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Define the Style: Transitional Design

on June 22, 2022

Welcome to Transitional Design 101!  

What do you do when you want a traditional home and your partner wants a contemporary design plan? Well, why can’t you have both? The transitional design style blends traditional and contemporary elements, allowing you to get the best of both worlds! But, what is transitional design, and how can you add transitional style to your home? Don’t worry! The LiLi Team defines the style and answers all your questions. It’s time for Transitional Design 101. Class is now in session! 


What is Transitional Style?  

The transitional design style gets its name for seamlessly transitioning between traditional and contemporary elements. While the traditional and contemporary styles exist on opposite ends of the spectrum, the transitional style meets in the middle, combining the best features of both looks. While traditional can feel too old-fashioned and contemporary can feel too cold, transitional blends contrasting details for a warm, casual, and cozy feel. This style is perfect for couples or roommates looking to blend polar opposite preferences in a cohesive and inviting way. 


There aren't set rules for transitional style, and some spaces will lean one way over the other. For example, you could pair a modern light fixture with a rustic farmhouse-style dining table or furnish an entire living room with streamlined pieces but accent with old-world art. The key to designing a transitional space is to include elements that appeal to everyone and create a timeless and approachable aesthetic. 


Throughout history, we’ve had design styles tied to specific eras, including the antique feel of the Victorian style and the minimalistic look of the mid-century modern style. The transitional style didn’t develop until after the mid-century period, which ended in the 1960s. In the late 70s and early 80s, homeowners began blending pieces from traditional design eras with more contemporary elements, marrying cozy comforts with polished elegance. The blended transitional design eventually gave way to other styles, like eclectic and shabby chic.  


Since contemporary design is “of the moment,” it changes through the years, meaning the transitional style changes along with it. For example, the transitional farmhouse look was popular during the 2010s. Now, the transitional style has migrated to the coast, embracing more design elements associated with the Contemporary California Coastal style. Today’s transitional style embraces curved furnishings, warm neutrals, and light-washed wood tones that speak to a sense of California cool. 


Transitional Style Tip: Aim for Balance 

While the transitional style embraces traditional and contemporary pieces, designing a room takes more than randomly throwing furnishings and accessories together and hoping they stick. For example, a space-age light fixture may feel out of place above a Victorian settee. The key to transitional design is balance. Look for pieces that have cohesive colors, lines, and looks. While you can pair contrasting elements, make sure they make sense sharing the same space. 


8 Ways to Add Transitional Style to Your Home

Now that you know more about transitional design, it’s time to recreate the look for yourself. Here are 8 ways to add transitional style to your home. 

1. Embrace a Neutral Color Palette 

The best way to blend contrasting elements is to unite them under a cohesive, neutral color palette. Paint your interior walls in soft hues, select neutral textiles, and use color accents sparingly. Most transitional design schemes feature light and airy white kitchens, and our Glazed Tiles in Snowy White are perfect for your transitional backsplash. LiLi Tip: Lay them in a herringbone pattern for some traditional charm or a vertical pattern for a contemporary edge. 


2. Reserve Patterns for Impactful Accents

Select solid textiles and wall coverings to keep your transitional space on the contemporary side and establish a cleaner look. However, don’t be afraid to include some patterns. Instead of adding patterns to every surface, reserve them to make impactful accents where it counts. For example, you could choose a bold print for an accent chair, wallpaper, or fireplace surround. Our Florence pattern is perfect for adding a pop of unexpected pattern in a tasteful way.  


3. And Keep Your Patterns Simplistic 

Keep it simple! The transitional style values clean lines and minimalist detail. Instead of opting for intricate patterns, go for something small-scale. Subtle details like our Twinkle pattern cement tile can go a long way and add the perfect amount of cozy charm to your space. 


4. Layer in Textures for a Cozy Feel

If you’re wondering how to add interest to your transitional space without going overboard on patterns, we have your answer. Instead of opting for patterns on all your surfaces, create interest by layering in different textures for a cozy feel. Mix chunky weave textiles, leathers, woods, and metallics for visual appeal.  


5. Furnish With Clean Lines and Oversized Pieces  

Traditional furnishings typically have intricate details like carved woods, while contemporary furnishings have sharp lines. Look to the middle ground and select furniture pieces with clean lines and soft curves for a transitional space. Opt for oversized furnishings, like plush sofas, for a cozier and more inviting feel.  


6. Limit Accessories for a Cleaner Look

The traditional style turns some people off because it looks cluttered. For your transitional home, limit accessories and embrace negative space. Instead of overloading shelves and surfaces, create a curated selection of vases, natural elements, books, and art that have room to be appreciated.  


7. Go Contemporary With the Lighting 

This next idea is so good a lightbulb just went off! When designing in the transitional style, lean into more contemporary lighting choices. Embrace a cleaner architectural look and save the traditional elements for furnishings and textiles.  


8. Add a Little Shimmer With Brass Accents

Brass is a fantastic finish for transitional spaces because it blends old-world charm with modern sparkle. You can incorporate brass hardware, fixtures, and lighting into your room, or you can go with something unexpected like our Brass Insert tiles that add a slight shimmer to your backsplash or floor.  


Transitional Style is All About Comfort 

While traditional designs can feel stuffy and modern designs can feel cold, transitional design is all about layering cozy comforts and embracing the best of both worlds — welcome soft fabrics, oversized furnishings, and warm neutral tones. For your tile, select simple designs that showcase your unique personality and flair. Now, kick back and enjoy your new transitional home!



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Follow us on Instagram for more tile trends and design tips. Need some extra help? Give us a call! We love sharing our thoughts on the latest trends and answering any cement tile questions you have.   

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