. And that’s exactly what Transitional is – putting a contemporary spin on classic designs. Transitional is one of the few styles that results in spaces that are both masculine and feminine – perfect for couples struggling to combine their styles.


There isn’t much of a history to this style, as it’s still new in terms of the entire history of design. The word Transitional was first used as a style name around 2010. There has always been a combining of styles that happens in design – however the distinct look of Transitional began in the early 2000’s and truly took hold in the 2010’s.Interior design guide to transitional style timeline of popularity

Spot the Style

Transitional takes the overly ornate furniture and patterns of the classic traditional styles (think Victorian and Art Deco) and strips away the stuffiness. Think tufted sofas with sleek lines, classic patterns that are oversized, and wingback chairs with a little less “wing” to them.

Transitional style is known for neutral color palettes that are accented with pops of bold colors. Where Victorian embraced very dark, heavy wood pieces, Transitional combines different types and finishes of wood and goes for light, delicate furniture. Traditional styles called for endless accessorizing, but Transitional focuses on a few thoughtful pieces, placing value on the impact of negative space.


Barbara Barry is the mother of Transitional. She was one of the first designers to take traditional furniture shapes, soften them with a more contemporary feel, and create that classic Transitional look that seems to have universal appeal. Everything you need to know about Transitional you can learn from studying a Barbara Barry room.

Where to Shop

Concept board for interior design Transitional style

1. Millicent Gray Linen Arm Chair from Baxton Studio

2. Polished Nickel Chandelier from Possini Euro Florien

3. Brandt Buffet from Ethan Allen

4. Imperial Trellis II Wallpaper from Schumacher

5. Egyptian Lattice Fabric in Ocean from Fabricut

6. Cheerful Paint from Sherwin Williams

7. Star Mirror by Barbara Barry from Baker Furniture

8. Safavieh Florida Shag Scrollwork Rug from Overstock

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