14 Elegant and Timeless Traditional Living Rooms

Traditional and elegant styled living room with neutral colors and architectural details

The Spruce / Michelle Becker

Today’s traditional style living rooms are based largely on 18th- and 19th-century European styles and conventional notions of what a home looks like. Timeless and placeless, comfortable and put together without being stuffy, traditional living rooms are classic, warm, comforting, and familiar rather than trendy or cutting edge. 

But just because traditional living rooms rely on the past as a reference point doesn’t mean that they haven’t evolved with the times. These days, traditional style encompasses the granny chic revival started by grandmillennials; new traditional interiors that add contemporary pieces, bolder colors, and antique and vintage furniture and decor to the mix; and the traditional and contemporary design mash-up that is known as transitional style.

Check out these traditional living rooms to help inspire you to create a warm and welcoming place to gather with family and entertain friends that will never go out of style. 

  • 01 of 14

    Use Warm Colors

    Traditional living room with gilt mirror
    Cameron Mobley Interior Design

    One of the hallmarks of traditional style is symmetry. While rooms aren't always made up of perfect mirror images, they are usually well balanced, both in terms of furniture and architecture. In this traditional living room by Cameron Mobley Interior Design, the armchairs are completely different from one another, but they are similarly sized, balancing each other out and maintaining the symmetry of the space.

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  • 02 of 14

    Focus on the Fireplace

    Traditional living room

    Design by Regas Interiors / Photo by Woodie Williams

    Since traditional rooms rely on balance and symmetry, having such a distinct focal point to arrange furniture around is ideal. A giant stone fireplace is the perfect starting point for a comfortable, traditionally decorated living room from Regas Interiors. Muted neutrals, soft textiles, and inviting furniture to create a feeling of relaxed elegance.

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  • 03 of 14

    Add Wood Panelling

    Traditional living room with wood paneling
    PFA Design Group

    Nothing says traditional like a room with mahogany or cherry wood paneled walls. Different from the cheap veneer paneling popular in the 1970s, the solid wood, rich color, and detailed millwork in this living room from PFA Design Group is a hallmark of the traditional style.

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  • 04 of 14

    Use Traditional Details

    traditional living room
    Gray Walker Interiors

    One of the trademarks of traditional design is fussy details like the ruffled decoration at the top of the window treatments and the fringe at the bottom of the armchairs in this living room from Gray Walker Interiors. When used in moderation, these types of embellishments add just the right amount of ornamentation. When it comes to traditional rooms, a little fuss is something to celebrate.

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  • 05 of 14

    Highlight Exposed Beams

    Traditional lakeside living room

    Design by Markalunas Architecture Group / Photo by Rachael Boling

    While it's normal to see a fair bit of color in traditional living rooms, an all-neutral space like this one is more than acceptable. And while a lot of frills and details are also often found in traditional rooms, they're not mandatory. This living room designed by Markalunas Architecture Group is more demure than most traditional spaces, but it still fits in thanks to the architecture, materials, and symmetrical furniture arrangements.

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  • 06 of 14

    Use Soft Colors

    traditional living room
    Amanda Carol Interiors

    Traditional style is often associated with grand spaces, but there's no reason why a smaller space can't be decorated in an elegant, traditional way. This elegant room has high ceilings but not a lot of floor space, so Amanda Carol Interiors substituted a coffee table for two ottomans, used large-scale art to balance out the window, and incorporated tall millwork over the mantel to draw the eye upwards.

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  • 07 of 14

    Add Pattern

    traditional living room
    McGrath II

    In traditional living rooms, the pieces don't all need to match, but they should definitely relate to each other in terms of style, shape, and overall weight like they do in this room designed by McGrath II. While an offbeat piece can certainly be incorporated as contrast or a statement piece, don't stray too far from the traditional baseline. While it's fun to experiment, if you're into really unexpected combinations, this probably isn't the style for you.

