Say the word “traditional” and I think of my mom’s decorating style, such as it was. The images in my head are old fashioned, boring shapes, rust/gold/orangey colors with 3-piece matched sets for side tables. However, as a designer I’ve had to banish all those erroneous mental pictures and embrace traditional decor. While it’s still not my favorite style, I can find redeeming qualities in a well done traditional room brimming with timeless touches.
Some of the defining features of a traditional decor are:
- Beautiful leather, showing it’s age with scuffs and scratches
- Cut crystal vases, glasses, chandeliers
- Polished woods, sometimes with an aged patina
- Classic camelback sofa, wing back chairs
- Gilded frames
- Nubby silks, luxurious wool, velour or even a cotton chintz
- Damasks, tone-on-tone stripes, plaids, rich deep colors
Traditional details abound in this room: pleated skirts on the seating, chair profile, pleated drapes, gilded and elaborate frame (over the fireplace), crystal chandelier and subdued patterned rug under foot.
Another great example of a more formal traditional look – the fireplace surround, classic; the symmetry of mirrors and tables flanking the fireplace; cabriole legs on the coffee table; pleated drapery panels; even the color palette, all speak to traditional style.
A wing back chair whether in the usual leather or this more casual slipcovered version, is a hallmark of traditional design.
This comfortable room mixes traditional elements in a casual way. The large scale damask on the sofa is very traditional but the higher back is a nod to a more modern look. You can see the edges of a wing back chair on the right. The large, chunky armoire, traditional. The visually lightweight coffee table, a little more transitional. The addition of the small rocking chair plays with scale but is probably a useful piece of furniture for this family.
What are the traditional elements in this photo? Symmetry of 2 matching chairs flanking the fireplace, the style of the fireplace surround, the skirted & trimmed hem of the chairs, the use of finials combined with the carved frames on the mantel.
This photo showcases a more casual traditional aesthetic. The wood finishes and accessories are definitely on the casual side. However, traditional elements are still present in the tufting on the piece in the right corner, the floral print on the armchair, the window treatments. Could this room cross over to the country side? Compare the look to some of the country rooms in the earlier article and see what you think.
Dining rooms are often a more formal space in a home and you’ll notice a few formal touches in this traditional room. The velvet chair upholstery, the oval cherry wood table, the period console table topped by a gilded mirror, and, of course, the crystal chandelier hanging from that beautiful ceiling. To me all it needs is a fabulous area rug. The dining room below has a similar vibe with all that gorgeous warm wood. The addition of the drapes with a traditional pleated valance completes the room perfectly.
As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, the tone of your home is established in the entryway. This one clearly speaks “traditional” with the use of wood on the stair treads and bannister, the table styled with flowers and the crystal chandelier. A little formal perhaps, but definitely traditional.
This family room boasts a large leather ottoman/coffee table which is a current interpretation of a traditional piece. I like the warm mocha color, another nod to more current trends. However, the seating profiles are strictly traditional and the grid of framed bird prints is a distinctly traditional art treatment. The rug and drapery patterns are the finishing touches on this space.
I don’t think you could find a more traditional bedroom. From the carved wood bed and chest to the crystal chandelier, from the color palette to the window treatments, everything says elegant and traditional.
While this kitchen works as an example of a traditional kitchen with its white paneled cabinet doors, lantern-like lighting, and cane back chairs, I think some of those features also would work well in a country kitchen. What style do you see when you look at this kitchen?
A Style Quiz
I’m thinking that at the end of this style series I’ll offer a short quiz to see if you’ve been paying attention. Hmmmm. For today though, just a wrap up on traditional decor. It’s a warm style, full of warm colors and textures and comforting furniture shapes. As I’ve shown, it can be quite formal with polished woods, silks and subdued patterns or bolder and casual with slipcovers, ruffles and drapey window treatments. Are you like me and consider traditional decor a throwback to my mom’s style or do you embrace it and incorporate it in your home? Give me some feedback on how you perceive traditional home decor. What items did I overlook in the definition at the top of the post?