8 signs Fresh New Traditional is the style for you?

As you would have probably surmised, traditional design is inspired by, well, tradition. It’s a timeless style taking cues from the 18th and 19th centuries, incorporating classic art, antiques, and pieces with history. Though you’ll most often see traditional design influenced by European decor, it can actually incorporate elements from England, France, or even the far east. “Styles and pieces reflect historical design elements using natural materials and colors,” says interior designer Erin Gates. From House Beautiful, Oct 2018.

People who cringe at the sound of traditional design usually describe it as stuffy and dated. Well, if by dated, you mean from the past or inspired by the past then you would be right, But we part company there. Stuffy does not have to be in the cards even if you have beloved family pieces or a plethora of “brown furniture”. Traditional rooms can be styled in a way that is fresh and crisp. Truth told, mixing old with new is the best way to get a really dynamic mix. We LOVE working with heritage pieces and breathing new life into a room.

Here are 8 ways to know it this look is for you:

1. You love symmetry

Asymmetry makes you twitchy. If the look of perfect classic symmetry makes your heart sing, read on.

2. You’re favourite colour is pattern.

Most traditionalists don’t use solid coloured textiles nearly as much as they are drawn toward patterns. More is more when it comes to creating this look. Traditional rooms are built on pattern, layered, beautifully co-ordinated pattern. If this describes you, this style is for you.

3. You treasure family heirlooms

You wouldn’t dream of giving up grandmother’s dining set or your mother’s heritage furniture. You may even have a secret collection of family linens. Bonus points for tatting or lace!

4. You find comfort in things that are familiar.

The passing of time means something has endured for a reason. Traditionalists believe in tradition and are in no hurry to break with the past. If it has worked for hundreds of years, why reinvent it now?

5. You are allergic to chrome

If modern furniture seems cold and lacking in personality to you, this is really hitting home. See above.

6. You believe dressing for dinner makes an occasion special

A formal dining room has an important place in traditional decor. Creating a sense of importance for an event by bringing out the fine china, and crystal is part of the setting for a special birthday and it is only fitting to dress up for the occasion.

7. Grace Kelly is your vision of elegance

Traditional design done well is elegant. Stuffy – no, elegant – yes. That doesn’t mean it has to be overly formal. Elegance at its best, done well, is approachable and comfortable. Picture the easy of Grace Kelly in her delivery in Rear Window or any of her classics, really, There is an unassuming easy about her beauty. Good traditional design is comfortable and beautiful. It is rich, warm, and inviting.

8. Details set your heart aflutter!

You just don’t get minimalism. Why make something plain when you could make it pretty with curves and details is your thinking. We get it!

Here’s a great example where a traditional kitchen is given an update with fresh new pattern and lots of white. Brown cabinets or honey oak doesn’t have to look dated. Give your kitchen a fresh update by introducing some fresh elements like Rachel Canon did here in this fresh, warm kitchen. Rachael Cannon is masterful at creating beautiful freshnew traditional spaces. Please check out her work, her instagram, and give her some love.

pretty kitchen with wood cabinets and white backsplash and beige and white counter chairs
RCL Interiors

Here are some tips to make your traditional rooms look fresh and current:

One way to update your traditional decor is to add black, or white, or both. Traditionally dyes and for fabrics often produced muted colours and by using a new palette you can freshen it up quite quickly. Navy and grey are good choices too, not often used in interiors until recently.

Another way is by mixing prints and varying the scales. A fresh mix of pattern will enliven a tired room.

Use solids. Although it is counterintuitive, don’t underestimate the power of crisp linen, or velvet to calm down all the pattern in a traditional room. Using a solid (or semi-solid) is unexpected and can breathe new life into your look.

Yet another way is to stick to a limited colour palette. White, like I mentioned above, when paired with blue is a beautiful way to freshen up a room filled with “brown furniture” (yep, that’s a thing). The blues we have available today are clearer and more vibrant giving the look a lift.

Group small accessories, and use fewer simple statement pieces to updating and freshening up your traditional style.

True traditional style is built around harmony and order, and well, tradition. No surprise there. Traditionalists tend to prefer symmetry. Some will go against the grain here but if I have a traditional mantle to design, or a set of built-ins, symmetry is going to be most pleasing to traditionalists. (haters are going to hate so please remember, I am only generalizing here.)

If you love this design style, you’re going to love Sister Parish’s work. She was one of the most iconic designers in American history who exemplified traditional decorating, and her style is still clearly relevant today. Also known (as a traditionalist would) by her married name, Mrs. Henry Parish is considered by many to be the last of America’s grande dame decorators. The partnership between Sister Parish and Albert Hadley influenced American decor for more than three decades, and the office was a training ground for dozens of designers now acclaimed in their own right. She was a favourite of the ever-timeless Jackie O and spent much of her time decorating the White House during the JFK era.

Character comes through details in this style. But having said that, to crisp it up. less is more. Use fewer details and let those details stand in contrast with some clean modern lines and hear them sing together.

A great way to simplify the details and update your room is to break up the sets. New dining chairs or slipcovers will play well against a Duncan Phyfe or any traditional table. A set of night tables will have more importance when separated by a crisp linen headboard. Too much brown wood is too much! Move some of it to another room. The blend of detailed pieces and clean lines – traditional and modern that really bring this look to life.

Wallpaper and pattern play a leading role in traditional design. Wrap your powder room if you are hesitant or try a feature wall in the bedroom. You won’t go back to plain walls.

Drapery is also important in traditional rooms. Layered and luxurious, it adds the softness and warmth and yet another opportunity for pattern. Rich textiles are celebrated, Velvet, silk, damask, madras, paisley,, wool and mohair. If you are feeling it, add some trim to show a custom touch.

Millwork is another hallmark of traditional design. Panel molding, custom built-ins, (library lights and art lights), all create the context for a traditional envelope.

Here’s an example that is the epitome of elegant fresh updated traditional decor. Pattern, symmetry, traditional furniture are interpreted here in a fresh current way.

pretty dining room with apple green upholstered velvet chairs and traditional pedestal table
RCL Interiors
living room vignette with white sofa and violet chair
the Blueprint Store
living room vignette with blue sofa, multicolour accent fabric on pillow and drapes depicting an asian scene
the Blueprint Store
bedroom with chest of srawers night table, white beding and blush pink walls
the Blueprint Store
white tub against pink walls and pretty pink and white drapes
the Blueprint Store

We still think the artistry lies n the mix. Freshnew Traditional means an updated aesthetic with a nod to the past and an eye for the present. I just love this kitchen! Does it fit neatly in any design box? No. The best interiors don’t, but with shaker panelled cabinetry, and traditional crown molding it could ease seamlessly into a traditional home and bring note of currency to the decor.

blue and white kitchen with pretty backsplash and blue and black check chairs
RCL Interiors

The words of our beloved Dorothy was, no doubt harkening a vision of a traditional room when she said “there’s no place like home”.

If you’re still not sure whether this is your style, take our quiz!

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