Design Education :: Design Styles

KMID_Design Education_ Boston Interior Design

I’m a self taught designer. I didn’t go to school for interior design and I didn’t work under another designer to learn the ropes. I jumped in the deep end with no swimmies and figured it out from the start. I’ve been blessed time and time again to work with amazing professionals that have taught me everything I know and I’ve had clients who happen to like my personal taste and what I am able to put together for them. My business has grown and my team has grown and 2015 will be all about enjoying that.

For starters I’m going back to my roots. I take pride in educating my clients about the design process as we go through each stage. I tell them everything I’ve learned and give them my best recommendations as to how to make the most of their spaces {and their budgets}. Understanding the terminology can be a game changer when you’re talking to design professionals. I realized that many people that aren’t surrounded by these things on a daily basis may not know a lot of the lingo. So that is  what this new blog series will be all about….Design Definitions… {ok, ok. Kinda dorky but I love this stuff!}

I draw inspiration from countless places. I never know when inspiration might hit and as I evolve my design sense evolves as well. As I learn more about the history of design I’m more and more inspired by timeless lines and styles. The good news is that there is so much to draw from that the combinations are endless. …and combining styles in new and unique ways is one of my FAVORITE things to do!!

So here is a little overview of the styles that have inspired my personal interior design aesthetic so far…

Victorian {1837-1901}

As I’m sure you can imagine, the stylings of this era were all very ornate. Carvings, curves and embellishments seemed to be the driving forces in Victorian design in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The women were fancy and so were their homes. Some women often displayed pieces depicting  Middle Eastern and Asian influences of design to speak to their travels. Described as a romantic and eclectic revival of historic styles, “Victorian” stems from the reign of Queen Victoria.

How to spot this style:

A Victorian style home is one that has extra carvings and details on the exterior. The roof lines may have something more interesting going on as well. There is shape and ornate character to this kind of home. Victorian furniture can be recognized in a similar way. These tend to be the “grandma chairs” that need a facelift. We did that here with this sofa I found in Brimfield. By upholstering this ornate piece in a solid fabric and placing it next to other modern elements we’ve created an eclectic living room for a young family. 21st century Victorian if you will…

Kate Maloney Interior Design Portfolio - Modern Farmhouse

A Victorian style piece is a great way to add character to any room. You can purchase mirrors from this era for a mere $49,500 on 1stdibs


Or you can “get the look” like I did with this Anthropologie Mirror…now in Elle’s bathroom

KMID_Design Education_ Anthropologie Mirror_ Boston Interior Design

Arts and Crafts {1880-1910}

The Arts and Crafts movement started on the heels of the Victorian style. This movement came at a time when many believed in the integrity of good craftsmanship and the artists that produce that work. Led by socialist, writer and artist William Morris, the Arts and Crafts {or Mission Style} depicted a cleaner line. Simpler and cleaner shapes that focused on the hand made quality of the work and the higher quality of materials and design.

How to spot this style:

The simplicity of the Arts and Crafts style is what sets it apart in my opinion. Now we’re seeing simple cabinet door styles becoming more popular because of their clean lines. The beauty of the Arts and Crafts style {in my opinion} is the ability to pair the clean woodwork with the amazing textiles and patterns that emerged during this time. Wallpaper was prominent in this era and has started to make a comeback in recent years.

I started my career as an administrative assistant with Charles R. Myer & Partners. Charlie and his team were {and continue to be} my “teachers”. Charlie’s affection for the Arts and Crafts style is contagious and could be why I have such a soft spot in my heart for this style. There is just something about it that makes it feel like home to me.

Here is a desk we designed {with Walker Creek Furniture in Essex, MA} that fits perfectly in our client’s kitchen. She likes to call this “command central” which I love. The fabric on the chair is a William Morris print which adds a little character to the clean lines of the desk and file cabinet.

KMID_Wakefield Family Home_Boston Interior Design

Art Nouveau {1890s}

Ok, this one is where things start to get interesting to me. Hailing from in Belgium and France, this movement pulled influence from cultures outside it’s origin, like the Japanese attention to nature. Influenced by geometric shapes and free forming lines imitating organic elements like plants, trees, flowers, etc. It is said that according to the philosophy of this style “Art should be a way of life”…well doesn’t that sound grand!

