Interior Design: Major Design Styles Throughout History

Interior designers must be knowledgeable about the many different design styles that have been used throughout history. Understanding these styles not only helps designers develop their own unique styles, it also helps them deliver the expertise their clients expect.

Article overview:

  • The importance of learning about influential design styles throughout history

  • Major design styles and influences

Throughout history, architects and designers have created spaces based on influences from their cultures, environments, and history. A successful interior designer should have at least a broad knowledge of major design styles and of elements that are common in each of those styles.

Many design styles overlap and can be interchanged, such as Arts & Crafts and Craftsman styles. Other styles are completely unique from one another, such as Fifties style and Modern style. However, every design style addresses the full spectrum of design that you need to be familiar with, including architecture, furniture, colors, flooring, windows, accessories, and much more.

The importance of studying styles
A style of design addresses:
  1. architecture

  2. furniture

  3. colors

  4. flooring

  5. windows

  6. accessories

  7. much more

By studying influential and popular design styles, designers can not only get a broad understanding of how different elements of design have evolved over time, but can also begin to refine their own design styles. For example, some designers specialize in modern design, while others take on a more traditional Georgian style.

No matter what type of design career you wish to have, it is important to understand these different styles, and to be able to incorporate elements of any of these styles if a project requires it. Your clients will depend on you for your expertise and in-depth knowledge of the design field. By studying major design styles, you can prove to your clients that they have selected the right designer for their project and you can deliver results they expect.

Remember: there are dozens of major design styles, many of which are included in this article, but each designer should develop his or her own unique style. Major design styles influence a designer's unique style.

Major interior design styles and influences:
The following material provides a very brief overview of major design styles, and elements that are incorporated into each of these styles. As you progress in your study of interior design, you will not only learn in-depth details about the influences for each of these styles, you will also learn more about specific aspects of these styles, including common furniture manufacturers and pieces, period accessories, popular artwork and wallpaper, and more.
Keep in mind, there are dozens of interior design styles.
Adam – Named for Robert Adam, an 18th century British architect. Adam style is a new twist on neoclassical design that features elements of grace and delicacy. This style features the oval shape on fixtures, such as drawer pulls, and focuses heavily on decorative ornamentation. Adam decorated his interiors with medallions, ribbons, scrolls, garlands, delicately painted elements. The Adam style is also known for its balanced proportions. The Adam style incorporates a wide variety of other styles from around the world, including Byzantine, Italian Baroque, and Etruscan influences. Adam-style colors feature shades of white and blue, as well as intricately painted scenes and still-life images.

Furniture reflecting the Adam style includes Hepplewhite, Chippendale, and Thomas Sheraton. Adam-style furniture reflects the ornamentation of the interior space and may include lyres, urns, medallions, and wheat.

Adam style was popular from the 1790s to the 1830s. Adam style is known in America as the Federal style. Examples:

Adirondack – Adirondack style is also known as Smokey Mountain, Americana, and American Country style. This style is a throw-back to the days when America was laid out with winding roads, expansive farms, barns, and country living. This style is often associated with the use of classic American artifacts from 200 years ago to the present, including cast-iron pots, wood-burning stoves, knotty pine furniture, and homemade accessories.

In many cases, Adirondack style features accessories like old-fashioned copper or cast-iron cookware, old farming tools, vintage appliances, antique quilts, manual sewing machines, and even animal racks. The Americana style, in particular, often features American flag and American flag-inspired décor that includes stars and stripes.

American flag-themed and American history-themed artwork is also common in this style. Décor may include artifacts, such as antique household appliances or tools, antique dolls, or old pieces of farm machinery, for example.

From a furnishings standpoint, this style is basic and functional. In addition to knotty pine furniture, basic painted pieces are also common. Classic antique American furniture is also common, such as pot belly stoves, tin-fronted hutches, and simple four-post beds. Furniture is often either Shaker or Pennsylvania Dutch style. Examples

Americana see Adirondack
American Country - see Adirondack Art Deco – Art Deco style is characterized by streamlined shapes, and clean, angular lines. Art Deco colors are bold and modern. This particular style was popular after World War I. In the same way that the interior design