Translating Interior Design Trends

Lael Homes Translating Design Trends

Interior designers have their own language to describe design trends or particular style preferences. Words and phrases like ‘shabby chic,’ ‘rustic,’ ‘minimalist,’ ‘modern,’ ‘contemporary,’ and ‘traditional’ are ideas you may run into when discussing design preferences with your interior designer.

It is important to understand what these terms mean to know what your designer is suggesting and identify what your style is called in the design world.

Lael Homes Interior Designer, Kelly Lael, is brilliant at meeting with a new client and quickly ascertaining their signature style.  But maybe you want to know for yourself before getting started! 

Below, you can find a quick guide giving brief explanations for the popular terms mentioned above.

‘Shabby Chic’

This design has a softer feel with vintage touches. Think whitewashed furniture, faded floral prints, white and grey fabric and comfortable furnishing, dreamy understated pastels, and lace accents.


Rustic interior design focuses on natural elements and calls on simple layouts. You may see dark wood furniture, soft blues, browns, and whites, maybe some whicker work or a loose-knit throw blanket, but without fail, the rustic style will include a bold and centrally located fireplace (usually stone with a rough wood mantle).


The minimalist style is focused on clean lines and clear spaces. The name is pretty self-explanatory; minimalist designs call for minimal decoration, furnishing, or distraction. What is included in the layout is essential and tastefully appointed.

Think basic colors with a pop here or there for a snappy finish, simple cloth furnishings with thin metal supports to avoid blocking the eye, and functional and unobtrusive light fixtures whose light enhances the negative spaces.

‘Modern’ vs. ‘Contemporary’

Modern and contemporary interior designs are often confused, and their terms misappropriated. Modern implies a certain time period, whereas contemporary is in constant flux based on current trends.

Elements that distinguish the modern design include sleek surfaces of metal, chrome, and glass. Modern style focuses on bold statements, whether it be a large work of art or a bright set of furniture where the rest of the room is simple and minimal.

Contemporary style combines current trends with aspects borrowed from previous decades to create a timeless feel.


The US is by no means an old country, so it is unsurprising that traditional designs draw from France and England, specifically the 18th and 19th centuries. You will find heavy, intricately carved wooden furniture and fabrics of velvet, silk, and linen. Picture elegantly draped hangings, crystal chandeliers, dark leather armchairs perfect for smoking a pipe, and aged wood and glass book casings.

The great news — whatever your style, Kelly is focused on YOUR vision, not hers.  Her catalog of experience covers all of these basic styles, and then some!  She is an expert at guiding her clients through the plethora of options, without making them feel overwhelmed by their choices.