Styles Guide: Mixing contemporary & traditional

This photo from Hungerford Interior Design is the perfect example of what to do when mixing contemporary and traditional styles of decor.

The Entryway

A Contemporary stairwell is mixed with the Traditional herringbone patterned floor.

The open stairwell with it’s striped carpet adds a wonderful pop of color to the home which takes nothing away from the surrounding decor.

The glass panels, sleek, brushed metal hand rail and lack of architectural detail, indicates a contemporary stairwell design. The landing, in a traditional herringbone design (my favorite), surrounding artwork, chandelier and furniture are all very traditional. However, the overall blend of contemporary and traditional elements is beautiful and more importantly – cohesive.

This is because the right elements have been placed in the right places.

The bright carpet would have the opposite effect if placed on traditional stair risers with traditional architectural features. The look would not be cohesive at all. It would be one of those “Wow! What were they thinking” moments, which we all want to avoid.

Return to the cover photo and you will also see a lucite legged pouffe under a traditional painting. The cushion of the pouffe is quite traditional but the legs are very contemporary. The blend of the two styles complements the decor and the color reiterates the striped stairway carpet.

The Dining Room

 There are many ways of combining furniture styles in the dining room but my favorite is to combine an antique dining table with contemporary chairs. The photo below highlights this perfectly.

Image result for traditional table with contemporary chairs

Another example is with a heavier, traditional table as shown below.

Image result for traditional table with contemporary chairs

The reverse however, rarely works. Traditional chairs with contemporary tables tends to be clunky (if you’ll pardon the lack of a better word). In my own home, I once combined traditional chairs with a contemporary table. The table was glass and I recovered the chairs in a leopard motif so it worked, but I don’t recommend doing it.

The Living room

The same goes for couches and coffee tables. You can have a contemporary coffee table combined with a traditional couch but the reverse is usually pretty awful. Traditional coffee tables will be much too ornate or detailed for the sleekness of the contemporary couch or sectional. However, the sleekness of the contemporary coffee table will highlight the comfort and warmth of the traditional sofa.

Image result for traditional couch with contemporary coffee table

This photo is a really good blend of contemporary and traditional furniture. It has just the right amount of both. Balance is key.

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