How To Decorate a Home in the Traditional Style

  • An elegant foyer with a brass chandelier, grandfather clock in the corner, and grand staircase.
Allow us to set the scene. It’s Christmas and snow is gently falling outside of a white colonial. A man with silver hair opens the door to welcome his guests. Inside, the fire casts a warm glow on the floral sofa, swag curtains, brass lamps and polished end tables. As the grandfather clock chimes, someone sits down to play the piano.

That’s the traditional look in a nutshell—and it can be amazing.

What’s that? You don’t like traditional because your Aunt Karen’s house is traditional and it looks fussy and old?

The reality is there are good examples and bad examples of every style of décor.

Traditional, when done right, is as elegant as it gets.

What Is Traditional Style?

The hallmark of traditional design is that it is comforting and inviting. The backdrop for that look consists of rich colors such as ruby, sapphire, and citrine—all of which look beautiful with dark, polished woods.

Another option in traditional décor is to choose neutrals such as cream, tan, or light gray. This backdrop works especially well if you have an art collection—or even antiques—that you want to let shine.

In contemporary design, windows can be dressed any way you want—or not at all. In traditional design, you’ll want to veer toward more tailored window treatments.

There is room for pattern in traditional décor. Consider florals, gentle plaids, stripes, or small patterns that mix well with bolder prints. Fabrics shouldn’t have too much texture; this is not the time for chenille or—gasp—cowhide.

Think of the room as being balanced and orderly. There is nothing out of place, nothing unpredictable. The overall effect is classic and soothing.

Traditional on a Budget

This is where things get a little tricky. It’s easy to do Scandinavian décor on the cheap (hello Ikea). But traditional style is like a cashmere sweater. You pay for good quality and keep it for a long time. A dresser that comes in a flat box has no place in your design.

With that said, there are a few tricks for getting high quality pieces for less. Because so many people are leaning toward contemporary design, you may find that your local antique store—or even Craigslist—has some great pieces at more-than reasonable prices.

Window treatments are another good place to save money. Custom will cost you hundreds—if not thousands—of dollars per window. Consider buying ready-made curtains from places like Pottery Barn, Wayfair, JCPenney, or Ballard Designs.

Keep it Fuss-Free

Traditional style has a lot more to it than, say, a modern look. But you have to know where to draw the line—or you do, in fact, run the risk of your house looking like your Aunt Karen’s.

Yes, you may have candlesticks, picture frames, art, and even a clock in your living room—all of that is good. What you can’t have is clutter, which means knick knacks, stacks of books, end tables piled with papers, and out-of-control toys.

If you can’t seem to get control of your clutter, it may be time to consider selling or giving some items away. If you still can’t get control of your clutter, you might want to look into renting a self storage unit.

At StorageMart, we offer affordable self storage units that can be rented on a month-by-month basis. Just like home, they’re always clean and well lit. Not sure what size you’d need? Check out our storage unit guide.

Lastly, there’s no long-term commitment. You could rent a unit online today and cancel it if you feel the extra space is no longer needed.

The bottom line is that you want your home to be classic, not cluttered—and self storage may be the missing puzzle piece you need to get there.

About Sarah Little

Sarah Little, Marketing Director at StorageMart, holds a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration. She serves as Vice President on the Board of Directors for the Central Missouri Foster Care & Adoption Association, a non-profit group dedicated to improving the lives of children.

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