Transitional Style: The Happy Medium

If you are considering a renovation or space redesign, it is important to know your design style. However, for some, it is a struggle…they may like traditional, have an eclectic flair, but gravitate to the clean lines of contemporary design. Here comes Transitional Style to the rescue. It is the happy medium between traditional and contemporary style. Let’s look at what Traditional Style is and how it can be the perfect fit for you.

Transitional Style Defined
According to HGTV, “Transitional Style is a marriage of traditional and contemporary furniture, finishes, materials and fabrics equating to a classic, timeless design. Furniture lines are simple yet sophisticated, featuring either straight lines or rounded profiles. Fabric is as diverse as graphic patterns on overstuffed sofas and textured chenilles on sleek wood frames.”

Transitional Style avoids the most extreme styles of traditional and contemporary styles…no traditional embellishments and elaborate scrolling or very modern contemporary lines. Transitional style sits elegantly between the two extremes in its own ideal position. It is comfortable, yet elegant; classic with an updated twist; and soft and harmonious.
The foundation of Transitional Style consists of neutral hues incorporating furniture that is practical and refined with a few key accessories to highlight the space.
Color palettes, whether warm or cool, are easy on the eye and evoke a sense of serenity and peacefulness. Colors include beige, cream, and soft whites, grays, blues, green, and silvers,

Painting the walls these neutral hues sets the tone for the furniture selections. Look for furniture pieces that have graceful form; such as slender wingback chairs and clean-lined sofas and sectionals. Most Transitional Style furniture is made up of solid upholstery fabric whereby texture is king. Look for furniture upholstered in rich velvet, or nubby linen, which is the perfect family and pet friendly upholstery fabric. Now add a slight touch of nailhead trim and voilà, your furniture will evoke sophistication and warmth. Note: If you like patterns, they should be understated and scaled down.

Finally, the devil is in the details. Transitional Style is not overdone or grossly understated. Adding accessory pieces should be chosen with care. Look for simply framed contemporary artwork, a luxurious throw, and window treatments like Roman or roller shades or draperies in soft colors. Carefully choose a few accessories that speak to you and bring the space together.
Transitional Style can be brought throughout a house. For example, into a kitchen or a bathroom.

Kitchens should be simple and inviting with wide appeal. For those of you who have partners with opposite styles, a Transitional Style kitchen is the perfect compromise. Sophisticated finishes with a hint of adornment satisfy the traditional design lover, while the clean lines and peaceful range of colors speak to the contemporary style lover.
Transitional kitchens will have shaker cabinets, neutral hues, countertops of quartz or marble, wood flooring, and possibly a butcher-block island. Backsplashes should be in neutral hues and in a subway, mosaic, hexagon or fish-scale pattern. Counter or bar stools are one item in the kitchen that can go more contemporary or have an updated traditional feel.

Bathrooms, like kitchens, have similar features that again, give off a classic and sleek appeal. Shaker-style works well in a vanity, too. That coupled with neutral hues in a subway tile or even in stone mosaics are a great combination. Now add a glass shower, preferably, a zero-entry glass shower, and a freestanding bathtub for more clean lines. Finish off the bathroom with sophisticated lighting. This bathroom will feel as clean and fresh as you do after taking a shower. Ahh, and so spa-like, you’ll never want to leave.

Transitional Style’s subtle, yet sophisticated fair, makes for a home that gives off a sense of calm in the chaos, order in the haphazard, and refinement in the recklessness. It takes you to a place that renders all the stresses of the day null and void.

Comments 9

  1. Leslie Carothers

    What a lovely description of transitional style, Donna. It’s so difficult for most people to understand the differences between traditional, transitional, modern and contemporary design styles so thank you for explaining it so well.

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      Susan Hagaman

      Thank you for your comments, Leslie. We thought this a good topic to clarify with our readers since we get many customers who don’t understand Transitional Style.

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      Susan Hagaman

      It is a style that has clear characteristics but can be difficult to capture. We are grateful for your comments, Lisa, thank you.

  2. Janet Lorusso

    Classic and timeless is ALWAYS a smart style choice – especially with more permanent, difficult to change selections like tile! And transitional (or new traditional) is a safe bet every time 🙂

  3. Sheri Bruneau

    Donna, this is a great description of transitional. Many of my clients fall in this category and I’m in my comfort zone with it. I agree with Janet’s comment above – classic and timeless is a smart style choice!

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