Mix the traditional with a contemporary decor
The coolest style in decorating these days is to … mix styles.
Traditional and contemporary often go hand in hand. Think abstract art with an upholstered chair or eighteenth-century canvas wallpaper with an 80s lamp. The appeal is in the pleasant tension between styles; sophisticated, artistic, yet livable.
The latest flashback trend comes, as usual, from pop culture. Frenzy-worthy TV series like “Outlander” and “Bridgerton” have inspired Pinterest boards filled with tartan pillows, William Morris designs, deer antler lighting, copper tubs, silver chandeliers and meridians. Wave a feathered fan at “Regencycore”.
What “Mad Men” did for mid-century modernity, these recent period series did for the early 19th-century aesthetic, characterized by items such as upholstered sofas, oversized mirrors, chandeliers, gold accents and colorful floral or oriental prints.
This room was designed by Mendelson Group with art curation by Cynthia Byrnes Contemporary Art. (Eric Piasecki / Mendelson Group via AP)
Modern elements temper the hustle and bustle of ruffles and fur stockings while showcasing their features and allowing you to create personal spaces that aren’t stuck in one style.
“It’s always a balancing act to find the right amount of each character to include in a piece,” says Cynthia Byrnes, founder of a New York-based online art gallery and curator. . “Some would not recommend placing a heavy French Baroque console under contemporary photography.
“But if the scale, the colors and the architecture complement each other, then anything is possible.”
Century 1707 chandelier by Schonbek in moonstone (Schonbek via AP)
KEEP WHAT’S FRESH
Designers are not keen to shave off every “old” feature of a project. Rather than stripping the rooms of the studs, they often keep the original architectural details and then add modern elements and furnishings.
Claire Paquin of Clean Design Partners in Scarsdale, NY brought touches of berry, salmon and ebony up to date in a freshly laundered Tudor living room via curvy modern seating, cushions and artwork, but retained the graceful bay windows in pearl glass.
In Brooklin, Maine, John Ike of New York-based design firm Ike Kligerman Barkley purchased the former Order of Odd Fellows building, modernizing the 1895 structure while retaining many exterior and interior features. The third floor living space has the original painted ceilings, crown moldings, and deeply recessed windows, but Ike filled it with contemporary Italian furniture, a tube lighting sculpture by Kartell, and reproductions of Ico Prisi signs found at a street market. Modern elements serve to enhance historical elements rather than diminish them.
Native Trails Aurora 72 Bathtub in Antique Copper (Native Trails via AP)
If you’re tackling your own remodel and want to introduce a period element, consider adding damask pattern tiles to a feature backsplash or wall; Artaic’s Dramati glass mosaic is worth a visit. Native Trails has a hand-hammered copper tub, which Daphne Bridgerton surely would have appreciated.
Chandeliers have their own moment as part of this trend; look for traditional clear glass or go for an all-black version of the Hamilton chandelier by Schonbek or multi-colored from House of Hampton.
In his showroom in West Palm Beach, Florida, designer Jim Dove placed L’Eden de Gournay wallpaper, featuring an enchanting forest scene, behind a protective sheet of glass. L’Atelier Paris’ range of kitchens adds another refined element of a French country house; bespoke white cabinets, a sleek white worktop, and luxe upholstered chairs give it a modern feel.
For her room at Kip’s Bay Show House 2019, designer Young Huh paired a plush 18th-century taste bench with a heavy Italian marble dining table and antique wingback chair. However, the walls brought everything back to the present, with several pieces from Cynthia Byrnes’ gallery and the large-scale Cubist-inspired Braque wallpaper by Fromental. The finished piece is sophisticated and playful.
The Dramati Turquoise d’Artaic from the Ornamental & Damask collection was created with exclusive robotic technology and Tylist software. (Artaique via AP)
Byrnes says there is a trick to getting this look right.
“When mixing contemporary art with period furniture, it’s important to take into account the scale and character of each room,” Byrnes explains. “There are certain periods and styles of antique furniture that easily blend in with contemporary artwork. Like the clean lines, marble and airy gilding of Swedish neoclassical rooms. Classic Chinese Ming-style huanghuali furniture; and, here in the space of Young’s exhibition house, the sophisticated grandeur of 18th-century French shepherdesses. “
Brittney Herrera, interior designer and founder of the online store Wildwood House in Portland, Ore., Suggests, “Pairing a modern table lamp in a moody hue with a traditional rug in the same tone will create a cleverly organized look.” and full of style. Furnishing a room with traditional artwork, a contemporary take on a 17th-century caned chair or an avant-garde dining table adds not only interest, but also depth. “
This room was designed by Young Huh Interiors with art curation by Cynthia Byrnes Contemporary Art. (Ngoc Minh Ngo via AP)
Front and back yards can also benefit from a mix of styles, says Fernando Wong, a Miami-based landscaper.
“I always try to mix the contemporary with the traditional,” he says, citing a project where he used “a set of vintage rattan furniture from Bonacina, one of Italy’s oldest furniture makers, purchased auctioned off from Brooke Astor’s estate, and paired it with a gorgeous new McKinnon & Harris beverage cart. Add in some majestic French Anduze urns from a garden antique store like Authentic Provence, and you are on to something pretty awesome. “
Kim Cook writes frequently for The AP on topics related to design, decor and lifestyle. She can be found on Instagram at kimcookhome and attached to kimcookhome.com.