Traditional Vs Transitional Style Interior Design

Pinpointing and defining the characteristics of different interior design styles isn’t always easy. Traditional interior design and transitional interior design have many of the same core elements. However, when they’re directly compared, the variations and similarities are glaringly obvious. 

At Combit Construction specialist builders in North London we understand interior design style.  That’s why we’ve taken the time to explain the differences between traditional vs modern decor style right here:

Traditional Style Explained

As the name suggests the traditional home is inspired by history!  But that doesn’t mean that it’s out-of-date or stuffy.  A gorgeous traditional home embodies a timeless charm that’s familiar and inviting. It’s predictable. It’s orderly. And it’s beautiful.

We know traditional style has its roots in the 18th and 19th century and is reminiscent of the British colonial times. However, it’s not exclusive to this period. It may also include certain features from other eras. Ornate woodwork; rich textures; wood interior doors; heavy drapes; vintage lighting. It’s warm, luxurious, and elegant, often featuring classic European décor. Today’s traditionally styled homes can include more modern elements to add extra sophistication and elegance.

Let’s take a moment to dig into some of the stand-out features of a traditional style:


Beautiful woodwork is a key element of traditional design. Of course, the period in which the style was established was well before the age of plastic or other manufactured products, and from exquisite timber panelling to gorgeously sculptured and curved legs on tables and chairs, beautiful woodwork is a definite hallmark. 

Whether the timberwork is stained or painted, it’s exquisite and traditional, rather than trendy and chic. 


The focus on symmetry is also crucial to creating the overall harmony of the design. There’s nothing mishmash about the traditional home: the design centres around order and classic planning and use of space. 

For example, the traditional living area might feature a pair of armchairs, matching lamps on either side of the fireplace, a candelabra, and classic artwork in a heavy, gilded frame …  it’s all about consistency, balance, and coherence.


There’s plenty of variety to be enjoyed in the textiles used in traditional design. From exquisite paisleys and antique tapestries to fresh florals, stipes, and ginghams, there’s something to suit every taste, colour scheme and furniture piece!

Colour palettes tend to be bold and saturated, featuring the vibrant and stimulating juxtaposition of classic patterns and designs. Damasks, silks, and velvets are all common choices, as well as cottons, linens, and wool. Colours are often repeated in the same space for greater impact.

Window treatments are generally elegant and classic: floor to ceiling drapes, Austrian blinds, velvet curtains and decorative pelmets are all in consonance with traditional style.


The traditional home is well decorated, and the only limit here is your imagination!  Antique artworks, decorative ceramic urns, books, family heirlooms, candles, and potted plants… it’s all about placement and creating those rich and captivating displays that tell a story about you and your love of history.

What is Transitional Style Interior Design?

In short, it’s a healthy mix of contemporary and traditional design. It’s like the halfway point – that ‘meet-in-the-middle’ between the two ends of the design spectrum. 

While transitional style embodies much of the conventional charm of the traditional interior, it combines it with a contemporary flair. It’s a more casual approach to the classic, formal design – a spiced-up version which is both masculine and feminine in character.

So, what are some of the hallmarks of transitional style?

Muted Palette

Transitional style is characterised by muted, neutral backdrops and pops of pastel colours introduced in soft furnishings, artworks, and décor. The overall feel of a transitional style living room is light, bright, and airy, as compared to the heavier and warmer feel of the traditional space.

For the transitional space, think cream, beige, tan, white, pastel blue and pink, khaki, and taupe.

Combination of Old and New

Transitional style beautifully marries contemporary and traditional furniture pieces. Sleek, modern lines are elegantly paired with conventional curves and beautiful woodwork. While transitional furnishings are comfortable and somewhat classic, they’re certainly not fussy or formal.

The ability to embrace modern textures allows for greater flexibility and expression of individuality in the transitional home. Wood, leather, ceramic, rattan, and plastic – depth and meaning is created by layering different textures and finishes.

Natural Textures

With a definite lean towards organic textures and fabrics, the transitional interior often features natural finishes such as stone, rattan, linen, leather, and ceramic. The style encourages understated patterns and colours; however, visual interest can be successfully maintained using contrasting textures and finishes.

For example, the transitional style kitchen might showcase a concrete or stone benchtop paired with painted wooden cabinetry. 

This celebration of nature may also include bringing a piece of the outside indoors in the form of a beautiful potted plant, a wooden tray, or an animal hide.

Less is More

When accessorising, less is more for the transitional space. Don’t overcrowd – display a few beautiful items thoughtfully, rather than crowding rooms with unnecessary clutter. Focus on comfort as well as functionality. 

A more relaxed approach doesn’t mean that symmetry is thrown overboard in the transitional space – harmony and balance are still key elements of this design, although they can be achieved with less rigidity and formality.

Beautifully styled homes don’t happen by chance. It takes skill, patience, and a good understanding of the key elements of each design style like modern roof style, bedroom style, kitchen style etc. 

Igor and the team at Combit Construction are well versed in both traditional and transitional design. With years of experience in the construction, we understand what it takes to achieve beautifully styled homes that are as functional as they are gorgeous.

For tips and advice on how to renovate your home, call the team at Combit Construction today on +44208 457 2772. With 27+ years of combined experience in home renovation, we’ve got what it takes to help you turn your dream home into a reality!

This has been a collaborative article, thanks for reading.

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