What Transitional Style Really Means and Other Design Styles Decoded

A recent Houzz survey showed that Millennials and Baby Boomers lean toward different styles for their kitchens. Millennial homeowners are more likely to opt for Modern or Farmhouse while Traditional style is nearly twice as popular with Boomers. Contemporary has passed Transitional as the top kitchen style.

So what is Transitional style and how is it different from Contemporary? And what is the difference between Traditional and Farmhouse style?

Here’s a quick overview of the main design styles:

Traditional: Traditional design harkens from classic European interiors. Think wing-backed chairs, claw footed tables, deep wood tones and curved lines. A typical room arrangement includes a symmetrical balance of furniture pairs around a focal point, such as two sofas flanking a fireplace. Antiques or replicas of old pieces are often incorporated.


Modern: Modern style refers to the sleek, pared down architectural and interior design that emerged between the 1920s and 1950s. Ornate carvings and dark woods were replaced with a “less is more” aesthetic that celebrated clean lines, simplicity, chrome, stainless steel and molded plastics in furnishings.


Contemporary: Contemporary style is often confused with modern, but it is actually a medley of styles that originated in the latter half of the 20th century. Furnishings feature softer, more rounded lines than the hard-edged pieces typical of modern design, but it still celebrates uncluttered space and airiness.


Transitional: If you combine the textures and comfort of traditional style with the clean lines and airiness of contemporary, you get transitional. Transitional style blends elements to create a cohesive look that is lighter and less heavy than traditional, but cozier than contemporary.


Cottage: Cottage style exudes comfort with a healthy dose of nostalgia. Flea market finds, repurposed objects, beadboard walls, simple artwork, and lots of baskets all celebrate a simpler time. Cottage style is all about unpretentious comfort and hominess.


Farmhouse: Like Cottage style, Farmhouse style creates the ambiance of a simpler time, but it is more solid, less frilly than its Cottage cousin. Farmhouse style creates an idealized vision of the authentic, down-to-earth comfort of a solidly built, American farmhouse. Think rough-hewn beams, covered porches, hefty sinks, sliding barn doors, light colors and solid, simple, comfortable furnishings.


We love creating wonderful homes in any style. Some of our favorite projects involved transforming a traditional floorplan into open, airy contemporary or transitional spaces. To find out more, please give us a call or use our contact form.

Tags: home design, architectural design, design trends

Design/Build Partner Spotlight: Lisa Wasserman Sivan

Boston area kitchen renovation

Morse Constructions is a design/build firm.  This means that you may choose us for all services from initial design, to construction, to finishing touches instead of hiring separate services from an architect, space planner and/or interior designer.

We assemble a design team that is best suited to your goals and your project. One of our Lisa Wasserman Sivanmost frequent collaborators is Lisa Wasserman Sivan.  Lisa and Morse first worked together years ago to create an open, airy kitchen/mudroom in a West Newton home (see photo above). Currently, we are collaborating on a Somerville condo renovation and a whole house renovation/addition for an historic residence in Arlington.

How does the design/build collaboration work? What are the advantages? We asked Lisa to share her perspective with our readers in the following Q & A.

Q: Thanks for joining us, Lisa. You and Morse Constructions have worked well together on a number of projects. What do you feel is the secret to this effective design/build collaboration?

A: It has a lot to do with listening and communicating with the homeowner and the whole team. Everybody comes to the table with different expertise and ideas. If you respect this, then everybody is working together toward a shared vision. This leads to more creative ideas because different perspectives are incorporated. The end result is fresh, creative and innovative.

Q: Are you finished your job when construction begins?

A: When I collaborate with Morse Constructions, the services are completely integrated from beginning to end of the project. During the design phase, there is a lot of give-and-take to make sure that designs can be constructed within the budget. Sometimes we save money through smart building, which opens up more design options. There’s always movement and flexibility between design and construction. When building begins, the collaboration continues. We work as a team until the vision is fully realized.

Q: What are the advantages to the homeowner with design/build?

A:  Since the designer and builder are working together from the outset, you know that what is designed is achievable within the established budget. There are a lot of checks and balances that are built in to the system, so you’re going to know exactly what to expect every step of the way. You’re also going to have a team that works together, rather than protecting turf. I think this is the most effective way to realize a vision and create highly functional, imaginative design.

Q: Do you stay involved after construction to help clients with finish selections and furnishings?

A: It is up to the client. Some homeowners want to select their own paint colors, light fixtures and so on. Others want help creating finished spaces. I have some projects that are purely interior design.

Read more about Morse’s six-step design/build process or contact us for more information.


Tags: Massachusetts renovation, design/build, architectural design