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Style Secret: Tone-on-Tone Palettes
The transitional look won't necessarily suit color junkies. Warm neutrals rule: cream, taupe, tan, khaki, gray, with the occasional hint of chocolate or espresso brown thrown in to ground the palette. Patterns, if used at all, should be understated; skip the punchy florals and Pucci-esque prints.
If you just can't live without a jolt of color, keep it to a few strategic accents — for instance, you might repeat bright turquoise or saturated coral in a piece of artwork, a pair of lamps and a throw pillow or two.
Look closer: This living area reads as monochromatic, yet it's anything but boring. The reason: Strong furniture carries the space, and there's just enough pattern from the curtains and the grain of the wooden coffee table to break up the swath of neutrals. Plus, the wide windows shed light on subtle shading variations in the walls, upholstery and rug.
Style Secret: Simple Silhouettes
Transitional furnishings have crisp profiles and straightforward style — not a baroque flourish in sight. Gentle curves and rigid lines feed off each other to create energy.
You don't have to leave older furniture styles by the wayside, but use updated versions, such as a modern wing chair or a pared-down bergère. Keep the scale large enough to feel inviting and the seating cushioned and comfy; you want guests to flop down and settle in without a second thought.
Look closer: This living space is filled with clean-lined pieces that have a sculptural air — look how the shapely armchair balances the nipped-and-tucked sofa. The round ottoman and demilune table echo the circular motif of the folding screen.
Style Secret: Neutral Flooring
Flooring tends to be a background player in transitional rooms. It's less about the material than about the color — you can go with natural woods, stone, tile, carpeting and more, as long as they're kept to a subtle, restrained palette. And this style also gives you a lot of leeway to combine multiple floor surfaces throughout a home (though not, preferably, in the same room).
Look closer: The muted stone tile in this bathroom minds its manners, but its variegated patterns add a little spice. Carrying it partway up the walls gives it more presence and prevents the white tones from feeling clinical.
Style Secret: Textural Touches
You can't rely on color to punch up a transitional space, but texture rises to the challenge admirably. Coarsely woven fabrics, natural fibers and a blend of matte and shiny finishes lend a sense of layering and help the room pop.
Think leather, sisal, burlap, chenille, rattan and more — any material with tactile appeal will fit right in. Don't go overboard, though, or you'll lose the sleek elegance that's so essential to this style.
Look closer: The textures pile up subtly but steadily in this bedroom, from the matelassé coverlet to the wood-framed TV to the rattan desk chair and window blinds. Beaded board on the ceiling riffs on the honed floor planks below. The mélange adds just enough interest without overriding the restrained feel of the space.
Style Secret: Crisp Window Treatments
Bring in balloon valances, billowing draperies or elaborate finials, and a transitional room instantly feels overdressed. Yet if you leave windows bare, you risk casting a chill over the space. Treat windows elegantly but simply: basic panels, bamboo blinds, neutral Roman shades.
Look closer: Layering understated curtain panels over natural blinds or shades, as in this bedroom, is a nearly foolproof way to add depth and texture. The draperies add just enough visual weight without being obtrusive, and the shades keep them from feeling too airy.
Style Secret: Serenity
Above all, a transitional space should feel restful. You're going for an air of peace and ease — sure of itself without being brash, calm without being too quiet. If you sense a discordant note, take a critical look to see what needs pruning or smoothing. Each piece should fit into a unified whole.
Look closer: This transitional bath strikes all the right notes: crisp lines, nuanced textures, and just enough pattern on the floor and the light fixture to spark the mix. The simple Roman shade allows natural light to flood in, but dark cabinetry and trim ground the space so that it doesn't feel as though it could float away.
What's your interpretation of transitional style? Share your thoughts in the Comments!
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