Decor Mash-Ups: Traditional + Modern

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The two easiest decor styles to identify are traditional and modern. One uses gentle curves, luxurious colors and looks inspired by the “good old days”, while the other is known for its sharp angles, contrasting and minimalist colors and its sometimes futuristic style.

If you look in the dictionary, these words are antonyms. They mean the opposite of each other.

So why bring them together in home decor? After all, it seems that the ideas and principles behind each style actually contradict each other.

Well, if home decor was about semantics, sure. But since it isn’t, you actually can bring them together in a beautiful and harmonious home decor. If you enjoy modern life but still look for the comfort of well-known things, or if you are a forward-looking traditionalist, you can bring all your tastes together in beautiful home designs.

First step: Choose your focal point

By focal point here, I mean which part of the design will be traditional and which one will be modern. To help with consistency, you’ll want to focus on one thing at a time: for example, a modern open space with traditional furniture, or traditional wall decoration with minimalist seating. You can match a modern mosaic floor style with traditional wood kitchen counters. The trick is to balance both elements so none really takes over.

This bathroom is a perfect example of balanced traditional and modern elements. The vanity and doorknob could fit any traditional house; the sparse use of yellow and the light fixtures are modern. The use of white is pretty much universal for bathrooms, whether it’s modern or traditional, so the designer could focus on other things.

Second step: Choose colors carefully

One of the challenges of this particular genre mash-up is colors. Traditional styles can use a wide color palette and allow for softer hues than modern decor. Modern decor, on the other hand, prefers brights and highly contrasting shades. It’s a difficult balancing act, but it’s totally possible!

Take this stunning dining room, for example. The shapes and materials are traditional: dark wood, curved chairs and even a sofa. But the designer paired the traditional furniture style with very modern accents: the cushions. The patterns use the kinds of colors you’d see in a modern decor: black, white, red, blue, green, orange and yellow. It’s just the perfect balance between traditional and fashion-forward.

Third step: It’s all in the details

Once you’ve decided on your main focus points and your colors, it’s time to look at the details. The addition (or removal) of a decor element can make or break the balance between modern and traditional.

This room is a perfect example of how a decor can come together when the details are right. The traditional landscape painting contrasts with the modern patterns of the cushions. The worn carpet adds a touch of “well-loved” and makes an interesting counterpoint to the bright modern chair to the left. This room is a fascinating study in bringing seemingly disparate decor elements together gracefully.

Fourth step: Be bold

My last but most important advice for you: don’t be afraid to be bold. Your home decor is all about you, so if you want to try something new or unexpected, go ahead. If you like Victorian chandeliers and modern-style dining furniture, go ahead and put them together. At least it’ll get a conversation going!

This is a great example of a bold design choice. The graphic walls are definitely modern, while the the carpet and the shelves would be right at home in a traditional setting. Despite their apparent disparity, however, they fit really well together! I personally think that it’s the dog statue that ties the whole together, but you’re welcome to give me your theory.

If you feel like your decor affiliations can’t fit together, think again: anything is possible, even matching traditional and modern.

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Anabelle Bernard Fournier

Anabelle is a freelance writer, writing teacher and blogger. She spends a lot of time at home, so she likes to make sure that it's cozy and nice, especially in her reading nook. In her free time, Anabelle knits, walks and learns how to write stories.