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GET THE LOOK - What is Chic Transitional Style?

***Original post 2021.***

Transitional Style uses a careful balance of Modern and Traditional design elements (I discuss what Modern Design is here...FYI it's different from Contemporary!) The result is a timeless, classic interior that feels polished but comfortable. Transitional interiors should never feel too precious or overdone. They should be as comfortable for lounging on a Saturday morning as they are for entertaining on a Saturday night. Transitional interiors are, above all, livable.

I like to divide Transitional Style into two categories. I do this because when someone tells me their style is Transitional it still doesn't give me the whole picture. Breaking it down a little more helps me better understand their preferences. This week..."Chic Transitional"! If you missed my post on "Cozy Transitional" style you can read that here.

Chic Transitional Style

Transitional living room with an elegant feel in soft colors.

Chic Transitional is a little more elegant than Cozy Transitional. Symmetry lends a calming, more structured feel to these spaces and negative space is essential to creating a calm, uncluttered feel. Colors are light neutrals or soft shades. Bright colors can be used for impact as well. Everything feels light and airy, never dark and heavy.

How to Get the Look - Key Elements

  1. MATERIALS - The idea here is more refined finishes. Polished or brushed metals, acrylic and glass add some reflectivity. Marble or natural stone is a popular surface. Cotton sateen, silk, luster velvet...a slight sheen elevates the look but should never be too gaudy.

  2. FURNISHINGS - As in all Transitional interiors, simple straight lines or gentle curves blend together in one space. However Chic Transitional tends to lean slightly more towards softer, curvier styling. Main furniture pieces should be comfortable enough for lounging but not overwhelm the room. Occasional furniture should be smaller scale with delicate lines and trimmer legs. Finer details like a contrast welt, fabric trim or turned leg add gravitas and a sense of history that is essential for a timeless look.

  3. COLORS & PRINTS - Neutrals should be your base in greys, tans or warm whites. Soft colors are most common and are sometimes used in big ways like wallpapering a room. Bright colors, if used, are smaller doses in accessories such as drapery, throw pillows, art or accent chair upholstery. Prints are smaller and more delicate or have a historical context like chinoiserie prints, jacobean florals, pinstripes, small scale geometrics, and paisleys, but are often mixed with ethnic prints, animal prints and contemporary prints for a little fun and sense of surprise.

  4. LIGHTING - Lighting is often inspired by the shapes of traditional fixtures that have been simplified and modernized a bit. Any complicated embellishments have been removed and lines are smoothed to make them seem less fussy. Lighting is used to pull a little shine and glamour into a space and should be the "jewelry" of the room.

  5. ACCESSORIES - Accessories should be minimal but add a sense of depth and layering. Think thinner lines and more delicate details or materials with some luster, and group items together to add more visual weight. Symmetrical vignettes are more common so buy things in twos for balance.

Now that you have the tools, start creating your own Chic Transitional sanctuary! Click on any of the products below to Shop the Look.

***Updated April 2024.  In the case that the same items were not available, similar items were chosen.***

Chic Transitional Style

Not a fan of the options above? Here are some alternatives so you can make it your own! Click on any of the items to get a closer look.

Chic Transitional Sofas & Chairs

Chic Transitional Coffee & Side Tables

Chic Transitional Lighting

Chic Transitional Accessories

Chic Transitional Rugs & Pillows

Websites to shop for more Chic Transitional Style:

If you haven't yet, take my Design Style Quiz to see what your personal style is!

There's more Design Styles to come so keep checking back. Better yet, hit subscribe above to get email notifications when a new post comes out, and exclusive access to design advice not available on my blog. Let me know what you think of these finds in the comments below!

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If you need more assistance pulling a look together for you space, you can read more about what I offer on my Services page.


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