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  • 08 of 14

    Mix Elegance with Comfort

    Traditional living room
    ACR Villa Skovly

    Although you occasionally see delicate armchairs in traditional living rooms, the emphasis when it comes to seating is really on comfortable, sit-back-and-relax pieces. Traditional roll arm or William Birch sofas like the ones in this room from ACR Villa Skovly are loaded with throw pillows to up the comfort level.

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  • 09 of 14

    Use Bold Pattern

    Traditional blue and white living room
    SoCal Contractor

    While traditional rooms have a reputation for being calm and relaxing, they do like to have a little fun by way of patterns. Plaids, toiles, stripes, and florals are all perfectly at home—especially large-scale versions of these patterns, as featured in this blue living room from So Cal Contractor. Geometrics and animal prints can also be incorporated, but use them sparingly as they can throw off the vibe and take the style in a different direction. 

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  • 10 of 14

    Keep It Fresh

    Traditional living room with high ceilings
    Mosaic Architects

    Traditional rooms like this one from Mosaic Architects don't speak to any specific age group and could belong to a family or couple, young or old. There's a familiarity to it which is inherently comfortable, but it's definitely not old or dated. In fact, there's a freshness to this space thanks to the tightly upholstered furniture, iron lantern, and architectural details that make it look current.

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  • 11 of 14

    Add Built-In Bookcases

    traditional living room built-ins

    NV Design

    Built-in bookcases are an ideal storage solution for traditional living rooms like this one from NV Design. To make sure the look doesn't veer into a contemporary territory, consider adding some decorative ​molding around the perimeter, picture lights at the top, and be sure to use traditional hardware on cabinet doors.

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  • 12 of 14

    Mix in Modern Pieces

    Traditional living room with statement light fixture
    VV Design

    Just because a room is traditional, it doesn't mean it can't still have one or two modern pieces. A midcentury modern sputnik chandelier creates contrast and adds an element of urban cool to this elegant traditional living room from VV Design.

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  • 13 of 14

    Add Floor-to-Ceiling Drapes

    traditional living room
    Salvesen Graham

    To really bring home the traditional style, include dramatic floor-to-ceiling window treatments like the drapes in this room from London-based Salvesen Graham. They can be pleated or not, have valances or not, and use tiebacks or not. However, make sure that they go all the way from the floor to the ceiling in order to get the full effect.

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  • 14 of 14

    Add Refinement

    Traditional living room with detailed ceiling

    Rinfret, Ltd. Interior Design

    There's no style that lends itself to elegance and sophistication better than traditional style. Balance and symmetry are subconsciously pleasing to the eye, and when combined with luxurious fabrics, refined colors, and delicate architectural detailing it creates an elegant style that will stand the test of time, like this sky blue room by Rinfret, Ltd. Interior Design as an example.

What is a traditional living room?

A traditional style living room is classic, warm, comforting, and familiar, rooted in the traditions of the past without being specific to any single time period. The kinds of furniture, textiles, color palettes, and decor used in traditionally designed rooms reference history and are familiar rather than trend-setting. For example, a traditional living room might include a neutral color scheme; a sofa with matching end tables and table lamps; and a classic fireplace with a framed landscape painting or an antique gilded mirror over the mantel.

How can I make my traditional living room look more modern?

An easy way to make a traditional living room look more modern is to accent with modern decor pieces such as area rugs, lighting, black-and-white photography or contemporary art. You can modernize a traditional living room by adding bold and unexpected colors on the upholstery or the walls using paint or wallpaper. Traditional living rooms can feel stuffy and staid when they are too symmetrical and matchy-matchy, so don’t be afraid to modernize them by using mismatched seating, lamps, or end tables, or to replace overly formal window treatments like heavy drapes with modern shades and lightweight curtains.

Is traditional furniture out of style?

Traditional furniture is timeless and trend-proof and will never really go out of style. While many people prefer more modern and contemporary styles, those who take comfort in the familiar will always reach for tried and true classics. And modern designers are constantly using the traditional furniture as inspiration, riffing on the past with new versions of traditional styles that use inventive materials and technological innovations to create contemporary furniture and decor with a sense of history that blends old and new