It’s tradition. Or at least, it’s traditional home decor.
Whether you’re a fan of antique furniture, feel your home is lacking poise or just want to create your own historic-themed living room, traditional interior design has kept pace with changing times. Read on to learn more about this timeless decor style.
What Is Traditional?
Traditional decor takes its cues from multiple countries and eras: 17th and 18th century Europe, the U.S. colonial era, the Baroque time period, Victorian England and more. For hundreds of years, this was how every politician, nobleman and captain of industry decorated their primary residence. The look harkens back to an old world, European nobility concept like the famous Palace of Versailles in France.
For inspiration, think of television shows and Hollywood blockbusters set in a historical period before the First World War, such as Downton Abbey. In more recent times, look to the illustrious U.S. Oval Office – both real and dramatized – for design inspiration.
What Does This Style Look Like?
These four words should come to mind immediately when looking for pieces to suit traditional home design. Couches with rolled arms, curio cabinets with intricately carved details or paisley patterned area rugs – these are just some of the looks a traditional home decorator should consider. Furniture and accents should match and complement each other, and any home accessory with a fanciful flourish is a must-have.
That said, paint colours can help act as a balance to your richly furnished room. Use off-white or very light colours on the walls, ceilings and trim. If you’re feeling ambitious, adding wallpaper in these tones with a time-appropriate design is also an option. You shouldn’t use anything too bright or stark to colour your space. Otherwise, your home could look disjointed and mismatched.
Key Traits of Traditional Home Decor
Into the Woods
Warm, rich woods are absolutely essential for your traditional home. This isn’t the place for rustic, unfinished planks though – you should look for fully finished, medium-to-dark wood tones. The wood pieces may even feature a decorative grain pattern or matching veneers.
Favourite Example: Finished in a warm, cherry brown hue, this Westchester bed includes subtle wood grain detail on both the head- and footboard.
You can never have too much of the right fabric in your traditional home. Damask, florals and geometric patterns all come from a type of fabric weaving called jacquard, and are perfect pieces to step up your traditional decor. Leather is another classic choice for a traditional home, but faux leather and leather-look items will also work for the budget-savvy shopper.
Favourite Example: Designed in an ivory and light grey colour scheme, this Worthington comforter set shows off the damask pattern beautifully while also providing a light accent to your bedroom. Alternately, the bonded leather on this Julia sofa will create the luxe look you want in your living space.
Many of the eras traditional home decor takes its cue from feature items with lavish design details. Intricately carved wooden desks, exotic living room tables and beautifully embroidered textiles all say the same thing to guests – the owner of this home appreciates fine detail and can afford such things.
Favourite Example: Scrolling, bronze-toned metal legs are just the start of the opulent details of this Bombay side table. With dark wood framing the glass-topped metal design, you’ll have no doubt this piece meets the concept of ornate. If you are looking for more opulent woodworking detail, this Tasha conversation set is an elegant place to sit with your guests.
When laying out your traditional furniture, think about the symmetry of your primary focal point as the key to good room flow. Under no circumstances should chaos rule. If you have a large couch, you’ll want matching tables on either side for a level look. If you’re decorating an office, the desk could be framed by bookcases or file drawers.
Favourite Example: Place this Harbour Bronze table lamp set on either side of the bed, your couch or on other sides of the room. When they are at the same height and position to each other, these lamps encourage balance and order.
In the past, traditional decor was a staple of the rich. Each accent was chosen to show off the wealth of its owner and ensure visitors never forgot the splendour of their host. Whether crystal chandeliers, gilded picture frames or elegant glass pieces, every single item offered a luxurious feel to the home.
Favourite Example: Framed in a stencil-etched glass border with exquisite detail, this Prague Venetian mirror is a small way to add a traditional yet polished look to any space in your home.