Understand the elements, colors and features you can use to get this popular look in any room.
Transitional style pairs the classic, time-tested appeal of a traditional look with the clean silhouettes and understated color palette of contemporary style. By avoiding the extremes of either style — like the elaborate scrolling and embellishments of traditional style or the most cutting-edge contemporary pieces — transitional style walks an elegant line between the two while carving its own distinct niche.
- Refined ease. It’s embracing comfort without sacrificing elegance — like the room equivalent of business casual.
- Updated classic. Imagine a slimmed-down wingback chair or marble counters paired with simple Shaker-style cabinets.
- Understated. In a transitional space, nothing jars the eye. The colors, patterns and textures play in harmony.
- Eclectic. Although transitional style does draw from two different style camps, it’s decidedly not all over the map. You may spot a few pieces from other styles, but for the most part, transitional spaces stick with traditional and contemporary elements.
- Trendy. Transitional style may incorporate a trend or two — if they seem to have some staying power — but the hot-right-now trends are not usually a big part of these timeless, elegant spaces.
- Overly ornamented. You won’t find much in the way of ornate millwork, elaborate trim or fussy photo frames in a transitional space. Ornamentation and embellishments are present but tend to be more restrained and carefully considered.
In transitional spaces, neutrals are not an afterthought. Whether you opt for cool or warm hues, the colors in a transitional space lean toward soft and subtle, not bright or high-contrast.
Great shades for transitional spaces:
- Warm neutrals. Cream, beige, taupe, chocolate
- Cool neutrals. Dove gray, silver, snow white
- Serene colors. Misty blue, dusty rose, blue-gray, soft sage green
Furniture with clean profiles and gentle curves strikes the right note. Look for updated traditional furniture shapes like slimmed-down wingback chairs, as shown here, and sofas with straight or gently curving sides. Solids make up the bulk of upholstery, with texture playing a larger role than pattern — think of rich velvet, nubby linen and a touch of nailhead trim. Patterns (when they do appear) are subtle and small-scale.