When you think of traditional interior design, dusty valances, dated parlors, and your Grandma’s floral couch likely come flashing to mind. But like mom jeans and “The Rachel” haircut, what’s old always becomes new and trendy again. That’s right: traditional interior design is officially back, but with a welcome, much-needed playful twist.
Unlike the stuffy, wallpaper-encased sitting rooms of the 1940s and 50s, today’s take on the trend has a distinctly modern touch. Yes, floral print, classic paint colors, and traditional silhouettes are hitting it big again, but these old-world items are now paired with marble accents, sculptural lighting, and a curved statement chair or two. Not to be confused with the grandmillennial trend, which leans a bit whimsical and vintage-inspired, today’s modern-classic look is storied, layered, and decidedly now. Think Pottery Barn meets CB2 (and then swoon).
Back Up: What's Traditional Interior Design?
Picture a Nancy Meyers set, a crisp white button down, and suede loafers, and you’re getting in the traditional mood. This style has roots in the 18th and 19th centuries with heavy English influences, but is slightly more grounded — it’s a classic wingback chair instead of an ornate Louis XV chair.
So What's Different About Traditional Interior Design 2.0?
Now, add in a little Eye Swoon, an oversized blazer, and sculptural gold jewelry to check the “trendy” box, and you have the updated modern-traditional aesthetic. We’re seeing classic spaces with a much-needed dose of playful pattern, dynamic color, and mixed materials for a look that feels storied and rich, yet modern.
Of course, it’s the mix of eras and influences that makes this iteration interesting. Think: traditional wainscotting with cheeky tiger print wallpaper, a rolled arm, fringed sofa with a high-contrast palette and sculptural lighting. It’s the duality of old and new that has us on the edge of our (tufted) seats.
Modern-Traditional Style Edit: The Key Elements
If you’re trying to add a little modern-traditional flair to your space, start with the below design elements:
- A classic base: wood floors, wainscoting, and if you’re lucky, a fireplace.
- Traditional furniture (rolled arms and wingbacks) paired with sculptural accents
- Unique color palettes ranging from Parisian high-contrast to balanced earth tones and rich traditional
- Fun patterns, from classic plaids and stripes to trending florals and abstract art
- Wallpaper is more than welcome!
- Mixed accents from different eras, whether modern, organic, or eclectic, so the look doesn’t feel one-dimensional
- Something surprising, whether it’s a playful pattern, fringe detail, or large abstract artwork
- Rich materials like marble and travertine
- Trendy touches like glam gold, cane, checkerboard print, or high-contrast matte black
- Shaded or sculptural lighting for a classic or current element — whichever the space needs more
Chair// Chandelier // Pillow
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