What is transitional style? If you love vintage finds and family heirlooms and well-loved furniture then this is the post for you and your transitional style self.

Welcome to Style Week day 4

Monday we talked about coastal style and Tuesday we talked about traditional style and Wednesday we talked about farmhouse style.

And today?

Today is all about eclectic. It’s all about filling a home with the things that you love that may or may not fit together, but somehow they all work because they are wonderfully, creatively, uniquely you.

Welcome to transitional style.

Transitional style is a little of everything. It’s furniture from your mother and quilts from your grandmother and a chair you rescued from the side of the road and an entire closet full of board games that your family has played for years.

A home full of transitional style is a home filled with all the things you love.

When you walk into a transitional style home you know it’s a home that’s well-loved.

And now?

Let’s discuss transitional style and all the things that make it tick.

If this is your first day with us, I wrote a book all about style and how to find it called The DIY Style Finder. We traveled all over the country photographing different houses with different styles—like this amazing living room space from my friend Laura from Finding Home Farms. I thought it might be fun if we took a style a day and talked about it and how to create it and what you can buy to get it and how it looks in pictures.

I wanted to feature some of the pictures from her home that we took.

Especially all the photos that didn’t make the book.

Are you ready to talk transitional style?

Oh, good.

Me, too.

Elements of transitional style

When we start discussing transitional style we throw out the decorating rule book.

(total aside: I love breaking rules—especially ones that start with decorating)

We have to toss the rule book, we can’t help it—because if your home is about transitional style, it’s really all about you and the things that you love.

Here are a few of my favorite elements of transitional style:

  1. family antiques (not ones you bought at a fancy antique store)
  2. repurposed anything
  3. framed artwork (where you’ve met the artist)
  4. reclaimed wood from your family’s farm
  5. accessories with history
  6. vintage metal pieces
  7. family crest
  8. oversized baskets
  9. cutting boards from your grandmother
  10. slipcovered chairs

Transitional style is all about celebrating history

(total aside: aren’t these pictures beautiful? These are some of the ones that we didn’t include in the book)

If your grandmother offers you her china and you say no? This might not be the style for you. If you take your dad’s ties and turn them into a pillow for your mother’s sister’s best family friend’s wood bench? Pull up a seat. I’ll get you some sweet tea.

Transitional style is all about taking history and introducing it to 2019.

Here are a few ways to repurpose history:

  1. frame a piece of history (like your grandfather’s fishing lures)
  2. make picture frames with wood from your family’s farm
  3. create a shelf from an old drawer
  4. decorate with accessories that used to be part of everyday life (like shoe forms or game pieces or glass floral frogs or
  5. make a bench from an old door
  6. layer old picture frames on a mantel
  7. make a wreath out of family pictures
  8. take pieces of molding and create word blocks
  9. use vintage dishes as organizers
  10. take old letters and make a book

Transitional style is all about using what you have

If you take nothing else away from this intense discussion on transitional and all its style, remember this—transitional style isn’t matchy matchy. It’s a look, a feeling, a warm and welcoming decor style that evolves over time. And sometimes? It’s about using what you have in a new way. It’s about shopping your house (or your mother’s house or your grandmother’s house) and changing it up a little and seeing things in a new light.

Here are a few suggestions on ideas for shopping your house to create a new look

  1. Pull all the dishes out of the cupboard in your kitchen and decorate with them.  Don’t be dish shy.  Put them in your hutch or stack them on your counter or fill a bowl with fruit and put it on the kitchen island.
  2. Switch out the pillows on the sofa in your family room.  Find pillows from another room (or your mother’s house) and introduce them to some new friends.
  3. Layer a rug on top of the rug you have.  Here’s an example of a room where I did this.
  4. Switch out baskets from other rooms, too and put pillows and blankets in them for fall.
  5. Add a basket at the top of the stairs for last minute items that need to travel from one floor to another.
  6. Rework the vignette on your coffee table.
  7. Make an end table out of stacked books.
  8. Take everything off your bookcase and re-stack it.

Add a transitional paint color

One of the easiest ways to add a little transitional style to a space is with paint. You can transform a room in a weekend with a new coat of paint in a traditional color. When choosing a paint color for your space, think of color. Layer in color with painted furniture and painted floors and painted rooms.

