10 Traditional Home Design Ideas

Nov 17, 2017

While there are many modern and trendy home designs in use today, traditional is still the most popular home décor style. The best traditional homes are gracious, inviting, warm, and recalls a bygone era of understated elegance. For many, it reminds them of the comfort they felt in their own childhood homes. It’s no wonder traditional home styles have stood the test of time in America. Let’s learn more about these classic homes. 


What Is Traditional Home Design?

Traditional home design embodies a warm, welcoming style that reflects classic elements and features from a variety of historical periods and regions. This style often includes detailed moldings, decorative trims, elegant furnishings, a mix of antique and reproduction furniture and accessories, and a balanced, symmetrical layout that evokes a sense of familiarity and comfort.

Traditional home décor incorporates rich wood tones, plush fabrics, and a muted, often earthy color palette to create a cozy and inviting atmosphere. Traditional home design isn't about rigidly adhering to a specific period. It’s about thoughtful attention to detail, which means you’re free to incorporate many different types of ideas into a traditional-style home. It’s all about creating a space where memories are made and cherished.


An elegant room with an understated design


Traditional Design Idea #1: Classic Elegance

Traditional homes usually bring to mind classic elegance. To achieve this effect, strive for gentle curves on your furnishings. Look for chairs and sofas with rolled arms and subtle curves at their backs. Utilizing curves in this way ties the room together beautifully. This is referred to as soft decorating.

For window treatments, Roman shades work well, or try a tailored look. The formal swag-and-panel combo looks very good. Panels are gathered together loosely by tasseled cords. Add in a nice design detail to the scalloped edges with a bit of fringe.

Colors should be balanced and muted, like green and peach tones with aubergine and tan. Bronze accents and warm wood enhance these colors and create a comforting, inviting atmosphere. You can use prints, but don’t go crazy – think small print pillows or shimmery printed damask curtains to add visual interest. 


Balance the palette in your use of color


Traditional Design Idea #2: Contemporary Flair

Blending modern elements with traditional home décor gives the room an updated style. 

Contemporary art makes for an interesting and often fitting juxtaposition with traditional design and architecture. Look for minimalist modern sculptures or paintings with bold frames and colors that complement the design and furnishings of your room.

Books are both contemporary and timeless. Give them a modern refresh by stacking them horizontally, using a combination of horizontal and vertical, or placing them in multiple stacks with a few inches between each. Using modern bookends and coffee table books with vibrant covers can also add a subtle contemporary touch to a traditional home.


Keep prints simple so you don't drown out the elegance


Traditional Design Idea #3: Bright Colors

Bright colors are one of the easiest ways to create a modern traditional home. Consider adding vibrant throw pillows, rugs, or decorative vases in bold hues like royal blue, emerald green, or mustard yellow. These pops of color can enliven a neutral palette typical of traditional homes and highlight features such as fireplaces, artwork, or beautiful wood furniture. Choose colors that complement the room’s overall tone to maintain a cohesive look.

Colors work well on window frames, trim, and treatments, as well. Choose a frame color that contrasts with your exterior paint for a pop of modernity. On the interior, incorporate bright colors on in-window shades or window trim to bring it all together. Vinyl finishes in particular lend themselves to unique colors. 


Using contemporary art with traditional décor


Traditional Design Idea #4: Switch It Up

To keep traditional home décor interesting, vary the textures, fabrics, finishes, and hardware you use. To keep a traditional room interesting, experiment with different upholstery and curtain textures. Mix smooth, plush fabrics like velvet with rougher materials such as tweed or burlap. Use the shape of your furniture, as well, to keep the solid colors interesting.

Incorporate a variety of materials such as metal accents in light fixtures, wooden beams or furniture, and tiled fireplaces or backsplashes. Unique hardware options on your doors and windows are also an easy way to add depth. This variety not only adds visual interest but also helps to create a more dynamic and inviting environment.


Soft colors create a young and traditional feeling

Traditional Design Idea #5: Exotic Furnishings

While the most common furniture you see in traditional home design is European, American, and Chinese, more exotic furnishings can work well. Look for pieces from places like Africa, South America, or Southeast Asia, or even artsier and more exotic pieces.

