I’m so often asked how to furnish a room in a transitional style that I thought I’d sit down and post some basic guidelines on each layer that we all encounter in decorating. Today’s layer will be the shapes to look for on upholstered furnishings: sofas and chairs. 

Transitional style, to me, means not quite traditional and not quite contemporary. It’s comfortable, stylish, inviting and easy to maintain. It can handle kids, pets and parties, but still look like adults live in the space.

Shapes to look for in your furnishings:

Quiet arms.  No big rolls, no arms big enough to sit on (perching might be okay).  Look for understatement, like these:

Even the armless sofa is worth a lookie. Great in a tight space:

A little trim on the arm is a nice touch:

Arms with a soft sheen–oh baby. And this leather chair is a swivel, so you can face other people or the TV:

A very small rolled arm is okay, but not easy to find.

And then there’s the legs. A leg that shows is much more modern than a skirted bottom and it takes up less visual space. Very pretty.

Nail head trim is very popular right now. Just don’t go overboard. You might want to pass on that trim I’ve seen around that is a double row of super shiny chrome finish on the nail heads. Destined to be a regret. Silver is shiny enough without having to add any extra bling.

This piece (below) would also work in a transitional design. It’s more antiquey than modern, but the upholstery on the arm was done in a very clean way and the arms and legs are open AND it’s good to mix it up a bit. This piece would get a lot of attention in a transitional space.

Did you notice the colors and upholstery fabric used on many of my examples?  That gives you a clue about what we’ll talk about next time. 

I took all these photos at Expressions Furniture in Raleigh.