Traditional Furniture, Design & Decor
What is Traditional Style?
Traditional style embodies the warm, nostalgic vibe that many people may associate with the home they grew up in. Most traditional furniture and decor features symmetrical silhouettes and decorative detailing, resulting in a comfy yet classic look. Decorating your home in this design style promotes an atmosphere of casual sophistication, perfect for both laidback and upscale get-togethers.
Looking to apply traditional interior design principles to your home? This traditional furniture style guide can help you:
- Define traditional style and its origins when it comes to interior design.
- Learn about the characteristics of traditional design as a whole.
- Capture the essence of traditional decorating style room-by-room with furniture and decor.
- Use other traditional home decor ideas throughout your living space.
Traditional furniture style has a timeless appeal that helps them stay fashionable as trends change. Based on the European decor styles of the 18th and 19th centuries, traditional furniture design includes ornate detailing and functional symmetry. Accents like English cabriole legs and French style chandeliers are familiar fixtures in traditional layouts.
Today, many homes showcase a more updated take on traditional design. Some might incorporate modern or contemporary pieces with bold colors and simple lighting, giving the space a more transitional look. Even so, the original vibe of this classic interior decorating style still shines through in the comfortable materials and conventional designs.
When incorporating a traditional decorating style into your home, it’s important to focus on fulfilling the practical purpose of each room while also designing a beautiful, coordinated look. Rather than creating a lot of contrast with intense hues and intricate patterns, select traditional furniture and decor that balances comfort and subtle elegance. Consider pieces with traditional style elements like:
- Rich Wood Finishes: Most classic furniture features rich mahogany, oak, walnut or cherry finishes. Dark wood coffee tables, dining room sets and bed frames have a natural, refined glow that gives your layout a chic yet homey touch.
- Neutral Color Palettes: Neutral shades of black, white and gray create a synchronized, soothing foundation for your design. Add warmth to your palette by incorporating earth tones like beige, taupe and soft brown, then accentuate the space with a few jewel-toned fixtures.
- Patterns: Decorative patterns and prints are a staple of traditional design. Floral, damask, brocade, toile, paisley, Fleur-de-Lis and chinoiserie are among the many patterns you can find on fabric accent chairs, throw pillows and bedding in traditional furniture design.
- Symmetry and Balance: Coordinating nightstand or end table sets create the symmetrical look that traditional interiors require. Most pieces also come from the same collections and feature upholsteries in similar colors and themes.
- Artful Detail and Design: Despite its subtle style, traditional furniture can still look like a work of art. Many pieces have ornate embellishments like tufting, claw feet, soft curves and carved wood detailing. Other complementary furnishings may include unique accessories such as small figurines, wall art, fine china and statuettes.
A well-put-together traditional interior design should be free of clutter and frivolous decoration. When furnishing a room in traditional style, a good rule of thumb is to display primary furniture prominently in the center of the room. From there, you can surround the larger pieces with coordinating accents to balance the layout. Use the following tips to create a traditional design in every room.
Traditional Living Room Ideas
When decorating a living room, your traditional design must provide a comfortable backdrop for gatherings with family and friends. Arrange furniture around a TV stand, cozy fireplace or another focal point to create the perfect understated setup. Try outfitting your layout with traditional living room furniture such as:
- Sofas and Couches: Traditional sofas and loveseats often have graceful accents like rolled arms, nailhead trim and rounded edges. A traditional living room might have one or two couches set across from one another. Look for patterned upholstery with subtle stripes or stick with a tufted beige sofa for a simpler design.
- Coffee Table Sets: Most traditional living room table sets feature dark wood finishes, scrolled legs, and carved designs. Frame your sofa with a pair of coordinating end tables and place a traditional coffee table in the center of the space to tie the seating arrangement together.
- Ottomans: Adding a traditional ottoman to your living room set brings an extra touch of plush comfort to the room. Consider upholstered ottomans with soft, linen fabric and details like striped motifs, button tufting, reeded legs or skirted bottoms.
- Arm Chairs: Elegant and cozy, arm chairs are a staple piece in many traditional-style family rooms. These seats work well in sets of two, especially when you place an accent table between them to create a private sitting area away from the rest of the living room furniture.
- Accent Seating: A traditional side chair or tufted chaise with a bolster pillow is a beautiful accent to your living room seating arrangement. It can also serve as a graceful lounging spot in front of a large picture window. For an extra elegant boost, choose accent seating with luxurious fabric like velvet or chiffon.
Traditional Bedroom Furniture
Dark wood furniture, comfy bed linens and neutral-colored walls create a classic, cozy theme when decorating a bedroom. While you may want to include more luxurious materials, high-quality finishes, expansive rugs and large king beds in a primary bedroom, you can also find smaller furnishings for a traditional-style guest room. Your traditional bedroom set may include:
- Bed Frames: Stately traditional beds are usually the focal point of traditional-style bedrooms. Dramatic sleigh, canopy or poster beds lend an air of grace and grandeur to your layout. Also, upholstered beds and headboards with diamond tufting and nailhead trim bring an updated, timeless appeal to your cozy and elegant space.
