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Design Dictionary

Find Your Personal Style With Our Interior Design Dictionary

When you take into account the sheer number of décor styles, house styles, and furniture styles on the market, nailing down your own personal design style can be easier said than done.

You can consider the tried and true styles like Mid-Century Modern, hedge your bets on unexpected microstyles like Coastal Grandmother, or combine a variety of styles to find one that fits your personality perfectly.

To help jump start your journey to find your personal style, we pulled together a list of must-know interior design terms from A-Z.

A: Art Deco

Art Deco

Photo: Paul Bowyer for Dorothee Meilichzon; Graphic: Caitlin-Marie Miner Ong for MyDomaine

Art Deco is an art, architectural, and design style characterized by bold, geometric patterns and shapes, symmetrical arrangements, glamor, luxury, and the use of a variety of materials including aluminum, stainless steel, and plastic. The movement was inspired by industrialization and technical progress and it flourished during the 1920s–1940s.

B: Bauhaus


Photo: kolderal / Getty Images; Graphic: Caitlin-Marie Miner Ong for MyDomaine

Bauhaus architecture is a design movement that emerged in post-World War I Germany, in the dawning days of the artistically liberated Weimar Republic. The style prioritized function above all else, with a core principle of “truth to materials.” Bauhaus architecture primarily uses functional shapes—like squares, triangles, and circles—with little in the way of embellishment.

C: Coastal


Photo: White Sands Design + Build; Graphic: Caitlin-Marie Miner Ong

Coastal style is inspired by beach living, but with a stylish spin. Coastal interiors often rely on a crisp, white base layered with sea- and sky-inspired blues and earthy browns and greens. The overall feeling should be clean and light—the embodiment of a breath of fresh, salty air. Fans of the style also embrace soft, airy materials like cotton and linen and place a lot of importance on natural light.

D: Drapery


Photo: Tessa Neustadt for Emily Henderson; Graphic: Caitlin-Marie Miner Ong for MyDomaine

Drapes are a type of window treatment typically made of a heavy, rich fabric that are hung from a rod above the window. They offer an elegant feel and typically extend from the top of the window and puddle on the ground.

E: Eclectic


Photo: Rebecca McAlpin for Michelle Gage; Graphic: Caitlin-Marie Miner Ong for MyDomaine

Eclectic design is a celebration of contrasts that embodies a dynamic marriage of furniture and decor from disparate movements, styles, and eras. Eclectic interiors are also highly personal, yet carefully edited and cohesive.

F: Farmhouse


Photo: Amy Bartlam; Graphic: Caitlin-Marie Miner Ong for MyDomaine

Farmhouse style is characterized by warm colors and natural materials. There's often a sense of nostalgia throughout the space with a sprinkling of vintage and repurposed pieces. A cousin to the "shabby chic" movement, farmhouse décor can lean more modern or rustic, depending on the designer.

G: Gothic


Photo: fotoVoyager / Getty Images; Graphic: Caitlin-Marie Miner Ong for MyDomaine

A Gothic-style house is a house that evokes the gothic style of cathedrals built during the Middle Ages in Europe. These typically two-story homes are known for their ornate style, characterized by stone facades, steep roof pitches, arch-style windows, and large chimneys.

H: Hygge


Photo: True Home; Graphic: Caitlin-Marie Miner Ong for MyDomaine

Hygge (pronounced hyoo-guh) is a characteristic of Danish culture that has translated into Scandinavian interior design. It involves creating a warm, comfortable atmosphere in your living spaces to make them as inviting and cozy as possible.

I: Industrial


Photo: Amy Bartlam; Graphic: Caitlin-Marie Miner Ong for MyDomaine

Industrial style harkens back to loft-style factories that were common in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Known for its use of unpolished building materials such as unfinished brick, exposed pipes and metal, worn wood, and polished concrete, Industrial style feels edgy and functional all at once.

M: Modern


Photo: Amy Bartlam; Graphic: Caitlin-Marie Miner Ong

Modern design features a streamlined look with clean lines and edges. Most modern design is understated, focusing on neutral colors and natural materials. The style nods to the Modernist movement, which began in the late 1800s. The Modernist movement was incredibly practical: it favored functional furniture, embraced clean lines, and kept unnecessary decoration to a minimum.

O: Open Concept

Open Concept

Photo: Sara Ligorria-Tramp for Emily Henderson Design; Graphic: Caitlin-Marie Miner Ong

The phrase “open concept” describes an interior that’s relatively large and open. In an open-concept floor plan, walls are scarce and private spaces are rare. A good litmus test? If at least two common spaces in your home are connected—and not separated by walls or doorways—you’re probably dealing with an open floor plan.

S: Scandinavian


Photo: Sarah Karppinen; Graphic: Caitlin-Marie Miner Ong for MyDomaine

Scandinavian design is marked by minimalism, simple and clean lines, functionality, and lack of clutter. It first came to prominence in the Scandinavian region consisting of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark.

T: Transitional


Photo: Bespoke Only; Graphic: Caitlin-Marie Miner Ong for MyDomaine

Transitional design combines elements of traditional design with elements of modern or contemporary design. The result is a balanced interior, which nods to classic and modern design in equal measure.

V: Victorian


Photo: LordRunar / Getty Images; Graphic: Caitlin-Marie Miner Ong for MyDomaine

Victorian-style homes became popular during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901) and are characterized by Gothic influences and intricately designed woodwork. These homes often have pitched roofs, wraparound front porches, cylindrical turrets, and roof towers.

W: Wabi-sabi


Photo: Jenna Peffley for Shanty Wijaya, ALLPRACE homes; Graphic: Caitlin-Marie Miner Ong for MyDomaine

Wabi-sabi is a Japanese term that can be translated to mean "flawed beauty" or "the perfection in imperfection." It often refers to the beauty found in nature which is organic, asymmetrical, or otherwise "imperfect" but still aesthetically pleasing. Though it's tricky to pin down a strict definition, the general philosophy has been taken in recent years to describe an aesthetic that emphasizes nature, the incomplete or impermanent, and a "slow living" approach.