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Mixing Home Design Styles: Modern & Traditional

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Mixing Home Design Styles: Modern & Traditional
4 min. read
Mixing Home Design Styles Modern Traditional 1

Image: Pai9 / Shutterstock.com

Mixing design styles allows you to fill your home with more of the things you love. It also helps keep your decor interesting and unpredictable.

We’ve looked at mixing Bohemian and Scandinavian styles, and how to combine rustic and traditional styles. But this week may be our most unlikely pairing! While you might think modern and traditional interior design don’t go together, the two styles can actually complement each other beautifully – if done right.

Including some traditional elements in a modern home can add warmth and sophistication. And, a few modern touches can help keep a traditional space from feeling too stuffy. However, getting the right mix when working with two very different styles can be tricky. To pull off the modern and traditional combination like a pro, follow these guidelines.

Decide who’s the Boss

When combining different design styles, the 80/20 rule will help you strike the right balance. This means that you should choose one style to be the dominant style to fill 80% of your space. Then, use the other, complementary style to fill the remaining 20% of the room.

Because modern and traditional styles are so different, combining them equally will result in a room full of things competing for attention. If you have a mostly traditional living room, try mixing things up with a modern coffee table and area rug. Or, put a four-poster bed in an otherwise modern bedroom to add unique character.

Go Slowly

If you’re combining two styles as different as modern and traditional, don’t try to transform your whole home at once. Instead, start with one room and test out the changes to make sure you’re happy with them before moving on.

Also, take some time to plan how you want the room to look and function. Look at what you have and note which style dominates most of the pieces. Remove anything that doesn’t fit with either style and then make a wish list of what you’d like to add. Also, be sure to keep your list with you so you don’t end up purchasing something that doesn’t fit with the design.

Mixing Home Design Styles Modern Traditional 2

Image: Beyond Time / Shutterstock.com

Set the Tone with a Stand-Out Piece

Every room needs a great focal point to draw attention and help ground the space – especially when you’re combining different styles and you don’t want that to be the first thing people notice.

If possible, find a statement piece that helps blur the lines between the two styles. Or, when all else fails, you can always DIY one. For example, have a pair of classic Berger chairs reupholstered with a modern fabric. Or, swap out shades on vintage lamps with modern drum shades. You can also reframe a piece of vintage artwork with a modern frame.

Create Unity

When working with two vastly different styles, it’s important to establish a connection between the different elements. To tie a room together and create unity, choose furnishings with common features. You don’t want to be overly matchy, but a similar leg style, wood tone or pattern will create a cohesive feeling.

Working within an established color palette will also help create unity among different styles. Choose a dominant element in the room – such as an area rug or a large piece of artwork – and use it to guide your color choices. Then, ensure everything you add to the room features one of these colors to make each item look intentional.

Add Finishing Touches

Art and lighting are great ways to introduce elements of a new style to a space. While they’re not overly dominant, they do offer endless opportunities to infuse style in any room. For instance, an antique lamp on a modern desk can make a striking pair. Or, try hanging an elegant chandelier in a modern dining room to create a bit of drama.

A modern painting over a vintage sideboard can help merge the two styles, but antique artwork isn’t always the answer for a modern space. Instead, look for decorative items – like vintage clocks, lanterns, and bowls – to accent a modern room.

These guidelines will help you find just the right mix of modern and traditional. But, if you’re in doubt, take it out. It’s always better to leave something out than to have a piece that looks out of place.

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