Manage Your Living Room Layout 25

Hoping to craft a living room you’ll love now, years from now, and maybe even decades from now? Take a few cues from traditional design. The classic design style is defined by its restrained palette, love of antiques, and commitment to symmetry. And since those elements work in just about any interior, it’s little wonder traditional design has stood the test of time. 

“Traditional design should incorporate elements that you’ve seen for generations in home design,” Alessandra Wood, design historian and Vice President of Style at Modsy, says. Think: classic furniture silhouettes, simple patterns, balanced layouts, and museum-worthy art.

“A traditional interior looks like it could’ve been designed 50 years ago or 10 years ago,” Wood adds. “It’s timeless in one sense, but also rooted in traditional forms.”

Since traditional design is so classic and enduring, it’s a style worth getting acquainted with, and once you’ve mastered it, you’ll be crafting spaces that almost never need redecorating. To help you score some classic style in your living room, we’ve rounded up 30 living rooms that have made the most of traditional style—and we’ve cited a traditional living room design idea worth stealing from each of them.Limit the Colors in Your Palette

Color is welcome in traditional design, but the key is to keep your colors consistent. So commit to a few core shades, and stick to your neatly defined palette. 

If you’re not sure which colors to choose, look to your printed pieces for inspiration. “Traditionally coordinating colors are often pulled out of the fabrics utilized,” Miriam Silver Verga, principal designer at Mimi & Hill, says. If one of your statement-makers is made up of three different shades, build your entire palette around that trio of colors.Stick to a Symmetrical Layout

There are many ways to organize your living room, but if you want your space to feel traditional, keep your layout balanced and symmetrical. “Symmetry and balance are key in terms of layout,” Silver Verga says.

Stick a couch on either side of your coffee table, or arrange your chairs in symmetrical pairs.Line Your Walls With Classic Wood Accents

Paint isn’t the only way to transform your walls. If you want your space to feel more traditional, unearth some of its built-in architectural elements. Sand down your trim until you can tell it’s made from wood, and stain your wooden doors instead of painting them.

If your home has no built-in elements to unearth, add a few traditional details that suit your home’s architectural style.Ground Your Space With an Area Rug

Rugs make a classic addition to any space, so it should come as no surprise that they look great in traditional living rooms. “Rugs are an important element of traditional design,” Silver Verga says.

And don’t pick a rug that’s too small, either. “Go big,” Silver Verga adds. “Rugs should be large and even layered.”Set the Mood With Layered Lighting

No space is complete without thoughtful lighting, and if you layer different fixtures, you can flexibly adjust your living room’s lighting set-up throughout the day.

“Levels of lighting are important for creating ambiance, with sconces and lamps being important elements,” Silver Verga says. Pair a bold chandelier with a few striking table lamps. And layer in other forms of lighting, like wall sconces and art-mounted picture lights.Keep Your Patterns Tight and Simple

Classic patterns—like stripes and florals—abound in traditional design, and they can be a fun way to add interest to your living room.

“I’d incorporate a few traditional patterns in accents, such as a flame stitch pillow,” Wood says.

Just be sure to keep your patterned pieces simple, neat, and time-honored. “The patterns should be tighter and not painterly,” Silver Verga says. Trade abstract florals for realistic ones, and favor simple prints wherever you can.Stock Up on Antique Furniture

One easy way to keep your furniture traditional? Stock up on genuine antiques.

“I love incorporating antiques—especially tables, desks, or storage pieces,” Wood says. “It’s nearly impossible to find wood with the same patina and quality in new furniture today, so these pieces are really special in any space.”Have Fun With Your Upholstery

Too often, we treat the word “traditional” like it’s synonymous with “boring” or “staid.” But traditional upholstery is actually packed with delightful details.

“Seamstress tailoring will be evident throughout, with pleats, skirts, ruffles, and handiwork,” Silver Verga says. That’s right—maximalist details, like ruffles and fringe, line traditional couches and armchairs. So you can have fun while maintaining your timeless traditional aesthetic.Favor Classic Silhouettes

When stocking up on furniture, look to history for inspiration and favor classic furniture silhouettes wherever you can.

Silver Verga notes that in traditional design, “furniture silhouettes are based on historical styles.” So keep an eye out for furniture you’d think of as classic—like chesterfield sofas, upholstered armchairs, and solid wood armoires.Make the Most of Ornate Trim

Remember that interior design isn’t just about adding to your space. It’s also about making the most of what you have. So if your home is already pretty traditional, look for ways to draw attention to its classic architectural elements. Could you brighten up your trim with a fresh coat of paint, or dust off your old marble fireplace?



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