How to Create Transitional Style

What is transitional style?
I get asked this question from time to time and since much of my design work with Barbara Gilbert Interiors falls into that category, I thought I’d give you my take on transitional style for the home.
The transitional look is all about balance. It marries traditional style with contemporary elements to create a serene, sophisticated look that offers the best of both worlds.
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With the warmth and grounded feel of traditional elements and the clean lines and streamlined look of contemporary style, transitional spaces feel timeless, serene, and chic. I love it!
One of the biggest assets of a transitional home is that it doesn’t go out of style. Because it is about a blend, you can always update accessories, a piece of furniture, or paint to reflect a new trend.
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Here are some of the elements of transitional style:
Warm, neutral color palettes with pops of color

When I pick the color palettes for a home, I start with neutrals that feel serene and welcoming. And not just taupes, tans, and grays—muted blues and greens work beautifully, too. But too much neutral is boring, so I use color strategically: bright pops in accent pieces and accessories really stand out.

Clean, crisp lines

The clean lines of a transitional home give it a sculptural, artistic quality. There is nothing frilly, frou-frou, or overstuffed here. Furniture profiles are straightforward and crisp, and comfort rules: a transitional home should be cozy and welcoming.

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Less-is-more accessories

The streamlined air of a transitional home means lots of accessories or knick-knacks would look cluttered and out of place. I find that using fewer, well-chosen pieces has the most impact, particularly if they have strong lines.

Emphasis on natural light

Natural light is the best accessory for a transitional home, and the play of light and shadow adds a critical element to rooms. I like to frame windows with simple, elegant treatments, like Roman shades or fabric panels. This adds depth and visual interest to the room, without overpowering the overall design.transitional styletransitional styletransitional style

“Just enough” color, pattern, and texture

I love color, patterns, and texture, but in a transitional home, they need to somewhat restrained. The serene feel of a transitional room can be defeated by too much “busyness” in any of these three areas. The goal isn’t a flat, monochromatic look, but rather a soothing neutral palette with just enough color, pattern, and texture to create visual appeal and movement.

Harmonious feel

One of the most appealing aspects of transitional design is its harmonious, retreat-like feel. It is comfortable and warm, with subtle design elements that make it feel stylish and chic. Because this style is more streamlined, every piece in a room matters and should contribute to the unified whole.

The balance of traditional and contemporary elements in a transitional home makes it an exciting, wonderful design style for both houses and commercial spaces. It doesn’t go out of fashion and is easily updated for a fresh look. It’s also one of the most versatile design styles and offers almost infinite possibility in its combinations. I’d love to hear your comments on transitional design and what you love about it!
How to Create Timeless, Transitional Style | Barbara Gilbert Interiors