Consider African masks, patterned textiles, and handmade pottery to bring a global influence that is both intriguing and stylish. South American elements might include brightly colored fabrics, woven tapestries, and rustic wooden artifacts. These pieces should be displayed as highlights within a room and can serve as conversation starters.

Solid colors and furnishings keep the room grounded

Traditional Design Idea #6: Layers

In home design, layers refer to pillows, rugs, lamps, window treatments, furniture, and wall décor. Layers can make a space bolder while retaining traditional elegance. Start with a base of classic furniture pieces and add contrasting modern accents. For instance, layer throw pillows in contemporary patterns and textures on a classic sofa. 

Mix rugs with different patterns and materials, such as a traditional Persian rug underneath a geometric print. Use sleek, modern lamps alongside classic chandeliers to provide a blend of lighting styles. Window design ideas might combine functional shades with opulent drapes. Wall décor can mix traditional paintings with modern abstract pieces, arranged in an eclectic gallery wall style.

Decorative layers mix up traditional elegance

Traditional Design Idea #7: Offbeat Elements

Traditional home décor doesn’t have to be stuffy and predictable. Throw in offbeat elements, like slings chairs or exotic area rugs, to add some interesting flair. Sling chairs can provide a relaxed, modern silhouette against more formal, structured traditional furniture, offering both visual and functional appeal. Exotic area rugs with bold patterns or colors can act as art pieces for the floor, setting a vibrant tone that contrasts pleasantly against neutral, classic backgrounds.

Specialty window styles, like arched windows, radius windows, and bay windows, are another way to add visual interest to a traditional layout. Complement them with custom window treatments like curved blinds or curtains to complete the look. 


Traditional Design Idea #8: Unique Layouts

Experimenting with unusual furniture choices can dramatically alter the room's appeal. A floating daybed in the middle of a small room is unexpected yet cozy. Think along traditional lines for your layout, then discard them to try something new and different. Experiment with your furniture styles and you might find one that strikes a perfect chord.

You can also arrange furniture in unconventional ways – rather than sticking to walls, consider angling pieces inwards around a central coffee table or under a statement light fixture. This not only adds interest but also enhances the flow of conversation and interaction within the space.


Traditional Design Idea #9: Experiment with Scale

Playing with the scale of furniture and décor can create a dynamic environment that draws the eye and adds sophistication. In a room with high ceilings, opt for tall bookcases or an oversized mirror to accentuate the height. In a smaller room, large artwork, a central oversized light fixture, or floor-to-ceiling windows can make the space feel grander and more designed. 

Furniture and window scale make a difference

Be sure to mix large statement pieces with smaller, intricate items to keep the balance and prevent any one scale from dominating. Done right, unique scale makes a traditional home truly memorable. Try different ideas to see what works for your home. 


Traditional Design Idea #10: Open and Clear Decor

Transparent and open surfaces can make traditional-style homes feel lighter and more modern. Displaying fine china, books, or curated artifacts on open shelving can add personality and charm without the bulkiness of closed cabinetry. It’s an easy way to add your own personal touch and give the room a gallery charm without changing the original architecture. 

For transparent surfaces, try glass-top coffee tables, a crystal chandelier, or a glass bar cart. Large, clear windows, like picture windows or casement windows, are another great way to create a modern traditional home. They not only bring in more natural light but also help merge indoor and outdoor environments. 


Which Traditional Home Design Ideas Will You Try?

Traditional family homes have a sense of timelessness and tradition. Updating them doesn’t mean undoing that. A touch here or there can make a room feel fresh yet classical, all while avoiding flash and fussiness. Use one or many of these techniques for a creative blend of old and new, providing a refreshed look that respects traditional foundations while embracing modern flair and global influences. 

If you’re ready to replace your worn-out windows with modern options that will refresh your traditional home design and improve energy-efficiency, look no further than MILGARD. Connect with a Certified Dealer to find the perfect windows and patio doors to bring a fresh perspective to your traditional home. 


Open shelves show off special items


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