Transitional 'style' furniture

patty_cakesJuly 8, 2014

Has it replaced traditional? Is it here to stay or a trend? Is it your style? Do you mix it up, how?

My opinion is it lacks any real character or style, since it's mostly straight, no round or curved lines, no special 'legs', no decoration, fancy handles, etc., all the necessary things I love about traditional pieces. I do love decorating in an eclectic style, but only using traditional pieces with a few vintage French thrown in, nothing I would consider transitional. It seems wing back chairs/camel back/chesterfield sofas(and other upholstered pieces)have had staying power, but occasional tables with any character have left the planet. Thoughts??

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feisty68

People are decorating lots of different spaces. I really believe that a home itself often dictates what works, and doesn't. What looks great in a spacious older home doesn't necessarily look great in a smaller, recently built home. I remember bringing vintage-y pieces that I loved into my current apartment. They looked so cute in my former 1920's suite of a house, but in my modern condo they looked fussy, shabby, and out of place.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 4:05PM
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palimpsest

The terminology of "Transitional" to mean an actual specific style is fairly recent. maybe 20 years or so. (In a strict sense there is a "transitional period" for furniture styles between one era or period and the next)

Enough about that. I think transitional pieces are fine when mixed in with other specific styles of furniture. At one point a lot of sofas and upholstered chairs were considered transitional styles that bridged the gap between more specific case pieces.

I think transitional as a specific style, since it is meant to be a bit bland and stay in the background compared to more specific styles ---is a bit boring if that is all that is used.

It's also cheap to produce bland furniture with simple blocky tapered legs and overall lack of detail.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 4:43PM
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schicksal

I'm not a fan either - it feels to close to contemporary for me. Full, real modern on the other hand... :)

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 7:43AM
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nosoccermom

What is transitional style furniture? Is it furniture that mixes elements from modern and traditional pieces? Or a specific style? I googled images but couldn't find "one" style.

If one defines transitional as bland, straight, boring furniture, it's kind of redundant, isn't it?

Would this be "transitional"? It's straight, no round or curved lines, no special 'legs', no decoration, fancy handles, etc. Not really modern, either, I think, but a strange mix of Asian, rustic, ...

If yes, I really, really like it and drool every time I see it at Arhaus.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 8:08AM
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palimpsest

I would call that table rustic-contemporary.

I think this is a pretty typical transitional chair:

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 10:07AM
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palimpsest

And a pretty typical transitional table: These pieces don't have a lot to say, which is why they are great for mixing in with other things, but a little dull by themselves, imo.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 10:13AM
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nosoccermom

But these pieces are round and curved....
What I meant to say is that "transitional" seems even less defined than other styles.

The two pieces you showed look cheap. Is there high-end transitional?

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 10:29AM
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teacats

Of course -- there are very high end (and highest-of-the-high LOL!) transitional .....

..... not sure about exact measures for this category .... but perhaps this line of furniture by interior designer Barbara Barry by Henredon????

Here is a link that might be useful: Barbara Barry furniture by Henredon

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 10:35AM
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teacats

Perhaps some of the furniture from Phoebe and Jim Howard might fit the tag "transitional" ????

Here is a link that might be useful: Phoebe Howard -- Mrs. Howard designs

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 10:38AM
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teacats

Maybe some elements from Darryl Carter?

Here is a link that might be useful: Pinterest -- Darryl Carter

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 10:41AM
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teacats

Perhaps some ideas from room décor by interior designer Miles Redd? I don't think he has a furniture line .... but not sure! :)

Here is a link that might be useful: Pinterest -- Miles Redd

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 10:51AM
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teacats

Here's a whole slew of inspiration photos of "transitional" decorated living rooms from Pinterest .... not quite sure about the exact designation .... but thought I'd post this for discussion and ideas ......

Here is a link that might be useful: Pinterest -- LOTS of photos of transitional living room

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 11:01AM
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nosoccermom

Hm, I think Darryl Carter is a mix of modern and classical lines. If that's transitional, then I like it. I guess I like a more austere look....



    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 11:02AM
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Linelle

I'm just an ordinary person with no background in design. I know what I like when I see it, but not necessarily how to categorize it. Not strictly Traditional or Contemporary, so that leaves Transitional, right? I always thought it was something in between, or a mix of things. Should I be calling it Eclectic? In my living room I have an old carved dark sideboard, a 1950 smooth light round coffee table, and a quarter-sawn oak prairie corner table (reproduction). Plus some innocuous (boring?) stuff from C&B and Macy's. A hopeless mish-ash?

