Defining Your Style: What is ‘Traditional’ Interior Design?

When it comes to defining their style, many clients describe their personal aesthetic as “traditional.” While that is a good start, our challenge as design professionals is to drill down and ascertain exactly what type of traditional style the client wants in order to deliver the best results.

As you can see from a quick perusal of my faux finish projects, there are many different subsets of style that all fall under the traditional interior design umbrella. The defining characteristic of traditional style is an appreciation for historical European interior design, from furnishings to textiles; however, that’s still a very wide category of design from which to choose! Read on to see a few of the most popular types of traditional interior design.

French Country

faux finish built in bookcases


If you love interior design straight out of a quaint village in Provence, French Country is the style for you. This charming interior design style blends casual elegance with rustic simplicity. Common elements include farmhouse tables, mixed finishes on furnishings and cabinetry, beamed ceilings, and rooster motifs. Textiles like toile, linen, ticking stripes, and gingham further the look, while colors are either rich neutrals or are drawn from the landscape: muted blues and greens, fields of lavender, and red poppies.

British Colonial



British Colonial interior design combines classical influences with tropical elements of the West Indies for a romantic, elegant look. Pair romantic mosquito net canopies, bamboo, palms, pineapple motifs, oriental rugs, campaign chests, and wicker furnishings with ornate, carved teak and mahogany furnishings to capture the style.



Neoclassical interior design takes its cues from classical Greek and Roman motifs, like columns, dentil molding, urns, and other ornate architectural elements. Furnishings follow the styles of the “big three” 18th century English furniture makers Hepplewhite, Chippendale, and Sheraton, while timeless fabrics like brocade, toile, and damask complete the look.

faux finish marble columns

Decorative painting can help you achieve the look when the traditional materials are cost-prohibitive or impractical. For instance, these faux marble columns were given a decorative painting treatment to match the marble floors, while the base and capital received a bronze faux finish that draws the eye to these neoclassical architectural features.

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