Here are some of my favorite transitional paint colors:

  1. SW Coral Reef (literally this color is SO PRETTY)
  2. SW Naval (perfect for dark, moody spaces
  3. SW Sunny Veranda (this color will make you smile)
  4. SW Spangle (a fun violet)
  5. SW Sandbar (the perfect neutral for all that color)
  6. SW Alabaster (the best white to layer in color with)

Don’t toss it

If you are a transitional decorator never toss something without looking at it twice. I’m all about saving the planet (and the stuff that’s broken). There’s just a little piece of my heart that goes out to something that’s lived it’s best life and now it’s sad and a little neglected.  I want to encourage it.  I want to lift it up.  I want to clean it up and dust it off.

And decorate with it.

(total aside: this is one of the best ways to save decorating money that I know of)

Here are some ideas for re-decorating with something that you (or someone you love) was about to throw away.

  1. Ladders–we recently were about to throw a ladder that was part of a broken attic pull-down. But instead? I repurposed it into a one-of-a-kind piece. You can read its story here.
  2. Architectural remnants–when I say remnant, I just mean something that was part of something else. Sometimes you don’t even know what it was a part of. It doesn’t matter. Just hang it up on the wall and it becomes art.
  3. Make a shelf–take an old piece of reclaimed wood and make a shelf. It looks so much cuter than a shelf you buy at the store. If you are lucky enough to find beams that someone is discarding or tossing, they make perfect mantels.
  4. Chalkboard—one of my best tips is to take something that’s destined for the trash and put a chalkboard inside it. I’ve done this with windows and frames and even a vintage pool cue hanger.
  5. Furniture–don’t overlook a piece of furniture that someone is throwing away. Sometimes you can save parts of it—like the doors. Here’s one of my favorite doors that I ever saved.

Here are a few transitional style accessories to help you get the look

Click on the links to shop

If you are all about transitional I celebrate you and your wonderful style.

You are a scrabble player.

You are a family dinner hoster.

You are vintage furniture and quilts and screen porches and framed photos and reclaimed family anything and you have the best laugh.

I love your style.

Let’s be friends. 🙂

PS Be sure and check out the rest of the styles and how to get them in my new book, The DIY Style Finder.

Want to know how to decorate your home for free?
Click here to get my FIVE BEST secrets.


  1. Image for Linda Linda

    As I anxiously await my own copy of Style Finder...I believe I now know I am transitional!!! I could never put a label on it, it was simply all the things I love. Thank you.....

  2. Image for Lyn Lyn

    I love transitional - even at my age - retired - I love adding and changing elements in my decor to freshen things up. This morning when our daughter stopped in to drop off her two little girls for the day, she noticed a new more contemporary piece of artwork I had just placed in our foyer over a sofa style table. She raised her eyebrows and said "modern?". She really loved it. Just recently after purchasing a new mattress and box springs we had to buy new larger size bedding due to the height of the mattress. I went with my usual ivory color, but then I added transitional lighting (5 lamps!), and a more transitional side table in brass and glass. Loving it! Love your blog and your enthusiasm - it's infectious!

  3. Image for Regina Merrick Regina Merrick

    You had me at that lampshade . . . I immediately went, "Ooooo!" ;) I love how you describe someone who has come to realize that Transitional style is that style that lets you use what you like and be proud of it! Kind of like that chippy table you blogged about once, that others just didn't understand! :)

  4. Image for Lisa Lisa

    Ummmmm, that lampshade with stitching makes me feel faint (in the best way) 💜💜💜 Transitional is such a fun style.

  5. Image for Sue E Sondker Sue E Sondker

    You have hit the nail on this with me. I now know what I am. I have all you have described. This gives me some peace that I am normal. HUGS

  6. Image for Yvette Yvette

    Transitional!!! Yes!!! This is what I am. My home is filled with things I love and things that others have loved before. I have things that used to be my mom’s, my grandma’s, my boyfriend’s family’s, friend’s, and things that were being thrown away. I have very little “new” things. I love that everywhere I look there is something that reminds me of someone I love or something that has a story or both. My home is definitely me and filled with things that I love and make me happy and make me smile. 🥰

  7. Image for Alice Genzlinger Alice Genzlinger

    My opinion is exactly that , and opinion. However old doesn’t mean traditional, neither does chippy, To me that means country. I see traditional as well made, polished, possibly marble topped chests, oil paintings, beautiful old rugs, well made curtains, etc. Those treasures inherited and passed down from one generation to another. I used to love Traditional Home magazine but have totally lost any interest in the modern look they have decided to call traditional. I hope you will forgive me for disagreeing with you.

