5 Traditional Living Rooms That Feel Timeless, Not Tired

Time Several Hours

Budget $ $$$

Skill Level

WORDS BY Gillian Grefe

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Published on August 11, 2020

When you think of “traditional interior design,” grandma’s living room might come to mind. Memories of overstuffed footrests, tea cozies, and baroque art—and you cringe. But rest assured, a traditional living room doesn’t have to be a dumping ground for unwanted family antiques or flea market finds. Rather, thoughtful traditional design is  filled with timeless touches that are always in style, and feels anything but tired.

Traditional design can slip into any space with the right choice of touches and accents. Adding more timeless elements can keep a room from feeling too trendy or of the moment, ensuring it still feels put together long after the latest fads have passed. Timeless patterns in the pillows and classic geometry in the honeycomb chandelier weave traditional design into a room filled with coastal vibes. The rattan and natural wood textures may feel new and now, but the ivory and blue  palette and classic chandelier ground the room in time-honored  style and familiar patterns.

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Traditional design creates the opportunity to give beloved flea market finds a deserving place in your space. The design style borrows inspiration not only from 18th and 19th-century European designs of France and England, but also the free-flowing and intricately patterned elements of Far East decor. 

Stage ornate china vases and accessories  with a timeless green, blue, and white palette for a sense of history and classic character. . Take this eclectic space for example. The console features a very traditional vignette with an arched mirror, blue and ivory chinoiserie vase, and two velvet green poufs nestled beneath. In this eclectic space, the staging on top of the dark walnut table shows off an Asian-inspired blue and ivory chinoiserie vase and arched mirror, with two velvet green poufs nestled beneath. 

The Persian-inspired heirloom rug is a great final touch that pulls together the color palette of blues, greens, and whites. When designing a living room with traditional style in mind, it’s an invitation to scour relatives attics or your local thrift store for unclaimed treasures to show off in your living space.  

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A hallmark of traditional design is ornately carved furniture that brings to mind a European flair. Tufted upholstery can be cozy to lounge in, but often, ornate Victorian furniture feels too heavy and dark. 

However, this doesn’t always have to be the case. Put a fresh twist on a traditional vibe with rolled arm sofas and tufted chairs in crisp, ivory fabrics for a lighter and more modern feel. A trestle coffee table or matching carved end tables also evoke traditional design in a living room. 

Adding to the traditional vibes without feeling too stuffy is the set of botanical prints on the wall. The detailed sketches feel both old school and on trend.

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Most traditional living rooms create a sense of calm and order the second you walk into them, often due to the style’s focus on symmetry within a space. 

A traditional living room has a sense of balance you won’t find in an artfully eclectic bohemian or eclectic living room. Here, everything is subtly mirrored–the pair of swivel chairs mirror each other and echo the sofa they face. A couple of ottomans visually divide the space into two parallel  segments, and the carefully placed wall lamps draw the eye to the trio of built-in bookshelves.

What keeps this room from feeling “hands-off” or cold is the gallery wall with modern prints. It still has symmetry, but it breaks the room’s refined rules,  inviting visitors to come in, take a seat, and enjoy a cocktail.

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Traditional design is known for dark finishes and rich jewel tones. The moody blue on the walls adds a modern twist to the classic feel of the matching emerald armchairs and camel leather tufted sofa

Tying the rich palette together is the show-stopping, grandma chic wallpaper on the ceiling. Throw in antique artwork and a few subtle chinoiserie accents across the shelves and fireplace to create a modern lounge with a traditional vibe. 

Traditional design has lived long after its trends faded due to its eye for balance, beauty, and classic details. You don’t need to haul in a pair of massive couches and dusty drapes to make a room feel traditional. A few thoughtful touches in a living room can make it feel that perfect mix of modern sensibilities and timeless style.

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Words by Emma Diehl