Contemporary style in a Traditional home

I was looking through my search statistics and I noticed that most people are searching for traditional design.  It occurred to me that most people have homes that are traditional in some way- either actual old houses or newer homes with detailing that is traditional, like big trim, crown molding, paneled doors , big fireplaces etc.

What also seems to be a trend among my clients is the desire to decorate these traditional homes in a contemporary style. They become so conflicted and flustered and confused about these desires.. I think they feel like they are betraying their traditional house by decorating in a contemporary way. It’s like some sordid affair, with secret desires.

They say to me ” Can I do this? Is it OK? Does this make any sense to you? Am I crazy?”I try to soothe them by helping them let go of the ‘rules’. It seems that people are so bound by the rule that there is only one right answer to their homes decor. They really want to pass the test and get it all correct. They study the textbooks ( catalog’s from Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware etc)

I urge them to let their style preferences (even the secret ones)out and then see how the result is always right and a real reflection of who they are and how live. When you can be brave enough to jump in a trust your instincts, you can bet that the end result will fit perfectly with your house.  It truly doesn’t matter what year your house was built.

Here are some tips for decorating & painting your home in a contemporary style if you live in a traditional home:

  • Paint all trim/built-ins to match the walls it is on, just change the sheen ( satin for trim and eggshell for walls) -This helps take away the traditional feature of bright white trim on a colored wall and lets you see the whole space. This also quiets  visual input and makes the space feel more zen and open.
  • Pick one major traditional feature in the house like, the fireplace, the front door, the chandelier, the coffered ceiling, all the floors- and paint it an amazing color like, Black, Dark Blue/Green, Red or Neon Pink! Let your light shine!
  • Put all the clutter away.
  • Take down the upper cabinets in your kitchen and put up wood open shelves. Get modern colored dishware that all matches and place it artfully on the shelves.
  • Paint all the walls and ceilings and trim a neutral soft white ( with a touch of yellow in it, trust me) and get brightly colored furnishings. Rich red patterned rugs, aqua sofas.
  • Ironic wall hangings like Paper Mache deer heads for over the fireplace etc.
  • Paint all of the interior doors black.
  • Buy items like lamps and sofas that are a traditional shape but modern in color/texture- like large yellow lacquer bulb lamps- ornate chandeliers that are all one color like pink or aqua etc.
  • Buy thick drapery with a quirky print.
  • Be bold.

I hope this helps you take the leap!Let me know if you have any tips you would add to this list.



Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s