Room Recipe: New Classic

Time Several Hours

Budget $ $$$

Skill Level

WORDS BY Kelly O'Reilly

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Published on March 29, 2021

It’s good to have that one friend in your life. You know the one: she’s fun to be around, but makes sure you’re home at a reasonable hour. She keeps you on your toes, but she’s also easygoing. You look up to her but you can be yourself around her, too.

If she were a room style, she’d totally be New Classic.

Havenly designer Kelsey Fischer introduces us to the vibe: “I would define this style as a mix of modern and traditional elements and silhouettes that gives you a polished, pulled-together look but doesn’t lose the welcoming feeling of a classic, inviting home.” 

Think elegant but easy, intentional but totally livable. Striking that balance can make a space feel so good, it’s many people’s ideal, as showcased in the Netflix series, “Dream Home Makeover” the show’s headlining designers at Studio McGee have built a cult following around the aesthetic). 

For those craving a New Classic upgrade in their own home, Kelsey has good news—it’s entirely achievable. “You can create a space that feels great whether you’re a working, single professional or if you stay at home with four small kids, while maintaining that very cohesive and styled feel.” 

At the same time, says Kelsey, “it can be hard to define or explain the variation of this look sometimes.”

So, how does one infuse New Classic into their home? Kelsey helps us cook something up in this Room Recipe.

Start with a Good, Neutral Base

A sofa or bed that has clean lines and a muted, neutral palette creates the perfect foundation to layer in color, pattern, and texture. Still, it’s key to remember that neutrals are just part of the equation. “We have a tendency to play it safe sometimes and stick to what we know, like gray,” she says. “But you want to avoid going too monochromatic with all grays or all matching tones.”

Mix Your Materials — But Keep It Natural

Now for the fun part: layering. “You can bring in leather, heavy woven linen, rattan, pottery, or iron,” Kelsey says. “Mixing and layering these elements will give you that really effortless-but-styled look with depth of texture.”

Add to that depth even further by playing with finishes. “Don’t be afraid to mix wood tones,” Kelsey assures us. “I see a lot of defaulting to matching everything or coordinating all finishes and tones, but layering of stains is a big part of this style.” That could mean combining light oak with a dark walnut, for example, or even a whitewash wood. 

Employ Pattern

Once you’ve got your versatile neutral base and cozy natural textures, you’re free to play a little bit. “Pull in a few pops of pattern here and there to help the space feel fresh and inviting,” says Kelsey. A few of her suggestions to make the space feel great: patterned vintage rugs, pillows, ottomans, and throws.

Create Some Contrast

Classic interior design doesn’t have to mean one-dimensional design, and Kelsey reminds us that it’s possible to be a bit moody at the same time. “Accent features like a bookcase, kitchen island or built-in cabinet or wall paneling can add a lot of depth, as high-contrast elements and provide an anchor to play off of,” says Kelsey.

Remember all that mixing of wood stains? Contrast comes into play again with contrasting finishes. As far as New Classic is concerned, you’re well within your design rights to pair a brass pendant with black hardware in the kitchen.

Tie It Together with Modern Accents

Time to top it all off with a sleek-silhouette accent chair or a modern-esque piece of artwork. “These accents help balance the classic space so it feels cool and updated, rather than too traditional or stuffy,” Kelsey says.  

All together, you’ve got a space where you love hanging out — basically your BFF in room form.

Classic? Boho? Something else entirely? Get to know your own unique style with our quiz.

Words by Kelly O'Reilly