With dozens of interior design styles in existence—and new ones entering the zeitgeist everyday—transitional design offers a reprieve among more boxed-in, hard-and-fast decor styles. Often described as a mix between a more traditional style and modern design, the aesthetic blends formal, more ornate elements with relaxed touches to create a space that feels both classic and current. “Transitional design is the palate cleanser of all design styles,” says Jenn Feldman, a Los Angeles–based interior designer and founder of Jenn Feldman Designs, a listee on the AD PRO Directory. To better understand the style, AD spoke with Feldman as well as Directory member Ariel Okin, a New York–based interior designer, about the history and design elements that craft transitional interiors—as well as how to bring this timeless look into your house.
What is transitional design?
As noted, transitional design is generally defined as an interior style that combines modern style with traditional design. “Transitional spaces are defined by a tonal, textural, monochromatic, and minimal aesthetic,” Feldman says. Homes with this look often make use of comfortable, streamlined furniture; neutral color palettes (though pops of color are allowed); and ornate accents. For example, in a transitional home, you might find more linear furniture paired with a few pieces that bring in softer curves—like a circular ottoman. Some of the more embellished parts of traditional decor are there—for example, through an accent light fixture—though they’re more pared down compared to a classic traditional home.
It’s worth noting that designers may interpret the look differently—some may opt for more traditional while others embrace more modern—though the aesthetic could still be described as transitional no matter which way the scale tips.