Mixing Styles in Interior Design Is the Best Way to Tell Your Story

Mixing Styles in Interior Is the Best Way to Tell Your Story

Think about it, life is a journey. It’s filled with memories of the past, as you live in the present and dream about the future. So many layers are created along the way, resulting in a robust, diversified, multi-dimensional existence. If your home is to reflect who you truly are as a person, a couple, or a family, shouldn’t it then weave a mix of styles that tell your history and personal story like an intricate tapestry?

At The Red Shutters, we believe in timeless design with a global influence that expresses our clients’ experiences, lifestyle and aspirations. By mixing four core design styles – Traditional, Modern, Cultural and Fun – we’re able to create unique interiors that effortlessly convey who our clients are and what’s meaningful to them. The result is a space with a sense of self-expression, happy memories, comfort – and connection.

I like the four styles to represent my work because I feel wholeheartedly that the design has an authentic feel that speaks to many instead of few,” says Marina Case, The Red Shutters principal designer.

“Effectively mixing these four styles helps you connect to all kinds of people when they walk into a space. As an example of the cultural connection, a client recently visited my home and connected with two 19th century Chinese ancestor portraits in my foyer. The client, who is of Asian descent, excitedly identified them as Chinese royalty, which led to a deeper conversation that we would never have had but for those decor elements.”

Incorporating Cultural Elements

Global influences in design are nothing new. Great design incorporates elements from a variety of cultures. One way to add cultural elements that speak to you is by collecting items on your travels, like textiles or pottery indiginous to the country you’re visiting, a Buddha statue, or even antique books in a foreign language. Or, you could work with an interior designer who will elicit the global influences that inspire you and help you source items from galleries and antique shops.

There are so many ways to incorporate cultural elements into your space. While paintings immediately come to mind, think also of rugs, which are really art on your floor. Or a unique piece of pottery that was turned into a lamp or used as a vase. Even something that might not initially resonate as cultural, like a hand blown Murano chandelier, is a beautiful layering design piece.

Never Underestimate the Importance of Fun!

Fun elements not only speak to who you are, they also make a space feel happy – and they’re great conversation starters. “I recently had a group of women who were on a girls weekend at my home through airbnb and they connected with a ballerina painting – they even started calling the room the ballerina room,” says Marina. “I love to do the unexpected – adding a pop of color, incorporating a whimsical element – it’s what makes a space interesting and relatable.”

At The Red Shutters, we bring the fun through simple things like colorful textiles, vibrant wallpapers, eye-catching tilework, even a vase of inviting flowers.

Why Mixing Design Styles Just Works Better

Most people have an understanding of Traditional and Modern design concepts and may even be drawn to the mix of both, which is referred to as Transitional. But it’s when you combine them with Cultural and Fun elements, that you are able to create personal visual stories that look as though they’ve been layered throughout decades. The vibe is a gallery of culture and life, that while interesting, is also comfortable and livable. The trick is to balance color and scale by introducing things in the right hues and that are properly sized for the room.

“I even use these four elements in the way I dress!” says Marina. “I’ll pair a 19th century lace blouse with a very cropped modern pair of cigarette pants from the 60s with a handmade bracelet from Thailand and a pop of fun color in my shoes – that’s how much I believe in and embody this process. I find it’s an expression of connection, and I love the human condition.”

If you peruse our Portfolio, Facebook, Instagram and Houzz pages, you’ll see examples of our four style design process, and below you’ll find some inspiration images that weave in the fun and cultural elements.

This shot from the Glenmere Mansion Cottage Project is the perfect example of how mixing things up gives interest and character to a space. We brought in traditional elements with the stripes on the couch, the paneling on the wall and the garden carpet. Then paired these with the modern paint scheme, the clean lines of the staircase, and the soaring height of the ceiling.

As soon as you walk through the door your attention is immediately drawn to the zebra skin hanging over the stair rail which adds a cultural element and some unexpected fun!

Of course, all of the items tell the homeowner’s story making this home unique and timeless.

This retreat in Tuxedo Park, New York blends all four styles. The modern mirror is balanced by the traditional cabinet and colorful pottery. The room is anchored by the cultural handmade eastern carpet and the more transitional dining set. And then it’s accessorized with a bit of the unexpected – the gorgeous African neck ornament on the side table.

Mixing Styles in Interior Is the Best Way to Tell Your Story

The Glenmere Spa indulges every sense, lavishing guests with exclusive bespoke services collected from around the globe, so its design needed to have cultural influences as well. The Moroccan/gothic arches in the spa’s Bath House and Hammam paired with the traditional Carrara marble evoke vibes that transport you to distant lands, instilling relaxation and retreat.

These bathrooms from a project in Cape Cod, pair more traditional neutral tiles and beadboard with pops of colorful wallpaper in fun patterns. The cultural element is brought in through the mirrors, while the fixtures lend a contemporary feel.

Paired with an antique sideboard and framed by traditional lamps, this Suzani wall hanging enjoys a place of honor. The fun print brings both a pop of color and a cultural element to the dining room in which it hangs.

A Suzani is a Uzbek embroidery using silk hand needlework on a handwoven linen cloth. These have carved a distinct niche in the antique textile market and come from Samarkand and Bokhara and feature lovely rosettes and related floral elements characteristic to each locale’s tradition.

While spas should be tranquil, they don’t need to be boring. We brought life into the more neutral treatment room at the Glenmere Spa through the tilework. It not only brings a much needed pop of color to the room, it evokes Mediterranean vibes, which also foster a feeling of escape.


Ready to Get Started Transforming Your Space?


There are so many ways in addition to pattern to breathe fresh life into a home. View my Portfolio to see more examples of my interior design projects and follow us on Instagram for more interior design inspiration.


About Marina Case

Years of experience and understanding of the history of design provides Marina with the ability to read each client so she can create spaces that truly reflect who they are. Marina, who has been honored as one of the Top 50 New York Designers, as well as a Houzz Influencer, has her pulse on the interior design industry. She stays on top of the latest trends, participates in a leading collaborative national network of designers, and frequently shares her creative and professional ideas with trade professionals.