by Jami Zimmerman, Cheap Thrills Decor
I’ve been called many things in my life, but traditional was not one of them! Sometimes, potential clients are scared of me because they think I’m “out there.” I’ve had more than one start a meeting with “I will probably be your most boring client....” That is crazy talk! Although I admit that I like quirky and unique, I don’t think that cool and traditional are mutually exclusive. Even traditional has a hip twin sister!
The days of defining a traditional design style as grandmotherly matching furniture, Gone With the Wind heavy draperies, and loud chintz pattern overload are long gone. Although some people are still clinging to that aesthetic, most define it differently these days. Traditional interior styling has a fresh face that has a new generation excited. I’m not one for labels but many in the design universe have dubbed it “New Traditional.”
What is it? New Traditional has a current vibe. It has evolved in to a trendy twist on classic design. It’s brighter and fresher, but with a hint of history. It’s time-honored, but with bold punches of color. It’s also “no room is off limits” livable and comfortable. I like to think of it as classy Ralph Lauren meets a slice of cheery Elton John.
The great news is that you probably already own great pieces that will work in to the design scheme. They may need to be updated, reupholstered or painted but it’s a starting point. Here are a few more pointers to embrace the new traditionalist in you.
Supersize. The scale of furnishings is larger with sleeker lines. Think wing back chairs instead of daintier dining chairs. Blend more modern pieces with classic antiques. Comfort is king with large pillows and throws. Showrooms are filled with massive antique reproduction cabinets that now hold all the modern media trappings. You get vintage and modern all in one piece.
Pop. This new classic design is driven by bold color. Turquoise, celery, mandarin and citron are all bigger, bolder hues usually associated with a more modern design palate. Vibrant isn’t code for modern. In this hip, yet still traditional, style they are used as emphasis. Think crisp drapery; toss pillows, and accent walls. Traditional with a twist takes a less is more approach but with vivid, yummy colors that make an impact on your space.
Multiply. Everything is more fun in groups. It’s no different when it comes to art. Make your own art gallery by mixing found antique paintings with local artists, your children’s first-grade masterpiece along with words and phrases. Group nine square paintings or mirrors above a sofa (carefully measured of course). Go big or go home and display an oversized canvas that adds color and excitement to a space. It doesn’t even have to be real “art”. Find an object that speaks to you and hang it -- art is subjective. Even traditional eye candy can be irreverent and thought provoking.
Mix. Furniture sets are boring. Ok, there, I said it. Shake it up by combining pieces with cleaner lines alongside furnishings that are more ornate. Subtle layers of found pieces mixed with a more straightforward vase can be sheer genius in this new traditional universe.
Balance. Want a quick fast-forward to new traditional? Look down. Add youthfulness to a tired traditional interior with a rug -- it’s like a facelift for your floors. Ditch the outdated Orientals and throw down a look. You are looking for larger patterns and interesting textures that will make your space intriguing and pulled together.
Simplify. Say sayonara to heavy draperies. If Scarlet could use them as a ball gown then they should probably hit the road. Instead, go for tailored window panels or soft roman shades that frame windows without overpowering. This is also a great place to get some color in the room.
Lighten. Trade anything that feels heavy for light and airy. Ditch dust collectors like fake greenery and excessive tchotchkes (shocker coming from me but it is freeing!!). If it doesn’t add visual value to a space then it’s just eye clutter. The traditional of today is well appointed and dignified but not over accessorized (I try to impart this message on my 8 year-old before school everyday). Sometimes more is just more.
I know, it seems like there is a new trend every week. It can be hard to keep up. The cool thing about New Traditional is that it’s really just a new take on an old classic. Traditional doesn’t have to mean boring. New Traditional styling is about interesting choices that are personal and fresh. I like to freak out my most conservative clients by calling it Funky Fresh Classic or Sexy Traditional so that my reputation stays intact!