    1. Image for Michele M. Michele M.

      This post was about TRANSITIONAL style- the mixing of traditional elements right alongside with little touches of modern and maybe farmhouse styles together. Her Traditional styling post was earlier. So, honestly, I don't think you were actually disagreeing with Karianne at all! : - ) Yay.


    Love this style-so individual!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks for all the great examples and pictures!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. Image for Linda C Johnston Linda C Johnston

    You nailed me to a tee! My daughter read this post and said "OMGosh, Mom, do you know her?!" LOL! She couldn't believe how accurate you were. Thanks for validating me. I love your site and you. You always make my heart smile.

  10. Image for Kathy Kathy

    I think you described me perfectly in this post. There are aspects of ALL the styles that I love My home has a very traditional heart with nods of coastal since we live by water. I love decorating with neutrals and prefer furniture with clean lines. Some of my favorite pieces in my home are things that have been inherited from family members. The grandfather clock that was in my in-laws house , the radio from the 30’s that was a first anniversary gift to my grandmother, a silk panel my father-in-law picked up in China, and my great grandmother’s biscuit bowl to name just a few. I also love abstract art. Could be described as scattered I guess, but I’ll call it Transitional from now on!

  11. Image for Kris Kris

    I, too, love the lampshade. And the wallpaper. My house does not have the wonderful high ceilings and windows that are featured in the first picture .... however .... I have to admit, the overall styling looks more like "me" than anything else you have featured. For me, decorating involves including bits and pieces that reflect everyone in my family. We're a quirky, creative bunch, so that means including my husband's paintings, my daughter's sewing and art projects, and my son's wood burning and homemade wooden village. We also have and end table made by my grandparents and a lamp from my in-laws .... so, yeah. Maybe my style CAN be defined! Who knew???

  12. Image for Marion Marion

    When I took the quiz, I came up Traditional - I agree! But when I see the Transitional furnishings and accessories in this post, I know I must be both! Everything looks so pretty!

  13. Image for Ann C Ann C

    KariAnne, when I worked at a furniture store we referred to pieces that didn’t have their own distinctive style as transitional. Also pieces that were traditional in appearance with just a little modern edge were called transitional. I like your definition of it being what you love. And I do believe this is my style. I have enjoyed this week’s posts, as usual.

  14. Image for Dianne Miley Dianne Miley

    I’m loving style week! So. Much. Fun. My quiz said I’m coastal farmhouse with a little transitional thrown in. 😉

  15. Image for Donnamae Donnamae

    Ohhhh...that lampshade! You found my style for me. I knew there had to be a name for all the vintage+found items+family items+items that I love... in my home. Transitional/eclectic...I’ve learned so much this week! It’s been fun! Enjoy your day! ;)

  16. Image for Suzanne Oberstadt Suzanne Oberstadt

    This is so me. I wouldn't have any other style. Love using something other than what it was meant for. Everyday is any adventure. I even dress this way. I also live in Texas.

  17. Image for Brenda Brenda

    Oh, Kari, this is so me. I love my mother's things that I took after we had to put her in a nursing home. I had to be very selective, since I knew I couldn't take a lot of it. I do have her old bedroom set, some trunks, her Corelle dishes from the 70's or 80's, whenever it was, and a few more items. I told my daughter I was transitional, and she totally agreed. Thank you for your style book. It has so helped me understand why I purchase/pickup the things I do. There's potential in everything I've found to create a new life for it. I love my transitional self.

  18. Image for Dee Turk Dee Turk

    I just love how you put everything, you make it easy for everyone. to understand, the whole style series has just been fabulous! Thank you so much for all the time work and effort that you put into your blog posts. Happy Easter sweet friend!

  19. Image for Pam Pam

    Oh! I never realized what my style is. It always seemed a bit all over the place, but now it makes sense! Thank you! From this quilt loving, family heirloom collector, family diner hosting woman 😊

  20. Image for Diane Diane

    Yeppppp....transitional all the way. From my MIL’s chippendale corner cabinet and 17th century chest on chest, to my mom’s Chinese bench, busts and porcelains, a large giraffe print contemporary rug and a 6 panel Oriental screen from an auction, my sons photography and my embroidery and needlepoint and mosaic pieces as artwork, I’m happiest surrounded by pieces I love. They may say mashup to some, but I love every piece, its history and story. It says home to me..these are the pieces I couldn’t part with when we downsized 6 years ago.

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