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ann-marie-appletonI thought this month I’d do a brief review of some of the most popular interior design styles that we are asked about. Many styles are borne out of previous styles in response to the changing tastes of people and have evolved into a distinct type of decorative style.

Shabby chic

This is where furniture and furnishings have a distressed appearance, a vintage or antique look, yet rich in detail and soft all at the same time.

Fabrics used to achieve this look tend to be cottons, linens, hemps in pastel/pale colours – bleached and faded works too.

Vintage lace and floral prints are the building blocks of shabby chic. Slip covers on furniture makes this style relaxed and informal. Shabby chic certainly adds a feminine touch to the interior – if you want to toughen this look up, add industrial pieces of furniture.

Wear and tear is visible and a key feature of ‘shabby’ is – don’t fight it!

Accessorise with chandeliers, wooden candlesticks, faded patchworks, flea market finds. Other variations of shabby chic are cottage chic, beachy chic, French and Swedish chic.


This originates from the European culture with the Greek and the Romans the main inspirations of the classic design. It incorporates straight lines, elegant symmetry, is based on balance, order and harmony, and uses no modern elements or fashion trends.

Large focal points are fire, tables and staircase. It uses deep blues, browns, golds, greens and earthy tones on walls and furniture. Think Roman columns, busts and ornate mirrors. Less is more when it comes to accessories, so go for large key pieces which make a statement.


Think soft whites, dove greys, lavenders, muddy pinks, soft greens, pottery vases brimming with fresh flowers that create a homey, cheerful and very welcoming interior style.


Think 1950s, 1960s and 1970s; bold patterns and colours, and geometric repetitive prints.
A fresh modern start engineered to leave World War II behind and get rid of everything old fashioned.

Quite a whimsical look, yet sleek and colourful. Mix oranges and browns together, lemon yellow with turquoise, deep blue and rose red – just think bold!

Circular and curvilinear forms are classic retro. Moulded plastic chairs, formica and vinyl were used a lot in the 50s, so if you use them in your room it will help with the overall retro style.


A modern, current style that is right here and right now! Think clean lines, subtle sophistication, high ceilings, bare walls and exposed structural elements.

Neutrals and black and white are the main colours accented by bold and bright colour blocks. Upholstered furniture is covered in natural fibres and adds textural appeal.

Smooth clean geometric shapes are essential to contemporary design. Furniture pieces are simple and uncluttered, with exposed legs. Floors feature polished concrete, wood, tiles or commercial carpets. The interior showcases the space, rather than the items in a room.

Ann-Marie Appleton is the director of interior design company Frobisher Interiors. She holds a diploma in interior design and is a member of DINZ.

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