The New Traditional Decorating Style

  • 01 of 10

    Decorating in the New Traditional Style

    New Traditional Bedroom Style
    Mix old and new together, and you get new traditional. Photo courtesy of Sarah Richardson Design

    While traditional furniture and décor has plenty of history and can be quite beautiful, when it’s overdone it can feel rather heavy, dark, and dated. And although modern style has a clean, exciting vibe, it’s also sometimes a bit too stark, colorless, or uncomfortable. Luckily, there’s a happy medium in between these two decorating themes: new traditional. This blend of the old and the new celebrates the best of each, creating a look that is both timeless and timely. Here are ten bedrooms that...MORE show you how to do new traditional right, starting with this beautiful, soothing room from Sarah Richardson Design.

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  • 02 of 10

    Update Your Area Rug

    Blue bedroom with antique hutch.
    Natural materials bring modern flair to a traditional bedroom. Photo courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens

    Old traditional: Oriental rugs

    New traditional: geometric prints, animal hides, or rugs woven from natural materials such as jute, seagrass, or sisal.

    Whether your bedroom floor is covered with wall-to-wall carpet or bare wood, an area rug is a great way to add a dose of color, texture, or pattern to the space. And although Oriental rugs are the very definition of a traditional, classic style, you’ll add a lot more pizzazz to your room with something more contemporary on the floor. Keep it sedate...MORE with a natural rug, like the one shown here, or go bright and cheerful with a geometric print; either way, you’ll add a fresh flavor to your traditional furniture.

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  • 03 of 10

    Classic Lines, Unfussy Details

    Elegant, neutral bedroom.
    Updated classic designs are so elegant. Photo courtesy of Key Interiors by Shinay

    Old traditional: dark, ornate, and heavy furniture.

    New traditional: classic lines, but less fussy details.

    One way to maintain the classic, elegant style of traditional décor while adding modern flair is to choose furniture that follows traditional shapes while omitting the ornate details so popular in the past. So instead of an armchair or bench with claw feet or elaborately turned legs, choose a luxuriously upholstered, classically shaped piece with simple legs instead. For example, in the...MORE bedroom featured here, the traditional bedside table and small chest of drawers are beautifully complemented by the traditionally shaped, yet contemporarily styled, loveseat, ottoman, and armchair.

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  • 04 of 10

    Mix Up Your Eras

    Eclectic bedroom with gorgeous bed.
    Mix and match your favorite decorating eras. Photo courtesy of Rachel Reider Interiors

    Old traditional: a room filled with furniture from the same time period.

    New traditional: a blend of old and new styles.

    When it comes to furniture, the word “traditional” is really an umbrella term referring to modern-day takes on many of the furniture styles popular during the 1700s and 1800s, such as Queen Anne or Victorian. Today’s traditional is often less ornate, dark, and heavy than the original styles it’s modeled on, but it’s still more ornately trimmed and styled than contemporary...MORE designs.

    A bedroom decorated with all traditional furniture tends to look somewhat dated, but it’s easy to shake things up a bit by adding a few pieces of contemporary décor to the mix. For example, the beautiful, traditional bed shown here might be too dark and imposing in a room filled with equally traditional pieces, but add in a mirrored, retro bedside table, an intriguing hanging light, unexpected polka dot shams, and a brightly colored abstract painting hung way down low, and now the room (decorated by Rachel Reider Interiors) has a delightfully eclectic, welcoming and more relaxed vibe.   

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  • 05 of 10

    Go With a Gallery Wall

    Bedroom with dog sketches.
    Create a gallery wall in your bedroom. Photo courtesy of Ty Larkins Interiors

    Old traditional: one large piece of framed artwork over the bed.

    New traditional: a gallery wall or several medium-sized pieces over the bed or dresser.

    When it comes to your bedroom artwork, the best rule is to choose what you love. If that’s one large piece in the position of honor over your headboard or dresser, go for it. But if you are looking to try something new, and especially if you want to give a modern sensibility to traditional furniture, consider hanging a grouping of medium-sized...MORE pieces, or a gallery of smaller artwork, instead, as in this bedroom by Ty Larkins Interiors. (The adorable charcoal dog sketches are from artist Valerie Davide, and are available from many art websites.)

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  • 06 of 10

    Forget the Fussy Drapes

    Masculine traditional bedroom.
    Keep your window coverings simple. Photo courtesy of Robert Brown Interiors

    Old traditional: heavy, ornate draperies topped with valences and trimmed with ruffles.

    New traditional: simple drapes topping window shades, or decorative shades on their own. No fancy valences, swags, ruffles, or tiebacks.

    The surest way to make a traditionally furnished room look dated is to cover the windows with fussy, ruffled, heavy draperies that bring back memories of Grandma. Instead, choose simple curtains, whether solid or patterned, and hang them over a shade if necessary for extra...MORE privacy. Or follow the example of the bedroom shown here, and forego draperies altogether in favor of gorgeous Roman shades that are bold enough (and opaque enough) to hold their own without need of valences or cornices. The result is fresh and clean, yet still elegantly classic.

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  • 07 of 10

    Have Some Fun

    Adorable bedroom.
    No need to stick with traditional artwork in the new traditional style. Photo courtesy of Zillow

    Old traditional: formal artwork on the walls, such as framed paintings.

    New traditional: whatever strikes your fancy.

    While formal artwork is always a suitable choice, it’s no longer your only option if you prefer traditional furniture. Instead, why not have some fun with a unique wall hanging, a mural, a quilt, or even a collection of hats, mirrors, plates, or whatever else makes you smile? A touch of whimsy is a surefire way to bring traditional furnishings out of the past and into the present.

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  • 08 of 10

    Break Up Your Furniture Set

    Eclectic bedroom.
    Get eclectic with your decor. Photo courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens

    Old traditional: a complete set of matching bedroom furniture.

    New traditional: furniture that complements, but does not match.

    While it might be easy and safe to buy a matching set of bedroom furniture, there’s always the danger that such a room is going to look boring or devoid of personality. In the new traditional style, eclectic mixing and matching of furniture gives the room a lively, interesting and most of all, personalized vibe that is far more fun than a bedroom straight off the showroom...MORE floor. So go ahead and set your midcentury modern dresser next to your traditional sleigh bed; as long as you choose pieces that complement each other, and use color, shape and scale to harmonize the space, you’ll do just fine.

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  • 09 of 10

    Keep It Simple

    Antique bed.
    Less is more in the relaxed bedroom. Photo courtesy of Domino

    Old traditional: lots of collectibles or knickknacks.

    New traditional: just a few pieces that you really love.

    The most common words people choose when describing their dream bedroom are “relaxing,” “peaceful,” and “calm.” To get that soothing vibe, it helps to have clean and simple surroundings, without a lot of clutter or fuss. That’s why the new traditional style foregoes large collections of bric-a-brac in favor of a more streamlined look. That definitely doesn’t mean without personality or as...MORE stark as minimalism; it merely means that decorative accessories should be limited to just a few special pieces.

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  • 10 of 10

    Switch to a Drum Lampshade

    Bedroom with antique nightstand.
    Update your bedside lamp with a drum lampshade. Photo courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens

    Old traditional: fussy lampshade styles, including pleated, scalloped, bell and pagoda.

    New traditional: clean and simple drum lampshades, whether white, black or a bright color or pattern.

    If you want to give your bedroom a quick and easy update from old-fashioned to new traditional, just swap out your bedside lamp’s flared or elaborately designed lampshade for a more fashionable drum shade. The clean simplicity of a drum lampshade provides a welcome contrast to traditional furniture’s ornate...MORE lines and trim.