Monday, April 9, 2012

So Your Style is: Traditional

By: Lisa Frederick (Courtesy of Houzz)

Smitten with classic home design?

What it is: From antique furnishings to floral-print fabrics, traditional style sometimes gets a bad rap as fusty and outdated. But that's missing the point. While it's true that this look takes its inspiration from the past, it's really about comfort. Every element feels familiar, properly placed and predictable — in a good way.

Why it works: There's a reason that traditional decorating has thrived for so long. It promises warmth and welcome, and it delivers. Refined furnishings, mannerly textiles, dignified colors and a sense of order make this beloved style easy to live with. What's more appealing than that?

You'll love it if... Chaos makes you queasy. Your favorite movies are untouched by Technicolor. You've vacationed in the same spot since you were 12. You swoon over Blue Willow and Wedgwood. Your ideal day involves a bookshelf full of classics and a tumbler of Scotch. You own anything tartan.

If you're thinking Yes! Totally me!, read on for a breakdown of what traditional style is all about, plus tactics for keeping it current.

Style Secret: Symmetry

The traditional look is all about balance, from architecture to furniture placement. Furnishings tend to be grouped in formal arrangements that invite conversation, and positioned along the axis of a room. Your pieces don't all have to match, but this isn't the style for you if you're drawn to an offbeat, eclectic mix.

Make it fresh: Although you don't want to stray too far from symmetrical placement, there are subtle ways to keep a room from feeling static. Prop a tall mirror against one wall, hang art in a grouping that creates a sense of motion, or angle a cocktail table next to an armchair. Here, the irregular shape of the rug loosens the room just enough to give it energy.

Style Secret: Soft Edges

No sharp angles here — traditional rooms emphasize curves and sink-right-in comfort. Skirted pieces feel cozy and genteel and counterbalance leggy tables and chairs. Cushions are plump; pillows are plentiful.

Make it fresh: Keep skirts tailored to avoid a dated look, and choose neutral, textural fabrics to make an old-fashioned sofa or chair feel of the moment. And refrain from cramming lots of tufted furniture into a single room, or you risk looking too Victorian.

Style Secret: Conservative Color

 In a traditional space, color doesn't shout — it's laid-back and mellow. Neutrals such as
cream, beige, taupe and tan prevail, but deeper browns, reds, greens and blues (think about a paneled library) look fab in traditional interiors as well.

Make it fresh: Neutrals are always in good taste, but if you don't want to play it too safe, think beyond the basics. Pale blue, lavender, spring green, chamois or even soft red can work in this way.

Keeping colors tone-on-tone is the key to making them sit down. Bright shades, such as lemon yellow, fuchsia or turquoise, feel newer, but to keep the style planted in traditional territory, balance them with more restrained hues — and stick with conventional positioning, architecture and accessories.

Style Secret: Rich Wood Tones

Walnut, cherry, mahogany, oak — darker wood tones rule traditional style (leave the bamboo and blond maple to another house).

From walnut railings on a white staircase to cedar beams across the ceiling, it provides the warmth and coziness so essential to this look.

Make it fresh: Let hardwood floors shine: don't leave them completely bare, but don't obscure them with a rug that's too big. Layer in wood furnishings that are in the same color family for a collected, yet still pulled-together, look.

Style Secret: Statement Molding and Trim

Traditional rooms are known for their beautiful finishing touches. Often, millwork and plasterwork bears strong detailing, including venerable motifs such as egg-and-dart or Greek key, and is painted crisp white or ivory. Although traditional trim doesn't have to be ornate, it does need to add visual weight; skimpy moldings or a floating mantel won't seem at home.

Make it fresh: Give an elaborately carved fireplace surround an updated spin by keeping the mantel arrangement simple and clean. Let wainscoting blend into the wall. Eschew elaborate columns and finials in favor of cleaner — but still classic — lines.

Style Secret: Exotic Rugs

Kilims, Persian carpets and Oriental rugs never go out of style (good thing, because after you spend the cash for a top-quality floor covering, you won't want to hide it away). And they're like fine jewelry: You can make them work with anything. They have a way of blending into the background, yet their presence always anchors the room.

Make it fresh: Frankly, this is one element that's better as-is. But if you want to try something different, you could
layer an Oriental rug on top of a sisal or seagrass one (not, we beg you, the other way around). Or play with scale: a small rug next to a larger one, or three narrow rugs in a row.

  Style Secret: Gentle Shine, Showy Sparkle

Skip the chrome — you want metals with soft, warm undertones. Think brass, bronze and copper for lighting and plumbing fixtures. Gilt-framed mirrors and artwork are always on point. Crystal chandeliers and sconces complement traditional elegance nicely.

Make it fresh: First: No '80s-era shiny brass. Instead, choose metals with some tarnish, patina or texture. Oil-rubbed bronze looks updated but blends well with classic d├ęcor. Or try pewter — it worked for the Colonists.

Style Secret: Pretty Patterns

Plaids, stripes, florals, toile and more — each has a place in traditional style (sometimes, all in the same room). Feel free to mix and match, but stay in the same tight palette, and don't go too bold or splashy.

Make it fresh: No matter what, patterns in a traditional room should have that fundamental sense of symmetry. But you can update them by choosing an oversize scale and upbeat color. The damask fabric on the dining chair here adds punch without straying too far from its traditional roots.

Style Secret: Refined Window Treatments

Sweeping silhouettes, luxe fabrics and embellishments such as tassels draw attention to traditional draperies. Panels — either straight or pleated, and with or without finials or tiebacks — and valances are old standbys. Simple plantation shutters work well too.

Make it fresh: Don't let draperies puddle, which feels tired. Layer simple curtain panels over a rattan or bamboo shade instead of sheers. If you're a fan of streamlined styles, choose Roman shades. Just be careful about matching curtain fabric to furniture fabric; too much of the same print can feel cloying and overwrought.

Style Secret: Artful Accessories
Just as a good host blanches at the thought of seeing guests underfed, a traditionalist can't stomach cold, blank walls or sparsely populated shelves, which defeat the all-important air of welcome. Collections are massed together or fanned out in a logical way: china, figurines, plants, books, boxes, globes.

If it's not mounted over the mantel, art usually follows the hang-it-at-eye-level rule; a group of similar pieces often sport identical frames and are arranged in a tidy grid. Plates and platters look right at home on the walls. Mirrors tend to be grand and gracious (think sunburst, bull's-eye or Venetian).

Make it fresh: Austere paintings and sculpture will strike an off note in a traditional space, but you don't have to stick with Renoir reproductions and hunting scenes, either. Lots of modern art feels soft and graceful enough to fit in, and, of course, black-and-white photography is timeless and versatile. Leaving canvases frameless can make them feel less formal.

Unless you're into fern bars, pass up frilly plants in favor of more sculptural foliage. Consider simple ironstone, Delft or creamware instead of porcelain; balance elaborately patterned pieces with clean white ones.
Confused on how to put all of these style secrets together for your remodeling project? Call Cabinet-S-Top 330-239-3630 to set up an appointment to meet with one of our designers.  Or just stop by our showroom located at 1977 Medina Road, Medina and let us assist you in bringing together the best of the traditional look to your kitchen or bath. 

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