What sets Transitional Furniture apart from Modern and Traditional Furniture?

A Transitional Style Leather Sofa
A Transitional Style Leather Sofa

Transitional Furniture

Transitional furniture bridges the gap between traditional interior design and modern style, mirroring the neutral color scheme of modern design and the more rounded, less angular shapes of traditional leather furniture. The aim is to create a classic, timeless design by combining the strengths of contemporary furniture, materials and fabrics with the essential staying power of traditional fixtures.

Designers Nina Petronzio and Barbara Barrie are particularly well known for their work in transitional interior design. Inspired to study interior design in Italy, Petronzio has designed private projects for Leonardo DiCaprio and James Franco, and set pieces for films including Spider-Man 2, Mission Impossible: 2, Heroes and Nip/Tuck. Barbara Barrie is better known for her career as a screen actress, a Tony, Emmy and Academy Award winner. Other noted designers working with transitional furniture include Sally Sirkin Lewis, Thomas Pheasant, and Maxine Snider.

The lines of transitional furniture are simple yet sophisticated, and can be either straight or rounded in profile. Usually the lines are straight or have soft, sweeping curves. Unlike modern leather furniture, transitional furniture can be overstuffed and curvy, balancing the masculine and feminine attributes of contemporary design contrasts. The scale of each piece should be ample but not imposing, and like modern furniture there tends to be a lack of ornamentation and a focus on simplicity.

Dark brown, taupe, tan or vanilla are typical colors for a transitional leather sofa, whereas in a modern style black, white or gray are more common. A room decorated in a transitional style is fairly lacking in bright colors, unlike the use of negative space to set off colorful accent pieces in modern minimalist interior design. Hence warm neutral colors keep the room from feeling naked, and dark brown as a contrast against taupe or vanilla is sufficient to create visual interest.

Traditional Style in Furniture Design

Traditional furniture is heavier and more intimidating in scale than a transitional piece, but also conforms to a fairly neutral color palette of beige or brown. Unlike contemporary furniture with its fashion-forward design, transitional style prioritizes comfort and practicality. For example, a traditional leather recliner combines well with a transitional leather sofa in a living room that is roomy enough for two large pieces of furniture but needs to save some space as well.

To fill out a transitional room, fall back on minimalist ideas for accessories like a potted orchid by the window. But instead of colorful abstract wall art, look for art photography in subdued colors that can be matted in simple black frames. An Ansel Adams print is an especially popular choice.

A butterfly table can hold a candle set or a coffee table book. If you have collectibles to display a transitional cabinet with glass doors could be a good fit. If you have a piano, situating it in a transitional room is an easy way to ensure its unique design meshes well with your other furniture. A tea tray set is also sometimes used as an accent piece, usually in silver. The tray can be used to hold a set of white candlesticks instead.

Chesterfield Style Traditional Leather Chair
Chesterfield Style Traditional Leather Chair

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Transitioning into Modern Style

Modern furniture is definitely the new trend in many households. So if you are using modern furniture instead, keep the room minimalist in design and use brighter colors for accent pillows. A red or orange square area rug can also off-set the neutral palette of modern furniture nicely. One of the first steps to convert into transitional, and eventually modern design is the use of abstract art. An abstract painting in brilliant primary colors is enough color for an entire room, and the furniture and walls can be entirely black and white. You can also use a painting to add just enough color to brighten up a room, something that is Mid-century Modern in style and minimalist in design. Wall art can be quite complicated to integrate into your d├ęcor, so seek a company that specializes in modern and abstract art before buying just any piece.

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hellovictoria profile image

hellovictoria 2 years ago from Atlanta

thank you for the great article! I am moving soon so I was interested in reading to gain some decoration ideas. I appreciate your post!


lucullan profile image

lucullan 2 years ago from Miami, Florida Author

Sure thing, hope you find what you are looking for. Would love to get your input on the Poll on the article.

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