My family has been building homes in the Lowcountry since the 1970s.
We strive to give our clients the exact design they want in their new homes. For most of them, we are building their “forever home,” and we get a lot of special requests, which we always strive to deliver. While we pride ourselves on delivering the quintessential Lowcountry-style home, we’re getting an increasing number of requests for a relatively new style of interior finish, called “transitional.”
What is transitional design? It’s a major design influence in new homes, remodeling and redecorating. Think of it as a blend of traditional and contemporary styles, somewhere between old world traditional and contemporary chrome and glass. The name “transitional” might even be a bit of a misnomer. Maybe it would be better described as “updated classic” or “cohesive eclectic.” The “transition” actually comes from how the style allows you to move back and forth between styles, using elements from one style and then another to create a completely new style all its own. It’s the best of both worlds.
Debi Lynes, a successful interior designer in this area for over 35 years, explained it to us.
“It’s nearly impossible to find homes that are exclusively one style anymore. It’s important to tailor your home to your lifestyle, or to the lifestyle you want to achieve, and transitional design is perfect for that.”
One of the greatest benefits of transitional style is that it gives you a license to experiment. Maybe you have family antiques that are important to you, but you want a more contemporary look. Or maybe you have family antiques that are important to you, but you want a more contemporary look. Or maybe you like one style but your spouse prefers another—or you have an older home and want a creative way to introduce sleek, contemporary elements without losing your home’s traditional charm.
That’s part of the appeal of transitional style—you can blend an antique table with contemporary chairs—something traditional with something modern. That’s a tremendous advantage to many of our customers who have accumulated distinct furnishings throughout their lives and have traveled the world collecting beautiful and unique art and other objects.
Just as flat design begets a streamlined technology experience, transitional design does the same in the home.
It’s not too formal, not too fussy. It blends the comfort and warmth of traditional design with the clean lines of contemporary design. The result is a streamlined living space that radiates simplicity and harmony. It doesn’t mean this style is boring. Transitional design is timeless, clean, comfortable, and relaxing.
The challenge with mixing contemporary and traditional, of course, is to create a balance. That’s where transitional color palettes play a big role. “The neutral color palette creates a blank canvas—an anchor within the home—while accent colors, in fabric and art, provide whimsy,” Lynes clarifies. Patterns, if used at all, are understated, and typically geometric. By providing a classic background, homeowners can incorporate textures and shapes using furniture, fabric, and decorative items which also introduce color and flair.
Imagine how this style can streamline your life, and you’ll quickly see why it’s exploding in popularity. Transitional style epitomizes the mantra, “less is more.”
Less clutter and frenzy in your physical environment leads to less clutter and frenzy in your life. After the Great Recession, homebuyers began placing a premium on homes that exhibited qualities of timelessness and versatility. Formal living and dining rooms that sat idle for months are giving way to more livable areas for relaxing, entertaining, even working from home. Transitional design fits the bill.
This design philosophy also dovetails perfectly into the lifestyle of “snowbirds” who spend time between homes.
It’s ideal for newcomers to coastal living, allowing them to bring treasures from their past and incorporate them into their new lifestyle. It also serves the needs of the increasing population of multi-generational families, providing a clean, streamlined style that all generations can enjoy.
There’s even the theory that transitional design can make you cooler in the sweltering heat of the South Carolina Lowcountry. Studies show that dark colors, both inside and outside your home, can affect energy consumption. For example, colored interior walls absorb more light, so you’ll need more heat-generating lights to see in a darkly colored room. There’s also the psychological affect that colors create.
Calmer hues of transitional design can physically keep the room cooler.
They trick your mind into thinking that it’s cooler. As a homebuilder, I often works with people moving to the Lowcountry from cooler climates. I find that transitional design can help newcomers acclimate a little better to our simmering summers!
We know that transitional design may not be for everyone. Still, we find more and more homeowners asking for these options. After all, it’s your dream home, so why not get exactly what you want?
By Steve Tilton, co-owner at Coastal Signature Homes in Bluffton, and respected homebuilder.