Two rules that interior designers consistently remind us about when decorating are to keep in mind your home’s original architecture and to try to stay true to your home’s roots. This doesn’t mean going full-blown Victorian with your furniture in a historic home but rather to respect the original bones of the space, look for materials that were used during the era your home was created, and give a few nods to the time period in your decor.
That said, you also don’t want your home to feel as though it belongs in another era, so keeping that balance between traditional and modern home decor is an art that could always use some fine-tuning.
Whether you’ve just moved into an Edwardian apartment or you’re trying to give your Colonial house a little more edge, there are countless ways to modernize a traditional home. Of course, you could go ahead and browse contemporary shops to see what catches your eye, but if you need a little more direction, we have a few tips. Ready to give your home a modern flair? Just try a few of these easy updates.
Hang contemporary art: There are few things we love more than contemporary art juxtaposed with the thoughtful architectural detail of a traditional home. Seek out artwork with colors that complement your existing furnishings, and you’ve got a foolproof combination.
Stack your books: Historically, books have always been arranged vertically in libraries; stacking them horizontally can easily give any room an updated look. To get super modern, create multiple stacks of books with several inches of space in between them. For a more transitional aesthetic, try a mix of vertically and horizontally arranged books.
Brighten up: One of the simplest ways to freshen up any home is to integrate bright colors. A rich canary yellow will feel decidedly modern, while a bright yet soft mint green can create a youthful and traditional look. A Klein blue will instantly give your space a bold, modern edge.
In the clear: Be it a Lucite coffee table, a glass bar cart or an acrylic chandelier, a bit of transparency lightens up the heaviness of dark woods and upholstered furniture that you often see in traditional homes. Luckily, you don’t have to worry about matching, as clear items blend right in. Add one piece for an instant contemporary touch.
Stick with solid colors: Fussy and intricate patterns can quickly take on a granny vibe, so if you want to modernize your space, sticking with solids is a safe way to do so. Use texture, mixed metals and finishes, and shapely furniture to add interest and keep the pattern to a minimum.
Go global: European, American and Chinese furniture are common in traditional homes, so to infuse a little variety into the mix, seek out decor from Africa, South America, Southeast Asia or wherever life takes you. Vintage tiles or antique urns are a simple way to add a worldly flair.
Layer similar elements: Displaying a series of art prints from the same collection is a staple in traditional decor, but when it’s a series of identical graphic prints, it feels decidedly bold. Is there another classic pattern or art movement you love? Lay it on thick for a twist on tradition.
Create an unexpected moment: We expect to see a console table and a mirror at the foot of a staircase, but what about a pair of chairs? Or how about a low bench displaying leaning artwork and a single greenery branch? Play around with unusual arrangements and surprising juxtapositions.
Try a unique layout: Floating a daybed in the middle of a petite room isn’t something one would naturally think of — unless you’re an interior designer — but it works, and it’s remarkably cozy. When it comes to your furniture layout, listen to your instinct, and then disregard it. You may love what unfolds.