Seven Popular Interior Design Styles​

What makes an interior show its Style? Have you seen images of rooms that you like, but you wonder what makes it a particular style? Never fear, we’re here to help! Although we could write an entire blog post for each style, we will list some of the elements that are particular to each style. Traditional  Identifiable patterns and fabrics such as florals, paisleys, brocades, velvets.Rich colors such as jewel tones combined with warm whites (usually no pure whites)Metals tend to be brass, gold or nickel, never chrome Chandeliers and scones with glass crystals or other blown glass elementsMulti-layered trims and woodwork detailsClassic furniture styles with fine finishes and inlaysAll types of hand knotted vintage oriental rugsMultiple patterns and colors in the same room (this is why a good traditional interior needs a deft and experienced hand) Victorians did this well. Transitional    Smaller scale patterns and stripes, but can include paisleys and geometricsWarm color paletteMetals include brushed nickel and oil rubbed bronzeChandeliers without crystalsTrims and woodwork are traditional but simplerGeometric, simpler oriental rugs that can be newly made in more contemporary softer colorsClassic but simple furniture, still with fine finishSimilar to traditional design, but simpler, less saturated color palettesCan include some more modern elements, but overall still classic Mid-Century Modern  Natural materials such as wood, cork, wool, glassSolid soft colors, less pattern, and use of tertiary colors like olive green, teal blue and mustard yellow, neither pastels nor brightsWood (mostly walnut) elements on walls end even in light fixturesMetal finishes are brushed steel.Simple modern details such as a very low baseboard and trimModern furniture and classic linesArea rugs can be vintage geometric Orientals, flat weaves or more modern solid colorsWarm and easy to live with. Can incorporate Asian elements as well  Modern Contemporary  Geometric patterns, bold colors and new materials such as acrylic and shiny metallic wallpapersWhite walls with accents of primary color palette, including secondary colors of orange, purple and green, as well as accents of metallic geometric wallpapersMetal finishes chrome and use of acrylic panels to float heavy furniture piecesLighting Chrome and white globes that reflect what is around them, and recessed lighting that disappearsMinimal trim, often using reveals rather than trim to cover jointsHard edge crisp geometric forms for furnitureUse of sculpture and bold abstract artMinimal accessories and clutter: lots of built-ins: sleek Farmhouse Modern/Rustic Modern/Industrial Modern  Natural and rustic wood in furniture and wall treatmentsLots of pure white, with accents of red or blue (navy and white is a favorite) or other clean colorsMetal finishes are black or brushed steelLighting can incorporate industrial elements such as case ribbed glassUltra-simple square edge trim and woodwork detailsFurniture can be hand painted or raw wood, think rustic farmhouse tables and traditional furniture like a wing chair upholstered in modern colorsKilim flat weave rugs or tribal rugs fit the casual vibePreppy but not perfect: industrial but not sleek Funky/Artsy/Memphis  Mismatched FurnitureFearless bold color paletteHandmade accessories and lighting fixturesBlack or brushed steel metalsLots of art and locally made arts and craftsArtisan made rugs or grandma’s oriental rugsArtisan furniture, or furniture with artsy fabrics, think Mackenzie Childs for a bit of whimsyCan incorporate Asian elementsSome overlap with rustic and eclectic. Beware of a mismatch overload Eclectic  Any set of materials can workAny color palette can workAny style lighting can workDetailing can be fancy or simpleFurniture can be any styleAny style of rug can workEclectic melds multiple styles into an environment, such as Asian with Modern, or Brooklyn Industrial with farmhouse Rustic, or it can be as simple as putting ultra-Modern lighting into a Traditional style room. The Key to a successful eclectic style and to avoid a jumbled mess, is to select just two styles, and be consistent in their application/use. If you have a lot of experience with mixing style, you can probably get away with combining three styles. Fashion magazines often will combine the latest designer couture with something vintage or off the rack. To me, the eclectic style has the most risk and the most reward. Having lived through so many design trends over the years, I feel that the eclectic style can allow you to keep your favorite things (That bring you joy, as Marie Kondo would say) while adding new things and paring down objects that don’t fill a design or emotional need. A note from Leslie Saul. I have a traditional shingle style colonial house on an urban sized lot, in a neighborhood that has been developed over the past two hundred years. Every house is traditional, but they do not look alike. I knew that I wanted to respect my house’s arts and crafts style roots 1911, but I also wanted to incorporate modern elements. I wanted some spaces to be filled with light and other spaces rich and cozy. As I have collected art and furniture over the years, I have pieces from many eras: a Victorian Sofa, and aesthetic movement breakfront, some modern Italian dining Chairs and a cantilevered dining table from the 1980’s a sectional from the 1970’s, contemporary kitchen stools from 2018. An artist painted my floors in the Kitchen that are a bit like Alhambra meets the Jetsons, and she also painted chicken scratched coral and gold strié­ walls in the dining room, and hand painted watercolor peach drapery that I rescued from a dumpster for the living room. Calm peachy light gold silk wallcovering in the living room looks great with the rescued drapes. My art collection spans from student art from 1970’s RISD, to 20th century masters whose work is in museums, to my own paintings not close to that caliber, but fun, to some inherited Asian art and Porcelain vases from my in-laws, and some watercolors by Cincinnati artists from my parents. As I describe all of this, I realize that this sounds like a hot mess! Perhaps this is a lesson in what NOT to do. However, the effect is warm and layered and I see my life surrounding me.  It doesn’t look like something from a traditional or a modern magazine cover, but it feels like home. Its lack of a specific style makes it timeless. My design tastes and my intellectual interests are wide ranging. Since I think that life is messy, unpredictable and complicated, I do not believe that real life can fit into a minimalist modern box. What is your style? Do you fit comfortably in to one of these seven popular styles? Or perhaps you think you have no style at all?! Are you fond of a variation of one of the styles? Contact us through our website and let us know what you think. We can have some fun with quick quizzes that can help us discover the right style for you. We are passionate about the power of design, whether you use it at work, or as you play, age, live, or learn ​

