Do you love the feeling of warmth and welcome in a home? Do you gravitate toward a style of rich comfort more than formality? The colonial era-born traditional style just might be what you’re after. While inspiration for this style type does come from the past, it’s ultimately about comfort, warmth, familiarity, and pleasantly predictable order.
Symmetry and Balance. As mentioned, the traditional style aims always to be functional and comfortable. From your architecture to your furnishings, you need to let an inherent sense of order prevail in the space’s layout. Place large, heavy furniture opposite larger focal points such as a fireplace or windows in conventional arrangements that work to visually balance out the space.
Keeping a feel toward the axis of the room itself, create structured conversational units with furniture. It’s a good idea to group and arrange furniture (which will be comfortable in and of itself…but we’ll get to that later) symmetrically whenever possible.
Warm Color Palette. Inspired from a time when a home’s colors were warm and encompassing, traditional style maintains the use of rich, dignified colors today. Colors aren’t the focal point of a traditional space; rather, they take backstage and are happy to provide warmth to the space overall.
The most neutral of neutrals (think beige, tan, taupe) are a mainstay, particularly when combined with deeper, richer tones of brown, blue, red, and green. One trick of playing with color in a traditional space is to keep things tone-on-tone – if you love a brighter, more modern color, for example, you can help it to mellow out and work in a traditional space by pairing it with similar but more restrained hues.
Rich, Warm Wood Tones. Darker wood tones lead the way in traditional style. Think oak, mahogany, walnut, or cherry, mahogany, oak. You want a feeling of presence and depth in your use of wood, which is sometimes hard to achieve with blonder woods and bamboo. Of course, your traditionally styled space needn’t be completely covered in wood to be successful – even small touches (for example, cedar ceiling beams, or cherry railings on a cream staircase) carry the look of sophisticated coziness home.
Tailored and Refined Furnishings. Traditional rooms veer far from sharp angles and harsh lines. Instead, they embrace soft edges and curves and sumptuousness. Furnishings are usually upholstered and fairly formal but are designed to invite people to sink right in through their careful conversation-promoting arrangement.
Opt for skirted pieces to provide a sense of coziness and to balance out the legginess of tables and other chairs. Make sure that each piece is comfortable and inviting in and of itself and that there are enough pillows for the taking.
Cozy and Welcoming Textiles. A huge component of traditional style is its abundance of fabrics. Drapes or other window treatments in rich-hued traditional fabrics (think damask, velvet, chintz) will likely involve plenty of fabric that falls gracefully to the floor. Patterns that find a place in traditional spaces tend to be (no surprise here) traditional patterns – florals, plaids, stripes, even toile.
Feel free to mix and match patterns to freshen up your space, but be sure to keep a tight rein on the color palette. Non-fabric textiles play an important role as well; choose crystal embellishments on lighting fixtures, warmer metals (bronze, brass, copper) for plumbing, and gilded frames for artwork.
Dignified Trim and Mouldings. Perhaps the first thing you notice when you see a traditional space is the beautiful craftsman finishing touches – mouldings from floor to ceiling and trim around every architectural elements.
These details can range anywhere from highly ornate to very simple – the key to helping them maintain a traditional style is the visual weight they carry, regardless of intricacy. You want the architectural elements of the space, not just the furnishings, to feel entirely stately, and substantive trim accomplishes this.