Not so very long ago, Traditional style conjured up visions of grandmother's house, with pristine carpets and impossibly uncomfortable furniture. I am happy to say that is no longer the case. Traditional style now is more pared down and clean lined than ever before.
Traditional style spans a broad range of cultures and time periods, and can include everything from opulent and ornate to spare and simple. The ties that bind them to Traditional style are the familiarity of silhouette and use of architectural details. Often homes with traditional style are older and have an abundance of architectural details such as elaborate or chunky moldings, arches, columns, intricate tile or wood floor patterns, beams, built in cabinetry, etc. The shapes are familiar because the have a historical influence. Much of the furnishings and textiles are called "traditional" because the shapes and patterns have been used for a long time.
Updated Traditional style is not fussy or stale, instead it is welcoming and more casual. Think of it as the little black dress of design; always appropriate, looks stunning, feels fabulous, and goes with everything. Different eras can be mixed with ease, just be sure to choose one element such as a wood tone or amount of embellishments to unify.
Here are a few ideas to help create Traditional style:
-Colors- Develop a consistent theme based on color. Neutral colors are often used on walls and large upholstery pieces. Pops of color can come in artwork and accessories. Color palettes are often muted to show off other elements in the room like a great piece of art or a stunning rug. An all white palette is popular because it can lend both opulence and minimalism depending on the application. Balance is a key consideration when choosing. Bright bold colors are welcome as long as they offset by neutral tones.
-Furnishings- Furnishings in Traditional style have a familiar shape- almost iconic and recognizable to most people. The wing back chair is one such example and though it is often updated and reinterpreted, it is mostly at home in traditional décor. Upholstery pieces are often neutral and comfortable, less fussy than in years past. Antiques, reproductions, and contemporary pieces can be mixed for a relaxed elegance. Rich wood tones and painted pieces are common. Even a bit of funky color may have a home on an accent table, perking up the room.
-Textiles- Luxurious fabrics are welcome in Traditional style including but not limited to silk, cashmere, velvet, and mohair. Other more humble fabrics such as linen and cotton are found as well. In real life not many of us can get away with a sofa upholstered in silk or other high maintenance fabrics, but that does not mean they can not be used in low traffic areas like curtains or a pillow. Start with a pivotal fabric then mix other patterns from the same color family. Layering of pattern and texture will give interest to the space. Florals, damasks, paisleys, and even geometrics are popular patterns. Rugs are very popular because usually a traditional home would have hard floors- either wood or tile. Colorful Persian rugs are a great pick as well as tone on tone designs.
-Artwork- Artwork introduces color, texture, mood, and personality. It is often helpful to choose a color palette and room arrangements from a great piece of art. If it is not in your budget to purchase a large statement piece of art, you can create impact in other ways. Group similar images in matched frames to add a graphic punch.
-Putting It all together- The key to a great space is how the pieces are put together. To give the eye a resting place, be sure to have a focal point. It grounds the room and everything can be placed in relation to it. Focal points can be a fireplace, artwork, or even a piece of furniture such as a bed or sofa. Use symmetry to keep the space feeling balanced. For instance, you might have two chairs on either side of a fireplace. The do not need to be exactly the same, but they should be of similar proportions.
Design should be fun, and be about what you like. So do not be afraid, the new Traditional style is beautiful and comfortable. Go for it!