How to spot this design style:

Art Nouveau and Arts & Crafts seem to have many similarities to me but somehow the styling of this movement has a slightly more feminine hand to it. It’s as if a shift was happening in design here.

This Iconic Tiffany Lamp is a perfect example of this style…

KMID_Design Education_ Boston Interior Design

This is an image of a Brookline Townhouse we completed. You see so many styles in this image and yet the stained glass still takes center stage with it’s nod to such classic time…


I’ve been drawn to this style lately. It’s so inspiring to think of life during this time. I recently purchased an art piece like this one that fits at the top of my stairs at Prescott like she belongs there.  Prescott_KMID_Boston Interior Design

Art Deco {1920s}

This design style originated in France after World War 1 and in the period of the Roaring Twenties. This was during a period strong in industrial growth and one of the most notable structures of this time is The Chrysler Building.

The_Chrysler_Building_ KMID_Boston Interior Design

How to spot this design style:

Art Deco is similar to Art Nouveau in that it features geometric shapes but Art Deco seems to take it one step farther. The repetition of angles and patterning feel distinctly Art Deco.

Florence Broadhurst is one of my favorite designers from this era. It’s amazing how her designs have stood the test of time. She was an artist through and through and seemed to just ooze with class & creativity. Kate Spade did a campaign which featured Florence Broadhurst’s patters a few years back {I may have bought bags for my entire office I was so excited}! Two strong women collaborating 30+ years after Florence left us. I’m absolutely so inspired by the relevance of it all!

florence broadhurst_kate spade

Image credit

Mid Century Modern {1930-1960}

It’s almost as if the world started getting a little flowery and swirly and designers wanted to take it back to smart, angular shapes to quiet the fluff. The Mid Century Modern style takes influence from both the Arts & Crafts movement as well as Art Deco. I love to see this evolution as you watch the 20th century progress. So many people expressing themselves creatively and leaving their marks behind. Inspiring stuff!

KMID_ Boston Interior Design PRK Chair on First Dibs

Mid Century Modern future is found in a lot of the work I do because it’s a wonderful “connector” style. It offers unique lines to the space {which I love} while linking the traditional architecture elements we see in New England homes with the more modern patterns and colors that so many clients are seeking. It helps me give authenticity to the room like the piece somehow belongs there and all the other elements are just floating around it.

I did have a client ask me to do a “Man Cave” for him. It was a little tricky to keep the cool factor and not let the room go down a very bad road. Mid Century Modern styling was the perfect direction and I couldn’t be happier with the way this room came together. Probably two of the coolest chairs I’ve ever placed…

How to spot this design style:

Curved back wing chairs…enough said… KMID_ColorfulHome-BostonInteriorDesign

Eclectic {PRESENT}

Potential clients always ask me how I would describe my own personal design style. “Eclectic” is an easy answer but I haven’t been able to find a better word to describe it. {Actually my friend Heidi calls it “Bohemian Preppy” which I also love.} Eclecticism in design is the art of combinding a variety of different styles, no one combination specifically.  This style reads the most organic to me as I appreciate different forms of art from multiple periods, as you can see from my rant above.  As a designer I believe good design is authentic and should be a collection of items gathered overtime and mixed with new modern pieces you come to love.  This is why Mike’s grandmother’s painting and my grandmother’s lamp work so perfectly in my dining room at Prescott with our brand new linen drum shade and leather strap chandelier.  It makes sense because it’s Eclectic design – and because we love it.

Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 1.19.11 PM

How to spot this design style: 

You can pretty much check out all the work on my website. Ha!

This is one in particular that I love…check out this 1900’s Colonial home with Traditional maple hardwood floors, modern Visual Comfort light fixture and vintage hardware.

KMID_EclecticHome_Boston Interior Design

KMID_EclecticHome_Boston Interior Design Whew!! I’m impressed you stayed with me there. This started out as a post idea and developed into a research project. Kelley and I have been working on this off and on for a month or so. We write it…we tweak it…we find a new image to feature. It could go on and on and on. I hope you enjoyed it as much as we enjoyed putting it together. I promise all my “definition” posts won’t be quite so lengthy!

Design is Everywhere {clearly}! Be inspired!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *