Classic Transitional Interior Design Style

Classic Transitional: What is it?

Classic Transitional may seem like a catch-all for a style that falls somewhere between traditional and contemporary. And while that is partially true, Classic Transitional has a distinct timeless look and isn’t chock full of trend. I have posted about Classic Transitional style a couple of times in the past, but wanted to really breakdown some of the elements in the style.

Some of my favorite designers who have a lot of Classic Transitional style in the portfolio are Anne Marie Barton, Barclay Butera, and Lori Paranjape.

Classic Transitional has a foundation of traditional design, but clean lines in the furnishings and decor that isn’t overdone. The overall look is usually clean, crisp, and light, but still decorative enough that the spaces feel luxurious. For example, you may find a contemporary track arm sofa in a room with custom floral drapery, something you would typically find in a traditional space.

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Color palettes for Classic Transitional are usually understated. They can be achromatic or neutral, but when color is used it is used with restraint and is often soft and muted with a few bright punches of color here and there.

As with all of these Classic styles, the wall color is light and neutral because wall color is used mostly as a backdrop.

classic transitional office


All upholstered furniture in the Classic Transitional style should have clean contemporary lines. It is one unifying theme within the style. If you want to add traditional pieces of furniture, use them in accent pieces

classic transitional bedroom


In a true Classic Transitional style there may be some bright and shiny metals, but nothing will be too trendy or too glam. You can use rugs in various styles and patterns, but you may want to stay away from anything too traditional, such as jewel toned Oriental rugs.

Art can also be from nearly any period, but you will want to keep the frames simple with clean lines. Don’t use frames with a lot of carving and detail.

To “up the ante” in a Classic Transitional space, use custom drapes and window treatments as well as pillows. You will also want to balance the decor with some traditional textile patterns and textures.

shoppable interior design board home office
Bookcase/Etagere – Books – Clock – Jack – Drapes – Chair – Lighting – Bowl
Box – Desk – Flowers – Rug – Art – Console

As I have said in my previous posts, to create a timeless look, you need to have something from the past, present, and future. This is a must in Classic Transitional style. Any time I design a Classic Transitional space I include something classical or neo-classical in the design. Whether its a bust or a drawing of the classical orders, it gives the space a little nod to something timeless.

If you want to learn about the other classic styles, make sure you check out the posts for Simply Classic, Classic Eclectic, and Classic Coastal. Want to take the quiz and see which type is your type? Download the Sophisticated Living Guide to Cohesive Style and take the quiz!

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