DESIGN LINE: 10 Ways to Modernize Traditional Decor
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Re-imagine your existing furniture
This is so amazingly simple and yet so dramatic a change! A skirt on a sofa or chair is a very traditional detail. Remove the skirt and add some simple tapered and stained wooden legs. Then, choose a large-scale print or more modern fabric, reupholster the piece, and voila. You will be shocked. If you’re looking to do this without a designer, call the gals at www.kreatelier.com for help.
Create high contrast
No matter what pattern, the juxtaposition between black and white feels modern. Many traditional homes have lots of white (white cabinets, white marble, etc). Try painting the base of the island black (even high gloss), adding black barstools, etc. If you’re really looking for some pop, add some red accessories to the mix and you’ve completely changed the design.
Add a bold rug
By bold, I mean something with a large-scale pattern and high contrast. For instance, a taupe base with a large (like 12-18”) dark chocolate diamond pattern. You can find great inexpensive short-term rugs on the web at www.westelm.com and higher quality, long-term rugs locally at www.rustigianrugs.com.
Mix things up
There is nothing wrong with mixing styles. I’m not suggesting every style works together, but if you have an antique dining room set, for instance, keep the beautiful mahogany table and sell the wooden chairs. Buy some sleek upholstered chairs from www.comina.com and you’ll be shocked at the difference.
Homes are for living. Formality makes most people feel like they can’t touch or sit, which breeds anxiety. If you own grandma’s Victorian loveseat, it’s fine to put it in the living room, but make sure it’s upholstered in some fun fabric and maybe even throw a shag rug underneath (the chasen at www.crateandbarrel.com would be an inexpensive choice).
The key to modern is balance over symmetry. Details and accessories, like table lamps, will be more successful if they don’t match. In the large scheme of things, this applies to the ratio between styles as well. Adding a little bit of one style to a lot of another makes more sense than dishing it out 50/50.
Pare things down
I often tell my clients that “modern” does not have to be white walls, floors and furnishings and a stark environment. However, modern is clean and clean is pared down. Delete the clutter and choose the accessories, whatever style, carefully.
Update the framing
I would say buy a bunch of modern art, but that may blow your budget. You can, however, simply change the way pieces are framed. Choose clean-lined frames in wood (stained or painted) and recycle the gilded molded frames into a mirror for another time.
Buy new lighting
Light fixtures have enormous power over the look and feel of an interior space. This is one of those all-or-nothing ideas. If you’re going to modernize the decorative lighting, do it all. One chandelier is not going to make a huge difference.
Paint the walls black
If you have a light rug and bright furniture, why not paint the walls black, leaving the trim white. Again, there is a lot to be said for high contrast.
Kelly Taylor has 15 plus years of experience in the field of interior design. She is the 2012 recipient of New England Home magazine’s “5 Under 40” award for excellence in design as well as Rhode Island Monthly magazine’s 2012 Gold Award for residential interior design. She practices residential and commercial interior design in Providence, Rhode Island. Find her on twitter at @ktidnet, visit her website at www.ktid.net or check her out on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/KellyTaylorInteriorDesign.
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