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Nebraska Furniture Mart | January 20, 2019

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Transitional Style 101

Natalie Massie

Are you confused on what your design style is? Do you feel like you are drawn to the clean lines of contemporary but still like the elegance of the traditional style? Maybe you feel the contemporary style is too bold but the traditional style can feel too stuffy. Well then you just may be transitional.

Transitional bridges the gap between those that relate to both contemporary and traditional style.

The design elements that are often seen in transitional spaces are:


(ex.  Huntington House sofa)

Furniture: Combination of straight and curved lines, swooped arms, tapered legs, mix of textures, large scale furniture that feels full but not overwhelming, and a blend of masculine and feminine pieces.


Textiles: Keep it light and neutral with creams, beiges, tans, and pale grays. Mix of different textures such as a smooth cotton mixed with a nubby chenille.

Woods: All wood tones can work in the transitional style but dark wood tones add some richness and contrast to the light fabrics.

Since the transitional style is a marriage between contemporary and traditional, oftentimes a person will lean more contemporary or more traditional which can be reflected in the space by using more prominent features that are prevalent in that design style.

For example, I had a client who had trouble explaining to me her style but once we ran across this picture from Century’s Rue de Seine collection she fell in love and wanted to replicate it as closely as possible. She obviously identified a more with the contempory side of transitional than she did the traditional side.


With the inspiration photo in mind, I put together the presentation shown below. I still used transitional swooped lines, soft muted fabrics, and dark rich woods but I added in a fun pop of color in the handwoven rug, navy blue velvet chairs, and pillows.

If bringing in a pop of color, keep to one color, you can do a variation of the same color (like I did with different blue tones).


Rug:Feizy rugs

Sofa: Lexington

Pillows, chair, ottoman, side table: Century Furniture


For accessories and lighting choose monochramatic items with sleek lines. The accessories will often have a metal finish which should either be brushed nickel or antiqued bronze. Don’t choose a shiny finish or you will detract from the subtleness of the room.


Accessories, Art, Lighting: Arteriors, Currey, Uttermost, Global Views

Here is an example from Lexington’s Tower Place collection that shows how the transitional style can also lean more traditional with its grand accessories, greek key motif, and velvet sofas.

The transitional style is flexible as long as the overall feel is one of a serene and welcoming atmosphere. Start with a neutral base with clean lines and a variation of textiles. You can then layer in warm tones in your woods and accessories to create harmony and tie the look together.

Still having a hard time pinpointing your style? Stop by Nebraska Furniture Mart’s Design Gallery and let one of our designers put together a design presentation for your space!

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