Close Menu

What's your style? Our quick guide to 5 major interior styles

Ever wondered what interior style suits you best?

The style of your interiors might be something you’ve consciously worked on to cultivate a particular feel, or it might be something that’s just emerged naturally from the way you like to decorate and arrange your living space - such as your choice of sofa covers or chair covers. If you’re aiming to hone in on a certain look though, it can help to know the full ins and outs of each major style, and how they differ from each other. We’ve provided a quick breakdown for you below!

Modern and contemporary style

We’ll begin with perhaps two of the most popular interior styles - modern and contemporary. Now, people often get confused between the two, and in fairness it’s easy to see why. To unpick the confusion, let’s look at each one in detail.

Modern

Somewhat counterintuitively, ‘modern’ refers not to the here and now, but to a time that’s actually passed. It gets its name from the ‘modern’ art movement, generally agreed to have spanned between the 1860s and 1970s, itself informed by Scandinavian and German Bauhaus design. Obviously, a century of design evolution is quite a lot to pack into a single style, so generally most modern design hearken back back to the mid century modern era of the 1950s and 1960s.

In keeping with the ideals of the time, modern design emphasises simple form and function, and is often characterised by crisp lines, warm neutrals, and an overall sense of balance. Colour schemes tend to be rooted in earthier hues, such as rust, turquoise and olive green. Much of that makes it quite distinctive from contemporary style, but they do share some similarities - chiefly their focus on clean architectural lines.

Contemporary

Modern style is the precursor to contemporary style - whereas the former is all about a specific period in time, the latter concentrates on the here and now. It also dabbles with future styles too, and so it can often be a lot more experimental in nature than modern style. That makes it a lot more fluid, and in many ways more difficult to define than modern style. However, there are certain traits that are frequently found in contemporary interiors.

As we touched on above, clean contemporary lines are one of the most prominent defining characteristics. State of the art materials are another common feature, such as various types of glass and metals. Both modern and contemporary styles also encompass minimalism and Scandinavian style, although they generally tend to be associated more closely with contemporary style than modern.

‘Classy’ and ‘sophisticated’ are two words regularly used to describe contemporary interiors. Contemporary colour schemes are often based on shades of white, black and and grey, but occasionally feature some prominent pops of colour too. If that’s the case, it’s generally a pure saturated tone like true red, indigo or orange.

Vintage or Shabby Chic

Again, these are two terms that are often confused. A good way of telling them apart, in a nutshell, is that vintage interiors tend to make use of genuinely historical features (whether that’s furniture, focal pieces or ornaments), whereas shabby chic consists largely of more modern pieces that have been carefully crafted to look worn.

To go into a little more detail, vintage interiors tend to focus on a particular period of history (such as the 1930s or 50s), and they’re often centred around a heritage item or collection of items that have a special meaning to their owners, such as a table, sofa or sideboard. The older these items are, the more storied their own individual histories and the more individual character they exude, which typically works to give the space a particularly distinctive feel.

Shabby chic is closely related to vintage, and equally hearkens back to an earlier time. The main difference is that shabby chic has been specifically designed to do so, often consisting of more modern pieces that have been carefully aged, distressed, or weathered to achieve this look. The aim of this is to cultivate an atmosphere that’s relaxed, humble and welcoming. Shabby chic is often enhanced with a range of eclectic items from various time periods, such as cabinets, tables, or mirrors. (To name just a few examples!

Rustic

Rustic, rural or country styles (as they’re variously referred to), are typically inspired by the great outdoors. You’ve probably already guessed, then, that natural materials tend to feature prominently here, with wood, stone and brick often taking centre stage. Following on from this, colours are generally warm and earthy, encompassing mud brown, sandy shades, and pine green.

As you might imagine, it’s a particular favourite look in rural homes and country cottages - where such materials are readily available - but it’s an increasingly popular look in more urban areas too, as people make a concerted effort make their home a calming natural haven, well away from the daily stresses and worries of the day.

Of course, there’s nothing to say that your interior style has to fit neatly into any single one of these - in fact, the most creative and intriguing designs often flow freely between several! But what they can do is give you some useful inspiration, so that you can start to fine-tune the environment that you feel most comfortable in.

The shade of your furniture has a hugely influential effect on the overall style of your space. Even something as simple as a new sofa cover or a new chair cover can inject fresh colour and personality into your space, transforming the mood of your interiors entirely. Similarly, you could even reupholster a beloved piece of furniture, to bring your interiors back on track. We can help with all of that here at Plumbs.

You can find new furniture covers right here on our site, and we also offer an expert furniture reupholstery service. Feel free to give us a quick call on 0800 019 0505 if you’ve got any questions, or you’re looking for something specific. Our team is here to help!

Joanna Whitworth
Home Decor enthustiast and employee of Plumbs Loose Covers and Reupholstery.
UK-wide service
UK-wide service
Family business
Family business
Made-to-measure
Made-to-measure
Free in-home consultation
Free in-home consultation
Over 800 fabrics
Over 800 fabrics
Quality guarantee
Quality guarantee

Stay informed

Sign-up to our mailing list for details of new products, collections and special offers.

You can expect to receive an newsletter from us around once per month and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Added to your wishlist

View options in the comfort of your home

We'll go through our fabric collections and offer advice on colour and designs. There's no pressure to buy anything.