How to mix modern and traditional decorating styles

by admin on March 5, 2013

Decorating a home is a truly individual pursuit, which is why no two homes look the same. Some people hire interior decorators to turn their space into a showpiece while others do the best they can on their own to create a cohesive style on a budget (and with limited or no design training). Many of us simply have a mish-mash of furniture and decor that follows no particular style; rather we have an eclectic array of home goods that say nothing so much as that they were all purchased piecemeal. But if you happen to be looking for a way to turn your house into a home that features not only your personality, but also a stylish and unified design, and you’d like to incorporate both the modern elements that will suit your architecture and the traditional touches you love (or vice versa), then you should know that there are a few ways you can seamlessly blend the two aesthetics without having your interior look as though dueling decorators fought over every room.

The first thing you should do is decide which style you want to be dominant, and the best option is usually to go with the style of your home. So if you live in an old Victorian, a ranch-style house, or a brownstone featuring wood floors, banisters, and doorframes, for example, then perhaps traditional elements should be your go-to decorating style. But if your home was built within the last few decades, and it exudes a much more modern aesthetic, then you should opt for primarily contemporary furnishings and décor. Once you’ve got the basic necessities covered you can start to throw in some touches of the other style.

But how do you know which elements will go together? For example, you might have a fondness for lace doilies, like the hand-tatted kind your grannie placed on every stick of furniture in her home, but that doesn’t mean her heirloom lace is going to look right on your futuristic, glass-and-metal coffee table or the back of your sleek, modern couch. And if you expect to get away with sneaking an ultra-modern, conceptual art chandelier in with your oak dining table and China hutch, you shouldn’t be surprised when it sticks out like a sore thumb. Mixing these two styles can be a bit tricky, but you can do it if you take the time to consider how you might use older pieces in a modern way, or alternately, how you can find hip, new pieces that have a cast of the old-world about them.

Take, for example, photo frames. Suppose you love the look of gilded and detailed wooden frames, especially with the scuffed patina of age. How do you fit them into an otherwise modern home? All you need to do is create a modern grid for your photo wall (samples and templates available online) rather than hanging your family portraits ascending the staircase like your parents or grandparents generation would have done. If you want some modern lamps, try pairing the bases with antique beaded or glass shades. And for a modern twist on a wooden coffee table, go for a country wagon with industrial hardware. You can get creative with your pairings so long as you fit the pieces together in a way that makes sense and seems cohesive. There are plenty of wise sayings pertaining to the right and wrong of design, but when you’re mixing modern and traditional elements in your own home, don’t be afraid to experiment a little; you’ll know when it feels right.


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