Home Decor Styles 101 (with a List of Decorating Styles Explained)


With so many home decorating styles to choose from, it can be difficult to find your unique decor style and decorate your home in a way that feels right for you. Decorating decisions can be overwhelming because there so many options to choose from, but knowing your home decor style is essential to creating a home color palette, making (often expensive) furniture purchases, and adding personal touches to your decorating style to make your home feel like you.

Knowing what makes each of the different home decor styles unique will help you define your own decorating style, so today I'm going to teach you the different types of home decor styles, what makes each one unique, and show you example photos. Then I'll get you started on finding your own decorating style. Sound good?

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Decor Defined: What Is Home Decor?

The definition of home decor is "items (decorations) that make your home look nice." But let's take this home decor defintion a bit further shall we?

Yes, home decor, when done well, can make your home look nice but it can also allow your home to function really well and serve the people who live in it well. I truly believe when your home looks nice AND functions well you will feel good and be able to show up in a way you are proud of.

Why You Need To Know About The Different Types Of Home Decor Styles

Each decor style has decor elements that make it unique; it is important to be able to recognize them when making decorating decisions so you can stick to your decor style and create a cohesive home style design throughout your home.

Knowing about different styles of home decor will:

  • Help you create a cohesive look.
  • Allow you to make quick decorating decisions.
  • Make it obvious what to avoid (reducing the number of decisions and the overwhelm related to home decorating.)
  • Save you from wasting time and money.

A Few Home Decor Style Tips Before We Dive In

  • You don't have to stick to just one decorating style. Think of your house decor style like you would your personality. There isn't just one aspect of your personality, there are different parts of you to know. Your home decor should follow the same guidelines and include different types of decorating styles that say something about who you are. I suggest you include elements of about 3 decor styles.
  • Your home decor styles will change over time as you change. This can be something that holds people back from investing in their decor, but I promise knowing your decor style will allow you to make smart decorating decisions that will last for years to come.
  • There are a few rules for decorating that will help you get started, but all decorating rules can be broken.

3 Main Home Decor Styles Explained

Although there are many different styles of home decor, they are all variations and/or combinations of just three different types of decorating styles.

First let's go through these three main types of home decor before getting into a list of popular decorating styles so you can see how they are jumping off points for all other decor styles.

Traditional Home Decor (Or Classic Decor)

Traditional decor has a lot of details that make it feel elevated or fancy.

What to look for to add traditional style to your home:

  • Furniture with curves like rolled sofa arms, tufting, and curved legs on tables
  • Floral or organic patterns which mimic those same curves.
  • Items are typically placed in pairs like matching table lamps on either side of the sofa.
  • A muted or soft color palette.
  • **The classic end of the spectrum typically includes a lot of dark wood tones and can read more masculine.
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Modern Home Decor

In modern home decor you’ll find a lot of clean lines and not a lot of detail. A modern decorating style is often thought of as a more minimalistic style but don't worry, if that isn't your cup of tea you can still add some modern elements to update your space but still keep it inviting. You'll see how as we move through some of today's most popular decorating styles below.

What to look for to add modern decorating style to your home:

  • Minimal use of texture.
  • Asymmetrical layout.
  • Limited use of accessories (think minimalism).
  • Use of graphic patterns with clean lines.
  • Contrasting color palette between light and dark colors.

Rustic Home Decor

Rustic style decor includes a lot of texture and nods to unfinished or raw materials. The range of rustic decor is vast going from a rustic cabin feel to a more refined country cottage feel. Either way, the use of raw materials is what makes this decorating style unique.

What to look for to add a rustic decor style to your home:

  • Tons of texture: wood, stone, metal.
  • Exposed elements like wiring, pipes, brick walls, and beams.
  • Non-functional re-purposed items used as decorative accessories or features.

Those are the three main decorating styles from which almost all other types of home decorating styles come. Like everything related to style, styles of home decorating come and go but when they are based in these three styles they can be timeless and evolve with you over time.

In my online DIY decorating course, Style Your Way Home, you'll learn the key steps to defining your own unique decorating style and how to infuse trends for a current look with timeless decorating choices that will last for years to come - because starting from scratch isn't an option for your time or your wallet.

Let's take a look at some current home decorating styles and see which ones appeal to you.

Calling all DIY decorators!!! I promise decorating doesn’t have to be so overwhelming and time consuming. In my free on-demand decorating class I’ll teach you 3 easy steps to decorate any room in your home. >> Get instant access here.

Like I mentioned there are tons of home decor styles, each a little or a lot different from the next. But the three main home decor style types above are the inspiration behind today's most common decorating styles. You'll see what I mean as you go through this decorating styles list.

Transitional Home Decor or Contemporary Home Decor

Translational decor has a lot of the same characteristics of traditional decor but with a modern twist. The details evident in traditional home decor such as mouldings are done in a more simplified way to tie into the clean lines of modern design.

Transitional and contemporary are often used interchangeably, however contemporary may be thought of as a little more modern than transitional. Both mix traditional and modern design together for a fresh and current look.

How to add transitional or contemporary style to your decor:

  • Mouldings and cabinetry with some detail but not too intricate.

Farmhouse Style Decor

Farmhouse style decor has become very popular in recent years and for good reason. A farmhouse style encompasses the comfort of country or rustic style but in a more modern and elevated or sophisticated way.

