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Our quick reference guide to a number of prevalent and popular interior design styles. Featuring the different styles of interiors and their key features.

We could be forgiven for picking up the latest glossy mag and concluding that the content is what interior design is all about. Indeed, trends come and go, trends re emerge and new trends occur with the melding of different historical styles, colours, forms and living conditions. One way to look at interior style and trends are in a cyclical manor. A reemergence of one style combined with another. At other times, new forward thinking design movements occur that cast aside the traditional and carve out a fresh new approach similar to the Modernist style of the early (and predominantly) 20th Century. Think Le Corbusier or Oscar Niemeyer.

As a guide to a number of prevalent styles, let’s look beyond the magazines and describe several interior design styles present today and the distinctive details that make them so.

Remember, that if you are looking to recreate a style in your own home then speak with Michael Ó Mara Interior Designers about your next project. We are inspired by various styles in creating our finished designs.

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When: 18th to 19th Century. 1741 to 1830

  • Wainscoting below dado & wall frames

  • A wooden floor with a rug as feature – usually oriental in style

  • Lighting as chandalier or candelabra/ candle sticks of glass or metal

  • Furniture in dark wood, refined and stream lined in a compact form

  • Use of gilt edged mirrors & picture frames with Rococo elements but more reserved than the Baroque period

  • Small framed prints of floral items and in particular architectural detail and paintings

  • Window treatments with shuttering and gathered blinds, detailed swags and tails along with a fabric pelmet all sum up the style

  • Typical fabrics of Toile de Jouy in monochrome blue/white, red/ white. Olive & cream stripe, hand blocked chinze

  • Wall colours generally painted in bright colours – Yellow, greens & turquoise

Image: Toile Portfolio by Thibaut


When: 19th to 20th Century. 1880 to 1920.

  •  Finely designed and sturdy is a feature of Arts & crafts furniture
  • Deeply influenced and developed by William Morris
  • Decoration of walls in wallpaper – the styles would be floral in nature,unfussy with reserved colours
  • Upholstery in plain warm earthy shades
  • Tin or metal beaten hearth fender designs which would be highly polished
  • Paintings and framed work would be presented in an understated wooden frame.
  • Again floors would be wooden and a feature rug to centre in living rooms or the good room. Rugs usually of an oriental theme but in this case more reserved in colour.

Image: Acanthus Fabric & wallpaper by William Morris & Co.

Prague Central train station

ART NOUVEAU (also known as the Yachting style, Youth Style & Le Style Moderne)

When: 19th to 20th Century. 1880 to 1910

Simply: Visit Prague!

  • Ornamented, sensuous, long ,sinuous organic shapes and styling
  • Light and airy spaces, uncluttered, botanical/ organic features
  • A classic light would be the Tiffany stained glass lamp in a botanical form
  • Colours for this period are Lilac, rose pink, pale blue, yellow and leafy green
  • One of the main contributors to this style in Fabric was the Scottish artist Charles Rennie Mackintosh
  • Botanical and organic murals are prevalent

(Photo: Michael Ó Mara – Prague Central train Station circa 2010)


A rejection of ornamentation, form following function a direction towards minimalism.

When: 20th Century. 1908 to 1990.

  •  Essential elements: Glass, concrete, open plan living
  • Bright & airy – generally light backgrounds with some accents in Red or Blue subdued tones
  • Furniture – light, stylish and functional – think Eames, Le Corbusier, Mies Van Der Rohe
  • Wood flooring was used regularly and the finish was in gloss so as to reflect light and create  a more airy experience
  • Consider adaptable lighting: Floor lamps, table lamps etc. along with concealed lighting
  • Feature pieces of sculpture – few but particular

(Photo: James O Davies, Modernist House designed byJørn Utzon from Dezeen article written by Amy Frearson)

Contemporary navy design headboard minimal rustic
Contemporary Rustic minimalism


Focused on form and linear detail. Rejection of stuffiness and clutter. Everything in its right place.

  • Using a base colour generally in white, off- white, grey tones
  • Different tones can be used to revoke blandness
  • Influenced by Japanese natural interiors, Scandinavian interiors and contemporary museum interiors
  • Elements of wood unadorned, clean lines, polished micro cement, chrome, steel, limed and light oaks
  • Pops of colour
  • Geometric shapes and forms, decorative art works and print designs
  • Generally one dominant accent colour – usually grey, black or other colour such as blue or navy

PHOTO: The above image demonstrates the clean lines, organisation, lack of stuffiness, natural wood flooring, solid accent colour, clean lines of the door handles. A feature recessed accent light along the line of the room.

** We will be updating this blog regularly introducing you to further quick references to interior styles – stay tuned!**