When you hear the word ‘tradition,’ what thoughts come to your mind? Do you see tradition as a good thing? Does it make you feel comfortable and cozy? In a recent survey, more than half of the respondents said the word ‘tradition’ makes them feel warm and contented. People like tradition. They like the way they feel when they’re reminded of all of their family traditions and institutions. That’s why traditional design still, after so many years, tops the list of design faves. But what exactly is traditional design? Does traditional design differ depending on the home, just like traditions do? Or are there specific elements that go into traditional design? These are some of the interior design questions that can be answered not only by looking back into the history of traditional design, but by looking at its contemporary use as well.
Traditional design is about comfort, coziness, and calmness. While modern design, considered by many to be the antithesis of traditional design, is often characterized with sleek, clean, geometric lines, traditional design decor is softer, more sumptuous. Wild and unpredictable it is not, for traditional design is about time-honored security and contentment. The design and the furnishings in the traditional design elements match each other. Sofas and chairs match window treatments, rugs, and carpets, co-existing smoothly and fluidly.
Some folks, especially those who are fans of modern design elements, may think that traditional design elements are ostentatious or gaudy, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. The fact is that traditional design pieces tend to be casual and comfortable, but they’re not flashy. They may have more of an ornate nature to them than, say, those of the modern design elements, but traditional design is largely about beauty and elegance, even those furnishings and decor that are more casual. Traditional homes are familiar and stylish. They’re popular with all ages, from very young children to great, great grandparents. One of the main reasons for this is that traditional design is comfortable. It’s easy to live with, easy to own, and easy to sink into at the end of a hard day. While the furnishings, floors, and colors that go into modern design may be a little on the stark or uninviting side for some folks, the elements that go into traditional design are just the opposite. Traditional homes and rooms are comfortable, welcoming, and inviting for both family and guests.
The furnishings in traditional design are classic. They’re not fussy. They’re hallmarked by soft, rounded edges that are smooth. They blend together beautifully, with curves in accessories such as pillows as well as in main furnishings. The fabrics in traditional designs include soft florals, unencumbered stripes or geometrics, muted plaids, tone-on-tone, and patterns that aren’t too large or obvious. Upholstery is also very big in traditional design.
The colors used in traditional rooms can vary from lighter hues to deeper, richer hues. Many traditional designs include floral patterns that have several colors that are blended together. Bright or stark colors that are too exacting or too bold don’t belong in traditional design concepts. The ideas for colors, as with furnishings and other decor in the traditional design concepts, are soft, smooth, comfortable.
Traditional homes are often considered ‘homey,’ as they aren’t harsh or loud. They’re meant to be more on the understated side, whether casual or formal. Crown moldings are common in formal dining rooms, and dining rooms are often separate rooms from other areas of the home. Dark stains as well as wood carvings are plentiful in traditional furnishings. Additionally, wallpaper is often used in traditional designs. Ceilings are often white or soft white. Walls often include chair rails and other simple moldings, and these may have flat painted finishes or slightly glossy finishes.
Traditional design definitely has its specific design elements. Traditional design is about elegance; it’s about style; it’s about versatility. But that’s not all. A room that’s created with traditional design in mind is a room that feels luxurious and comfortable. It’s an ironic mix of the refined with the resplendent and the relaxed. And few interior design styles have remained as popular in interior design today as the furnishings and fixtures that go into traditional design.