- Dressers and Chests: When you choose a traditional bedroom set, the collection often includes a coordinating dresser or chest to complement the bed. Typically, they feature sturdy hardwood paneling with decorative rose, crystal or vintage drawer pulls. Some may also have a large attached mirror and felt-lined top drawers for watches and jewelry.
- Nightstands: A set of traditional nightstands is another chic and practical option for your traditional bedroom. Features like dark wood finishes, antique drawer pulls and intricate carvings make these bedside tables the perfect complement to your other bedroom decor. Place these nightstands on either side of the bed to create a centered, symmetrical look.
- Accent Benches and Chairs: Traditional bedroom furniture often includes an upholstered bench at the foot of the bed or a classic accent chair in the corner of the room. Look for neutral fabrics that blend in with the color scheme. Or, try a seat with a traditional floral pattern for a stylish accent.
- Bedding: Layered, lush and lavish, traditional bedding sets include soft sheets along with patterned comforters, quilts and duvets. Decorative pillow shams and throw pillows often come with bed linen sets as well. Jewel-toned bedding with chinoiserie, floral, or damask patterns makes a subtle yet sophisticated statement in your bedroom.
Dining Rooms in the Traditional Style
When applying traditional decorating style to your dining room, the first step is to decide between formal or casual decor. If you want to create a formal dining space, you can choose ornate pieces like velvet side chairs, button-tufted seats and a claw foot table. A more casual dining room might feature accents like a floral table cloth and a round table with a pedestal base.
For a cohesive, uniform look in your traditional dining room, opt for a traditional dining room set with a coordinating table and set of chairs. Storage such as buffets, china cabinets and curios with decorative glass facades provide a place to display heirlooms like antique china sets, wine glasses and vases. You could also include a bar cart to serve appetizers and drinks in the den.
Just like other pieces in this style, traditional dining room furniture features cherry and walnut finishes with delicate carvings and patterned or upholstered seats. Long, rectangular, banquet-style tables are ideal for large family gatherings. Meanwhile, hanging a classic chandelier above the table brings warmth and a touch of sophisticated drama to the room.
Traditional Home Offices & Libraries
Sophisticated designs help traditional furniture styles blend seamlessly into study and home office spaces. Libraries and offices are the perfect settings for traditional interior design since the setup calls for efficiency and elegance. Place a large bookcase or fireplace against the center wall and set a spacious dark wood desk in front of it. Choose a leather desk chair or accent chair for classic study seating.
For task lighting, choose a table lamp with a soft shade and warm light. Pull chains and curved glass shades also give your library a timeless appearance. Traditional home offices commonly have dark wood paneling on the floor or walls, so a neutral off-white or beige area rug adds subtle warmth and softness to the room.
Where modern homes maintain their sleek, simple style by using fewer decorative items, a traditional design often features an abundance of refined and tasteful decor. By choosing the right amount of classic accents and placing them in the perfect, strategic places, you can avoid a cluttered look in your traditional space. Accentuate your traditional design with decorations like:
- Lighting: Many contemporary light fixtures have traditional pendant, chandelier or sconce designs, making them perfect for an updated yet nostalgic layout. Consider bronze sconces for decorative hall and entryway lighting. Top your tables with table lamps featuring stained-glass shades and choose brass or crystal chandeliers for your dining room or primary bedroom suite.
- Area Rugs: Featuring rich colors and intricate designs, area rugs add panache to your dining room set, bedroom and living room. Select rugs with Persian, Turkish and Oriental prints for added drama and warmth. Or, roll out runner rugs in the hallway to soften hardwood floors.
- Wall Art: Wall decor lends classic and historical elegance to your traditional design. Some common wall art options include landscape paintings, vintage-style portraits and posters of mythological scenes. Display large wall art above the living room mantle and in the center space above your bed. You can also create symmetry by lining your dining room walls with artistic pieces.
- Bookcases: Show off trinkets, book collections and family photographs on a traditional bookcase. Perfect for dens, living rooms and home offices, a dark wood bookcase with a few ornamental details lends an air of smart sophistication to the room.
- Mirrors: With frames featuring gothic, rococo and baroque detailing, traditional decorative mirrors are like works of art themselves. Use them to reflect light and make a room appear larger. You might place them above a console table, your living room sofa or in the entryway.
Whether you’re going for a look of timeless elegance or a feeling of charming nostalgia, traditional interior design is an excellent choice for your home. Decorate your rooms with traditional furniture and decor to create a beautiful balance between sumptuous luxury and casual familiarity.