Over last the decade, the rules of design have slowly changed. Not only can you wear white after Labour Day, you can also select the accessories for a room before the paint colour. In 2016, the traditional hard and fast rules of interior design may no longer apply: leaving design to be an open book of personal preference and personality. Niagara College Instructor and Interior Designer, Lisa Kelley-DiPalma from LKD Interior Design, teams up with Professional Organizer/Stager, Colleen Donovan at CMD Home Staging, to lend their expertise regarding the different influences in design, how these styles blend together, what types of design to consider when selling your home, and hot trends for 2016.

How have the rules of interior design changed over the years?

“In the past, design styles were definitely more black and white. Now, there is a grey area. The guidelines are softer, more flexible, and a lot less rigid, but certain design principles like scale and proportion are still maintained.” says Kelley-DiPalma. There is also a tendency to see a “mix and match” approach to interior design styles. “It is simple to use a certain element of one aspect of a style even though you don’t like the taste,” she says. “You can incorporate grandma’s heirlooms into your design, even if you are not into antiques. For example, painting a French Bergere chair gloss black.”

1. Country

Warm and comforting, white and pastel colours like light green, lavender or primrose yellow, fit nicely with a country themed room. Although the country look is less cluttered than a Victorian room, the use of florals is still predominant in the design. Checkered patterns, floral chintz, polished oak finishes, or a simple walk in the garden can inspire this theme. “Country often overlaps with rustic as there is a wood feel to it,” says Kelley-DiPalma. “We may see a herringbone pattern of the floor in the mud room,” says Kelley-DiPalma.

“It is also easily mixed with traditional.” adds Donovan.

2. Tuscan

Are you feeling like you need a getaway from the hectic pace of everyday life? Perhaps an escape to the hills of Italy will help. Tuscan design includes terracotta, marble statues, and the sound of water flowing from a fountain. With high ceilings, sturdy wood furniture, and lots of greenery, this rustic feel makes a warm and inviting design. “Tuscan designs are very popular in restaurants,” says Kelley-DiPalma. “We see a lot of clay floors and wrought iron accessories in these commercial designs reminiscent of a winery in Italy.”

3. Zen

Peaceful, tranquil, and natural are three words that embody a Zen interior design. The use of calm, neutral colours, and clean lines are a few of the design principles associated with the harmonious Zen Philosophy, “A Zen look is popular in bathrooms where you can bring in a spa- like feel by using natural plants and stones. Woods like teak give the bathroom an earthy look and work well with moisture,” states Kelley-DiPalma.

4. Art Deco

Art Deco was introduced at the 1925 Exposition in Paris, France and the bold and colourful design quickly became all the rage. Deco, short for decorative, uses bold decorations, mirrors, and circle motifs. “Art deco uses wood, metal, glass, and marble. Heavy molded plastics and strong lines mixed with curves are also used,” explains Kelley-DiPalma. This style, mostly found in office spaces, was a very influential style in its time period. “We tend to see a lot of buildings with the Art Deco appeal in larger cities like New York.”

5. Modern

Modern design is influenced by the machine age and incorporates steel and concrete elements into the design. “Traditional modern design has an uncluttered look with clean and sophisticated lines,” says Kelley-DiPalma. Open floor plans, oversized tiles, sanded wood floors that reduce the appearance of grains, and bookcases built into the walls are features of a modern design. Painting a brick wall white can easily assist in achieving a modern look.

“It is usually not functional for families, as the design of the furniture may have sharp edges and less storage for children’s toys. However, with help there is a way to work in storage with a modern home,” adds Kelley-DiPalma.

“A modern look pairs well with contemporary as contemporary is a softer version of modern,” states Donovan.

6. Contemporary

“Contemporary design refers to what is popular or used right now, at the moment. It is ever changing and encompasses a range of styles from different eras,” explains Donovan. A contemporary look features smooth furniture, minimal accessories, open concept, and natural light. Neutral colours adorn the walls and a splash of colour may enter the design in the accessories or art work. “Simple geometric elements such as waves or circles are used on throw cushions, centrepieces, blankets, or large wall art,” adds Donovan. “There are few rules in this causal and comfortable design.”

7. Antique

Spending hours at an antique sale searching for the perfect find is a popular pastime as heirlooms and artifacts are the inspirations behind antique designs. “Antiques can be from any period, but a true antique is a piece that is at least 100 years old,” states Kelley-DiPalma. The craftsmanship that is engrained in the detail of these frames and mahogany or rosewood bureaus further define the design style.

8. Shabby Chic

“Shabby Chic is a spin-off of the Vintage look from the 50s, 60s and 70s,” says Kelley-DiPalma. “The colours are mostly pastels and it uses neutral slip coverings and has a pretty feel to it.” Features of the low cost design can be easy to acquire. “Shabby chic incorporates those flea market or estate sale finds like a tea cup,” adds Kelley-DiPalma. Antique frames, chandeliers, and feminine vintage knobs are all ways to create a shabby chic look.

“In this design the wood of the furniture has a worn look to it,” adds Donovan.

“Vintage and Shabby Chic are in the same family and both have an eclectic look,” concludes Kelley-DiPalma.

9. Victorian

Tapestries, brocades, and velvet defines the ornate and extravagant style of the Victorian era. “Victorian style reflects the period of Queen Victoria’s reign, from 1837 until 1901,” states Donovan. It can be suggested that Victorian design has had a long reign because people are more comfortable recreating the past; especially a theme of the wealthy. This design often includes floral and striped wallpaper, patterned furniture, wall scones, and draperies. “Victorian décor can be perceived as cluttered unless it is strategically placed to create a romantic atmosphere. When tastefully and skillfully embellished, one can create an elegant and sophisticated space,” concludes Donovan.

What is new for 2016?

“Grey was the new black, and although it is still really popular, we are trying to break away from it by keeping it neutral and matching it with new colours,” says Kelley-DiPalma.

The grey will be mixed with the Pantone colours of the year which are a rose petal pink called Rose Quartz and a blue called Serenity,” says Donovan.

What should homeowners think about when decorating?

“Knowing the needs of the individual or family is an important aspect in planning your design. I recommend that my clients go on-line and get an idea of what they like. The next biggest aspect is their budget. I suggest they add 15% to their budget for contingencies,” explains Kelley-DiPalma.

Thinking of selling your home?

“When staging a home to sell, it is important to keep things neutral in order to appeal to the masses,” states Donovan. “A contemporary look with soft colours on the wall and pops of colour are the way to go.”  Donovan always explains to her clients that although personal items have sentimental value, they limit the buyer’s pool. “Designers like Lisa accessorize and fill the space. In staging to sell, we want to empty it,” laughs Donovan. “It’s not about what I like, or what the homeowner likes, it’s what the majority of buyers like,” concludes Donovan.