Benjamin Moore currently has a fun online style quiz. What I liked the most is a wide photo that starts with very traditional things on the left and gradually morphs into very contemporary on the right. The middle ground seemed much more interesting and appealing to me.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 11:03AM
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palimpsest

I would say the Barbara Barry is somewhat transitional, but there are a lot of art-deco and neo-classical influences in her pieces. I would say in upholstered pieces especially, there are a lot of high-end transitional pieces.

I think the Phoebe Howard is all pretty influenced by specific historic styles.

I think transitional by definition is going to be less defined, because a dictionary definition of transitional is; " Passage from one form, state, style, or place to another" so the furniture is neither this style, nor that, it's something in between.

You might really be confusing "eclectic" with transitional to some degree:

"1.varied: made up of parts from various sources
2.choosing from various sources: choosing what is best or preferred from a variety of sources or styles"

I think transitional, rather than choosing the "best" may choose the "least specific" from specific styles, so it blends in.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 11:08AM
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teacats

Fascinating discussion!!!

Still casting a wide net about the Pinterest boards -- perhaps designs by Jeffrey Bilhuber????

....Pal .... thanks for definitions .... but still trying to "see" transitional designs ..... not classicial .... but with modern clean lines??? hmmmmmm ....

Here is a link that might be useful: Pinterest -- Jeffrey Bilhuber designs -- transitional?

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 11:19AM
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teacats

too traditional??? and yet ..... maybe?

Pinterest -- Mark D. Sikes designs .......

Here is a link that might be useful: Pinterest -- Mark Sikes designs

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 11:22AM
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nosoccermom

I would see transitional as "in between" in terms of time, i.e. combining two or more styles on a timeline.
So, what's "transitional" today, may be a NEW defined style tomorrow.

So, depending on how you look at it, it's neither here nor there, or it's just evolving into a new style (maybe).

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 11:25AM
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musicgal

When I think of transitional style, I think of this beautiful Foucault's Orb by Restoration Hardware. Not completely modern. Not completely traditional.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 11:40AM
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teacats

Another pin board of ideas .... perhaps Yves St Laurent's décor ? (roll down the pin board for it .....)

Here is a link that might be useful: Pinterest -- another wonderful pin board

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 11:46AM
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lazy_gardens

transitional table: These pieces don't have a lot to say, which is why they are great for mixing in with other things, but a little dull by themselves, imo.

"Transitional" is either a blend of styles - transition from era to era, such as you see when you have a touch of a trendy style on a stolid older style ...

Or it's the gutless wonders that are blandly inoffensive mass market.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 11:50AM
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palimpsest

I will agree with the subcategory of "blandly inoffensive gutless wonders". I think one of the things that marks the current period of lots of interior design is the unwillingness to make a strong statement.

One of my coworkers walked into my living room, looked at my lamps (Designed by Tempestini in the Brutal style, produced by Laurel, and about 4 feet tall)--and said "Those lamps must be something special, because they sure are Ugly."

I prefer a good dose of ugly over excessive blandness.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 12:01PM
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Kees_Lover

I think of "transitional" in the same way that linelle does -- that (currently) it is something between contemporary and traditional. I basically like traditional, but I don't want too many ornate details. I like clean lines, but I don't like minimalist or MCM. For instance, I like this sofa by Smith Brothers of Berne. The lines are "clean" to me, but the style is "classic" (English club sofa, if I'm learning all of my styles correctly?). The nail heads add some traditional detail, but I could live without that. The sofa appears visually substantial but not too "heavy" for a room (even if it were to be in a dark leather).

Here is a link that might be useful: Smith Brothers of Berne sofa

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 12:08PM
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nosoccermom

So, is there:
1. "good" transitional, i.e. a successful combination of style elements, such as traditional/modern, an empire sleigh bed used as a daybed with a modern fabric?
Or is that eclectic? Or can a single piece not be eclectic?
2. not quite clear yet, i.e. beginnings of Biedermeier in reaction to Napoleonic Empire before it was recognized as a new style.
3. "bad" transitional, i.e. it's by definition a "gutless" bland blend.

Now, what about a mishmash that's not bland but still horrific?

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 1:01PM
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peony4

An eclectic style is more purposeful in its intent. Individually, the pieces are very competitive, and with a good eye, they somehow manage to play well together. (Usually. There are some self-proclaimed eclectic styles I would deem more a hot mess.)

A transitional style just wants everyone to get along.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 2:10PM
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palimpsest

In the most technical sense here is a comparison of chairs, one set of which is transitional:

These are 18th century, right out of the design catalog, Chippendale chairs:

These are Chippendale chairs also. These have eclectic influences because they are chinoiserie Chippendale.
But they are pure fully expressed Chippendale style,--he was influenced by Asia, but it's a purely English-American form of chair

These are also Chippendale, also 18th Century, but they are American and Transitional Chippendale, because they are not a full expression of Chippendale style, they are pared down a bit:

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 2:20PM
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peony4

Thanks for these examples, Pal. Because the third set is a derivation of Chippendale, I wouldn't coin them transitional. They clearly mimic the style.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 2:39PM
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Oaktown

Interesting. Would modern Windsor-inspired chairs -- for example the Paul McCobb Planner dining chairs or the Predictor Highback -- be considered modern or transitional?

Here is a link that might be useful: McCobb highback chair

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 2:52PM
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palimpsest

They are actually categorized as "transitional Chippendale" . I don't know the full criteria for categorizing them as such, except that I recognize that they are much less carved, and stylistically headed toward a simpler (or coming from a simpler) style of furniture, less Rococo.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 2:58PM
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patty_cakes

According to Wikipedia......

Don't know if I would agree~*"who* came up with it in the first place? Is it only someone's opinion or an actual fact? As for curves, I don't consider a round table as being curved per se, it's a shape. Curves, IMO, are rounded corners, legs that are anything but straight, cabinets fronts that are bowed, you get the idea.

Pal, such small differences, basically the leg. I don't care for the straight leg in the first set. The 2nd set is too heavy in the leg, even though it's the most 'original ' of the Chippendale's. The 3rd keeps the style, but a more pared down leg, less ornate back. According to the definition, transitional ' lacks ornamentation and decoration', which in my mind leaves Chippendale clearly out of the running if wiki is a 'clear' definition. Would you agree with the definition?

Here is a link that might be useful: definition

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 3:05PM
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peony4

Even with the Wiki definition, transitional is relative to when it's being used. In the example of the Chippendale chairs, had the third set had a rounded seat in more of a Queen Anne fashion, then it would have fit the definition of transitional between Chippendale and QA. This would be transitional in its period.

Today's transitional is relative to our current styles.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 3:19PM
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palimpsest

I agree with the current definition because it think it is actually starting to mean a specific style of it's own rather than "between periods or styles".

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 3:24PM
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patty_cakes

'Today's transitional', peony? Was it part of the past or was it called something else?

Pal, I would agree, it does seem to be it's own styles. Who was the 'originator'? Manufacturer? I first saw it at Target when they started carrying furniture, then Pottery Barn. Furniture manufacturers seemed to come a bit later.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 3:38PM
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palimpsest

I think the Paul Mccobb chair is pure modernism even though it's based upon a historic chair. It's not really transitional because it doesn't bridge two styles very much and it's not eclectic because it is based upon one thing.

This Carlo Bugatti chair is Eclectic because it is a combination of Moorish, Asian, Art Nouveau and his own imagination.

This post was edited by palimpsest on Wed, Jul 9, 14 at 15:46

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 3:44PM
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peony4

Patty, the term "transitional" is not exclusive to current furniture design. There are a number of sources that examine furniture from historical periods and use the term "transitional" to note more than one influence or the confluence of styles. Earlier designers often described their work as "transitional," as well (such as Edward Wormley, who started locally here in Chicago in the early/mid 20th century and called his style transitional).

The term "transitional" is relative to the period in which it is used, and it's not a new label. The concept of transitional design has been around for a while.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 4:25PM
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palimpsest

The other complicating factor is that period styles are not necessarily named during the period in which they were produced, but afterward. Almost any new style is considered the "contemporary" or "modern" style of its day, with some notable exceptions.

The current "problem" in furniture design is that there is not really a new material or technology that is suited to making furniture and is also something that people will accept style wise--so a lot of furniture design is reiterating the past in different variations.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 4:48PM
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nosoccermom

Right, and so where does transitional end and the new style start? It's only in retrospect, and even then it's frequently a continuum.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 4:54PM
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rgps

I've always found that 'Istanbul whorehouse meets little house on the prairie' best describes my aesthetic.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 5:38PM
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gr8daygw

What I love about Chippendale chairs is that you can see the shape of a parrot on either side of the center splat. So interesting!

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 6:33PM
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