11 Ways to Modernize a Traditional Home
Whether you’ve just moved into an Edwardian apartment in San Francisco or you’re trying to give your Colonial house in Connecticut a little more edge, there are countless ways to modernize a traditional home. Of course, you could go ahead and browse contemporary shops to see what catches your eye, but if you need a little more direction, we have 11 easy tricks for you below.
There are few things we love more than contemporary art juxtaposed with the thoughtful architectural detail of a traditional home. Seek out artwork with colors that complement your existing furnishings, and you’ve got a foolproof combination.
Historically, books have always been arranged vertically in libraries, so by stacking them horizontally you can easily give any room an updated look. To get super modern, create multiple stacks of books with several inches of space in between them. For a more transitional aesthetic, try a mix of vertically and horizontally arranged books.
One of the simplest ways to freshen up any home is to integrate bright colors. A rich canary yellow will feel decidedly modern, while a bright yet soft mint green can create a youthful yet still traditional look. Choose your own adventure.
Be it a Lucite coffee table, a glass bar cart, or an acrylic chandelier, a bit of transparency always lightens up the heaviness of dark woods and upholstered furniture you often see in traditional homes. Luckily, you don’t have to worry about matching as clear items blend right in! Add one piece for an instant contemporary touch.
Fussy and intricate patterns can quickly take on a granny vibe, so if you want to modernize your space, sticking with solids is a safe way to do so. Use texture, mixed metals and finishes, and shapely furniture to add interest and keep the pattern to a minimum.
European, American, and Chinese furniture is common in traditional homes, so to infuse a little variety into the mix, seek out décor from Africa, South America, Southeast Asia, or wherever life takes you.
Blue and white delftware is a staple of traditional decorating, but when layered so repeatedly such as in this space designed by Mark D. Sikes, it feels decidedly bold. Is there another classic pattern or material you love? Lay it on thick for a twist on tradition.
We expect to see a console table and a mirror below a cascade of turned-wood balusters in an entryway, but a sling chair and a fuzzy Moroccan area rug? Not so much. Or how about a sexy portrait against a wallpaper of pastel florals? One wouldn’t dare. Play around with unusual arrangements and surprising juxtapositions until you create something that makes you say, “Wow!”
Floating a daybed in the middle of a very petite room isn’t something one would naturally think of—unless you’re an interior designer—but it works and it’s remarkably cozy. When it comes to your furniture layout, listen to your instinct (i.e. a sofa and coffee table)… and then totally disregard it. You may love what unfolds.
One of the easiest ways to create a statement is to play with scale. A traditional designer would install pendants a third of the side of these upside-down monsters, but their size is what makes this space memorable. Go big or go home.
What else would you add to this list? Tell us in the comments below.