A Word or Two About Design Styles

When it comes to renovating the home, most homeowners have difficulty describing the style that they want.

With the amount of jargon and the subtle difference between the styles, you'd have to be an architecture historian to tell them apart. The following are brief descriptions of the most popular interior design styles meant to give you an edge in choosing and talking about the styles you like:


Modernist designs are known for their purist sensibilities, including clean lines and efficiency. It is a very popular style in Europe and North American condo living due to the spaciousness that it emphasizes. You see few historical architectural elements in a modern home and none in an ultra-modern style. There are no moldings, no corbels, very subtle textures, and nothing that creates a busy look. Style is reflected in technological materials such as stainless steel, glass, plastic, smooth wood veneers and other sleek materials. Since there are fewer details, colour and texture play a very important role. In modern kitchens, for example, cabinet doors that are simpler in design. With fewer elements to distract the eyes, when compared with traditional styles, modern design quality is reflected in details of craftsmanship and intrinsic beauty of materials used. High-gloss lacquer finishes, exotic wood veneers and stainless steel accents combine to create a high-tech look.


Contemporary kitchens have some of the high-tech look and functionality of a modern space, but are not purist in style and design vocabulary. Often different styles are mixed together to give this style of space a unique emotional connection to its occupants. In a contemporary space, it's common to find a juxtaposition of styles such as an antique rug or historic wood table used with an ultra-modern sofa in a streamlined and technologically advanced space.

Classic (Traditional)

The advantage of having a traditional design is that it never goes out of style. Ornamental elements such as moldings and posts are commonly used in traditional designs to reflect timeless elegance and sophistication. The classical style is most obvious when looking at the kitchen - crown moldings, light valences, raised panel doors, columns with ornaments, hardwood flooring and rich materials such as tumbled marble. Cabinets in cherry wood or off-white finishes topped with granite countertops are a popular direction for most homeowners. This would be a good choice of style for those who like to redecorate often without spending a lot of money, because wood finishes and white cabinetry match nearly any fabric and trend. A traditional space also makes clutter not as noticeable compared to a modern style. This is due to the abundance of textures and variation within different elements.

Modern Classic

The modern classic style is a streamlined version of the traditional style. It has modernist sensibilities with its clean lines and spacious feel. Classic elements that are presented in a modern classic design are often more subtle, such as moldings without extra ornamentation. The overall impression is a room that appears cleaner, as all classic elements are reduced to form only or totally removed.

In a modern classic kitchen, you still find elements of a traditional kitchen such as crown moldings, light valences, and raised panel cabinet doors, but these elements have less detail or are streamlined to be more technological in style. Instead of tumbled marble flooring, a honed and cross-cut travertine might be used to purify the style. A common feature of the classic modern style are extra-wide drawer cabinets that you'd see in ultra-modern designs, turned into a timeless piece of furniture.


The country style is a casual version of the traditional style. Materials that are handmade or have a handmade look are preferred and have more variation. Worn and weathered items are celebrated and remove formality for a space. It's all about comfort.

Old World

The Old World style perhaps may be the most ornamented and sophisticated of the styles outlined here. Inspired by history, these are Baroque, Neo-classical, Tuscan, Renaissance, and English style interiors that conjure up imagery of castles in Europe. Elements such as corbels, appliqués, crown moldings, spindle columns, canopies, and complex handmade architectural features are common. Antiqued or handmade iron work and hand-dragged finishes, elaborate chandeliers in the dinning room and the foyer, and grand scales distinguish an old world interior. These are six of the most common styles that we see in homes nowadays. Knowing these styles will give you an advantage in coordinating the elements that you need to create an exquisite interior that reflects your tastes. It is also useful in helping you to discuss elements and styles that you like with your designer, a part of a healthy two-way design process which is the key to making your dream space a reality.

This article was provided by BiglarKinyan Design Partnership. Kenneth Ho and Fardid Biglar are partners at the design and construction firm BKDP. For more information about the work of BKDP, please visit their website at www.BKDP.ca.

Article Author

BiglarKinyan Design Partnership is a design and construction firm that specializes in creating extraordinary architectural interiors including designer kitchens and bathrooms. Our designs are timeless and catered specifically to each of our client’s unique styles and needs. We design and manage each project to ensure excellence and a hassle-free experience for our clients. We work exclusively with specialized construction professionals and are on-site to oversee construction. At BKDP, we listen to what you want, starting from an in-house consultation through to design development, and construction phases until completion to your absolute satisfaction. At BKDP we can work with almost any budget to deliver outstanding design and construction quality. We focus on details to ensure excellence, prompt service and customer satisfaction. BKDP is a member of the prestigious ARIDO and carries a $2,000,000 all risk insurance policy that covers construction and design.

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