National Design Week

It’s National Design Week!  Get off your sofa and take a walking tour of your town or neighborhood, or maybe go to a newly developed part of your local area. You may have passed many places in the course of your normal life, but have you ever actually looked around carefully enough to see that Design lurks everywhere!  If you don’t know where to go, contact the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects, who may offer or connect you to, local architecture walking tours, many of which are wheelchair friendly. There are buildings to see, interiors to investigate, signage to notice for more than the information upon them, there is fashion to try on, even if you think it’s crazy, and gardens and parks to explore. You may have ignored more of these places than you have paid attention to them, but each of them was actually designed by someone or a team of someone’s. Enjoy a full immersion in a restaurant: architecture, interior design, graphic design, sound design, lighting design, acoustic design (sometimes not), and even menu planning and plating design. A restaurant is a great place to pay attention to design, whether you like the design or not. What do you think that the designers were trying to communicate to you? Did they want it friendly, snobby, industrial, sophisticated, trendy? Make a guess, because whatever you feel is valid, even if that isn’t what the restauranteur or design team intended. Other areas of Design include apps for your phone.  Did the designers make it easy or hard to use? Is it beautiful or merely functional? Did the designers understand that the people who use the app may have differing abilities? Try going to a museum for some design inspiration.  Pay attention to the architecture of the museum.  Find out if they have a design area that focuses on industrial design and furniture design.  If you are lucky enough to be in New York City, check out the Cooper Hewitt Museum of Design, or the design department of the Museum of Modern Art. In Boston, we have the Design Museum, a museum without a building but with many exhibitions that explore or prove the concept that Design is Everywhere! Some past exhibits include outdoor benches, playgrounds, and prosthetics. Once you’re a pro at looking for design, it’s fun to try to guess what the designers had in mind.  At Leslie Saul & Associates, architecture and interiors, we think design should be intentional, and not haphazard or by accident. Please let us know if you uncover some great design that you never noticed before. Paying attention to design is fun, it’s mostly free and it’s timely, because you will be celebrating National Design Week!​

Where do you see beauty?​

We enjoyed a great weekend in Williamstown, MA. We played golf in the mornings, went to museums in the afternoons, and went to the theater in the evenings.  It was fantastic! As we drove down the main drag, also known as Route 2, Williams College, various churches, and private homes are set back but visible from the road. We noticed that this little stretch of real estate is a mini history of American architecture, that reflect the popular architectural styles of their eras. Here’s what we saw: a minimally detailed, elegant classic white Georgian colonial, typical of the turn of the 18th-19th century, but which could have been built as a Colonial Revival from the first half of the 20th century;  a stick style Victorian with the steeply pitched gabled roof and decorative trusses at the apex of the gables, typical of mid-late 19th century;a high Victorian  Queen Anne style, with all of the towers, asymmetry, doodads and fussy details that are typical of the turn of the 19th-20th century;a stone building on the south side of the road that is typical of the Richardsonian Romanesque, with its round top arches, popular also at the turn of the 19th and 20th century;a Farmhouse style house or maybe a bed and breakfast;a 1980’s post-modern building, andthe Williamstown Theater Building designed by William Rawn Associates which was completed in 2008. Okay, I didn’t see a building on this particular stretch of Route 2 that is a typical Craftsman style from the early 20th century, or a ranch house from the mid-20th century (although we did see a 1940’s style two story house). As might be expected, we didn’t see any ‘brutalist” buildings of the 1970’s. Each of these buildings may not be the best example of its era, but they all help me imagine what life was like in their time, what the designers were hoping to communicate to the public or to their owners, and how the town has evolved over time. I find it fascinating how the buildings of such different styles talk to or ignore each other. People ask me what my favorite architectural style is.  I answer that I can find beauty in all of them! The architectural richness of the buildings combined with the gorgeous Massachusetts tree-covered mountains that surround Williamstown make this particular stretch of Route 2 worth visiting…especially in the summer or fall.  It’s only a 3 hour drive out Route 2 from Boston, and you get the opportunity to see a permanent “exhibit” of the history of architecture! Photo credits Virginia and Lee McAlester, prints by Doug TomlinsonVirginia and Lee McAlester, prints by Doug TomlinsonSouth Carolina Department of Archives and HistoryVirginia and Lee McAlester, prints by Doug TomlinsonWikipediaVirginia and Lee McAlester, prints by Doug TomlinsonWestern Reserve Historical SocietyCarleton Knight IIIWayne McCall Would you like to take a walking tour of the architecture of Boston or Miami? Give us a call.  Maybe we’ll learn about where you find beauty. Contact us​

