Despite Americans’ recent love affair with modern, there are plenty of us who prefer to surround ourselves with classic furnishings and accents that have stood the test of time. Still, we don’t want homes that look like museums of a bygone era or feel like they’re stuck in a time warp. The key to keeping your traditional home interesting is to update it regularly with pieces that give classic styling an exciting new lease on life. Here are five tricks for making traditional decor fresh.
1. Mix up matching furniture groupings.
Symmetry is a hallmark of a traditional look. But that doesn’t mean you have to fill your house with furniture groupings consisting of pieces from sets. Interject a new piece or two that looks a little different from the others in the room. For example, if all your wood is stained, how about adding a piece that is painted? If your sofa and chairs are covered in similar fabrics, reupholster the sofa or the chairs in a contrasting textile. Want to take it a step further? Try this popular style technique: Upholster the front and back of a chair in different but harmonious fabrics. It’s an edgy look that makes me smile.
2. Interject bolder art.
Adding a piece or two of new art will help you make great strides toward freshening a traditional look. Stop and take a hard look at your existing artwork. Is the subject matter or style dated? Are the mats faded and the frame nicked and scuffed? Most important, do you still love it? Often, we just grow tired of looking at the same pictures year after year, but don’t ever think to change them out for something new.
The hot new look in traditional artwork is bigger and bolder. In my own bedroom, I’ve added a collage of female nudes. The room is traditional, but the mix of classic and contemporary thematic artwork is intriguing. I like how the interjection of the modern art gives the space a fresher feel.
Another trick for making artwork displays more modern is to hang the pieces close together.
3. Update your color palette.
While some of the hues in a traditional color palette will never go out of style, like black and white, others definitely have a limited lifespan. If your home is saturated with the colors that were big 20 or 30 years ago, it will instantly look dated, even if you have fresh furnishings and accents in the spaces. The only way to combat getting stuck in the past is to constantly tweak your color palette.
4. Add a few transitional accents.
One of the easiest and least expensive ways to keep a traditional look new is to weave in a few transitional accents. We mix the most traditional of accents, like looking glasses and crystal water vases and silver candlesticks, with contemporary looks, like a bright orange ceramic vase.
White pottery pieces, with their sleek lines and contemporary vibe, still look classic enough to use in traditional rooms. They are different enough from the norm that they will catch viewers by surprise, yet not so different that they feel out of place surrounded by antiques.
5. Update lamps and shades.
Dated lamps can bring down the style IQ of a room in a flash. A decade ago, the market was glutted with lots of cheap lamps that have not stood the test of time. It’s time to let these unremarkable light pieces go and replace them with lamps that will make a huge style statement in your room.