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via HGTV
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How to add farmhouse style to your decor:

  • Use a contrasting farmhouse color palette with deep shades of black, brown, or gray with light colors like white or cream.
  • Use contrasting materials like modern marble or quartz with more rustic materials like brass, wood, and stone.
  • Display items that appear old or handmade next to items that are more modern.
  • Choose lighting fixtures and hardware with curves instead of straight lines.

Industrial Style Decor

Industrial decor is known for its bare bones approach to decor and definitely draws from both modern and rustic style of decorating. Instead of covering up utilities like duct work and cords, or walls made of brick, stone, or concrete, they are left exposed.

How to add industrial style to your decor:

  • Keep items like pipes, air ducts, wire, beams, and brick exposed.
  • Select furniture and decor that is blocky or square in shape and made of metal, wood, leather, and even salvaged parts.
  • Select items with lean lines but keep the materials or surfaces imperfect.
  • Opt for open windows and openings without window treatments.
  • Keep your color palette neutral with both light and dark colors to create a lot of contrast.

Bohemian Style Decor (aka Boho Style Decor)

Boho style home decor draws from both modern and rustic decorating styles and is more of a maximalist approach to decorating but not in a way that seems cluttered. Instead furniture and decor is laid out intentionally but layered for a full look.

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Justina Blakeney Boho Kitchen

How to add boho style to your decor:

  • Use multicultural textiles, art, and patterns.
  • Select a color palette that has bold but deep colors such as reds, yellows, and oranges.
  • Use multiple bold, colorful patterns.
  • Layer in a lot of woven textures.
  • Use a lot of plants.

Mid Century Modern Decor

It's obvious that a mid century modern decorating style draws a lot from modern style decor with its clean lines and geometric patterns, but instead of using a lot of man made materials like metal, acrylic, or shiny surfaces found in ultra modern design, it leans more toward rich wood tones and less clean lines while remaining simple in design.

How to add mid century style to your decor:

  • Select furniture that focuses on function.
  • Use a lot of warm wood tones.
  • Select items with simple lines both straight and with some curves.
  • Use graphic patterns that repeat.

Scandinavian Decor

Scandinavian decor is similar to mid century modern decor in that furniture pieces are often simple in design; however furniture often has a lower profile (lower to the ground) and uses lighter wood tones and comfortable materials like linen.

How to add Scandinavian style to your decor:

  • Select low profile (low to the ground) furniture.
  • Use a lot of natural elements like wood, baskets, and natural fibers in a light tone.
  • Use plants as a focal point.
  • Keep wall art to a minimum.

Coastal Decor (aka Modern Coastal Decor)

A coastal decorating style can range from very traditional to more modern and everywhere in between. The main focus of coastal decor is to pull inspiration from the water's edge and the items you select will depend on if you prefer waterfront scenarios such as beaches and tropical locations, or boating and fishing.

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Modern Coastal Living Room via Making Home Base

How to add coastal style to your decor:

  • Use various shades of blues, greens, and a mix of the two.
  • Keep a lot of the visual space light and airy.
  • Use materials or imagery related to the waterfront (sea glass, rope, water, boats.)
  • Select decor with natural materials or sand color tones.

French Country Decor

A French country decorating style blends the elegance of traditional decor with the coziness of a more rustic style. It is often thought of as more feminine than masculine because of its use of details and curves.

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French Country Bedroom via Better With Age

How to add French country style to your decor:

  • Select furniture with details and curves like curved legs and tufting.
  • Use fabrics in light neutral shades made from soft natural fibers.
  • Mix wood tones to bring warmth to the space.
  • Keep the overall color palette light and neutral.

Cottage Style Decor

A cottage decorating style blends traditional, vintage, shabby chic, and rustic styles together. Items feel unique and like the space was collected over time.

How to add cottage style to your decor:

  • Select items with imperfections that seem worn and have a history.
  • Keep the color palette light and airy while adding colorful elements as well.
  • Select furniture that has the lines of traditional decor or rustic decor.
  • Mix painted (often chipped) furniture with more rustic pieces.
  • Have items that get used often (blankets, plates and cups, books) on display.
  • Use feminine patterns like florals.

Defining Your Home Decorating Styles

Ok. So now you’re probably thinking, “Corey, there are elements to each one of those that I like.” I totally get it. Me too!

Using what you now know about the styles of home decorating, go back to the steps we covered when discovering your home decor style and see if what you are drawn to or lean toward one of these different decorating styles. Keep in mind that there are definite variations and degrees of each style.

Focus on the elements that I listed for you under each style and see which of those elements pops up most frequently in what you collected or in your favorite room.

Calling all DIY decorators!!! I promise decorating doesn’t have to be so overwhelming and time consuming. In my free on-demand decorating class I’ll teach you 3 easy steps to decorate any room in your home. >> Get instant access here.

Your Personal Home Decor Style Definition

You can and SHOULD have more than one decorating style present in your home decor style because layering in these different decorating styles is what makes a space feel interesting and complete.

It also allows your style to evolve over time because you aren't glued to one specific decor style.

To get you started in defining your decorating style, start with:

  • The feeling you want the space to have
  • The main decor style (from above) you were drawn to the most
  • The runner up decor style from above or your significant other’s winner

From there you'll want to mix these different decorating styles together intentionally for a pulled together and cohesive look. We deep dive into this process inside my DIY decorating course.

Ready to create a home that feels like you without the overwhelm?

Inside my course, Style Your Way Home, I'll teach you my step-by-step approach to discovering your unique design style and how to incorporate all the styles you love into your own home design plan. Plus, you'll learn my simple 4 step process to to apply your decor plan to any room in your home so you can make quick and confident decisions and create a home that feels like YOU.