Deep Space Exploration or an LS&A Specialty?​

LS&A is proud to announce the completion of the Chandra X-Ray Observatory Mission Control relocation from Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA to Burlington, MA. Architecture: Hudson Design Group, Interior Design: Leslie Saul & Associates Lighting design: HLB Boston.

Too Large? Too Small? Or Just Right? The Goldilocks Effect​

A potential client asked whether we were too small for their project. She asked what would happen if one of us got “hit by a bus.” It’s a great question, no matter the size of a firm. Usually there is one person who knows the most about each project. In our firm, Monique, Suma and I are in constant communication, so we all know a lot about each project.

Playing to the crowd

LS&A is proud to announce that our project is featured in the August 2019 Boston Magazine, SPACES article entitled “Playing to the Crowd”

Celebrate Independence; Remember why we celebrate July 4th.​

One of Thomas Jefferson’s last letters was written on June 24, 1826, declining the invitation from the Mayor of Washington, DC to join a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. All three surviving signers of the Declaration declined the Mayor’s invitation due to their poor health...

Gamboge Yellow, a color with some potty humor, I mean history​

Have you ever heard of the yellow known as Gamboge? According to Kassia St. Clair in The Secret Livesof Color (Penguin Books c. 2016), “Gamboge is the solidified sap of Garcinia trees, and comes primarilyfrom Cambodia, or Camboja as it was once known, which is how Gamboge got its name.” Here in New England, when we think of the tapping the sap of trees, we imagine Maple Syrupproduction, with dripping sap flowing into buckets hanging off trees. Every Maple tree over 12” indiameter can produce 10-20 gallons of sap. Some Maple trees can fill the bucket in as little as half a day.By contrast, Garcinia tree sap takes a year to fill the bucket and harden into the form that getsprocessed for pigment. Artists in the Far East and India used Gamboge for hundreds of years on scrolls, illustrated oversizedletters at the beginning of paragraphs, paintings and miniatures. When the first pigment reached Europein 1603 on a Dutch India ship, artists were thrilled to get to use a yellow as bright as the sun. Rembrandtused Gamboge to color the haloes on his paintings. Turner and Reynolds also loved it. According to St.Clair, William Hooker, landscape painter and botanist, mixed Gamboge with a little Prussian Blue tomake “Hooker’s Green, the perfect color for painting leaves.” But watch out, those of you who want the perfect yellow or green. The pigment was also used by 19 thcentury doctors as an excellent purgative. “A small amount produced profuse discharges, while largerdoses could be FATAL” (my CAPS!) St. Clair writes that the workers at Winsor & Newton who crushedthe solidified Garcinia tree sap to make the Gamboge pigment would have to rush to the toilet once anhour while working with it! A French physicist, Jean Perrin, won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1926 after using Gamboge to proveEinstein’s theory of Brownian Motion. In the early 20 th Century Gamboge was replaced by aureolin, an artificial yellow that was not as brightnor as translucent as Gamboge, but was resistant to fading. Winsor and Newton continued to make andsell the authentic natural Gamboge until 2005, when stopping production must have left artistsdisappointed, but workers relieved. On this rainy June day, think of the happy yellow of sunshine, Gamboge. (I hope you can avoid the pottyimagery as you think of this particular yellow). Color can change your attitude. If you have a desire to add color to your office, retail store, restaurant, senior living facility, privatehome, synagogue, church, college or other learning environment, please call! Let us put color to workfor you. Contact us through our website on this link:​

Why Diversity and Inclusion? Inclusion makes for Diversity, which makes for Sustainability​ 

Nature in its purest form is a great model for how to make life sustainable, circle of life, and so on. Early humans lived in a nomadic life as they followed the natural abundance of food as those food sources changed seasonally. They hunted ...

Why Generalists Succeed in a Specialists’ World​

I was inspired by David Epstein’s book: Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World Epstein proposes that despite the pressure to start kids on violin or golf at an early age to guarantee mastery, there is another path to success: letting kids try many different sports and/or instruments and even musical genres. Specialists who have achieved at the highest level ...


Leslie Saul & Associates, Inc.

architecture and interiors

Cambridge Office:
1972 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140
Office: 617.234.5300

Leslie Saul & Associates, Inc.

architecture and interiors

Leslie Saul & Associates, Inc.

architecture and interiors

architecture and interiors