The transitional design style is one of the hardest styles to get a firm grasp on… because it’s not really one style. It’s a mixture of contemporary and traditional design, and since there aren’t any strict guidelines on how to execute that combination, no two transitional spaces will ever look exactly alike!

There are, however, a few things to keep in mind when it comes to transitional design, and we’re here to help point them out. So, the next time you find yourself looking at a picture, wondering if it’s transitional, look out for the key aspects listed below!

The picture above is an excellent example of a transitional space. Honestly, we don’t know whose design this is or where it came from, but it’s a picture often seen on Pinterest when searching “transitional design.” If anyone knows the source, please let us know!! Nevertheless, it’s the perfect illustration for what we are going to be talking about.

If transitional design is a mixture of contemporary and traditional design, let’s look at both styles separately, represented within this one picture.


See that smooth wall texture and frameless window design? Both lean more contemporary, and provide the perfect background for the abstract art, solid neutral rug, and clean-lined coffee table and side table. However, the space lacks the overall starkness that’s often associated with contemporary design. Why? Because a few traditional elements have been mixed in, to help soften and warm up the look of the space.


The matching floor lamps and the tufted cushion on the chaise speak to the traditional aspects of the design. In addition, although the lines of the coffee table are modern, it’s made of wood – a much more traditional material. The velvet side chairs also call back to more traditional styles. Though they’re less ornate than truly traditional chairs (like the one below), the slightly rolled arms, tapered legs, and nailhead accents add a traditional element, making the chairs a perfect example of transitional design.

This blend of styles is what makes transitional so special… the seamless mix of classical elements with the simplicity of modern styles. We hope this helps you to understand what goes into a transitional space, and to feel more confident when talking about transitional furniture pieces. To learn more about transitional design, read this old blog post!

Curious to see if transitional is your style? Take our free design style quiz here!