Modern and traditional style often seem to be in opposition to each other, but can they work together to create something more sophisticated, dynamic and timeless than any one style on its own? If so, how can it be done well? Despite no concrete rules, there are ideas that have worked well in terms of interior design. We have collected our five top tips to guide you in blending your favourite styles to create the home of your dreams, whether you’re a design enthusiast or one of the best architects in Sydney.


Choose a ‘main’ style and an ‘accent’ style

Blending Traditional and Contemporary Style


While the obvious solution may seem to be merging two styles half and half, instead of balance the end result is often confusion. You are aiming to end up with one of two options: traditional with hints of modern or contemporary with traditional accents. Every room needs direction, so begin by choosing traditional or modern as your predominant style.

David Mason, project director at international design hub Scott Brownrigg, says, “When you have two different styles in one place it’s important to separate any contrasting elements with enough space . . . This allows them to hold their own prominence in the room rather than clamouring for space.”[3] Other prominent interior designers like Laurel Bern agree that overcrowding a room or using oversized furniture is one of the quickest ways to extinguish its elegance.


Find the why, make the plan

Blending Traditional and Contemporary Style


We all like different styles, but when decorating it is important to understand why. By creating a Pinterest board or gathering images from magazines and online, you will see trends emerge – the trends of what you love about a particular style. Another way to find your ‘why’ is to describe a piece of furniture you love to someone and see what you emphasise most. Once you are aware of the design elements you most respond to, you can keep an eye out for them whilst shopping.

When planning a room, let the structural architecture guide you as to which style should dominate. Draw a floor plan and map your furniture placement to prevent your space from looking crowded or random. Whether you’ve got a five bedroom house in Paris or a modern flat in Sydney, correct spacing is crucial. There’s nothing wrong with having more pieces of furniture instead of trying to style oversized furniture that can often look tacky.


Find an anchor and build around it

Blending Traditional and Contemporary Style


Eclectic works; messy doesn’t.[6] Avoid combining too many styles or time periods in the one room. Assess the space and ask yourself, ‘What is the anchor of this room?’ It may be an exquisite fireplace or a statement antique chair, but once you have your centrepiece, the rest of your decor decisions will follow.

Joseph Ferrugio, CEO and principal designer of Ferrugio Design, says, “Consider the details. Accessories are the jewellery of the space. They are an opportunity to reflect who lives in the home and what is the soul of the concept or project.”[7]


Maintain cohesion through similar design elements

Blending Traditional and Contemporary Style


While you’re blending elements from different time periods and textures, tie things together by having your colours, scale/proportion and level of formality work together.[9] A modern-sized monster couch is going to dwarf a delicately crafted 18th century klismos chair and a formal chaise lounge will look odd beside an indoor hammock. If these elements harmonise well, the stylistic diversity will be less obvious.

When it comes to colours, varying hues of one colour will bring harmony, while contrasting colours generate energy and excitement, but you risk clashes. Architect John Craig says, “Color is always a great unifier. Limiting the palette and using different values of the same colour fosters cohesion,” which is why opting for variations of the same colour palette is usually safest.

However, interior designer Caleb Anderson recommends making one unexpected choice in your colour palette. Choosing heritage paint colours can be a good bridge to tie different styles or time periods together. Don’t be afraid to use colour, but every room should also have some black to bring crisp definition.


Traditional vs. contemporary: where to draw the line?

Blending Traditional and Contemporary Style


It can be difficult knowing which pieces should be more classical and which more modern – and whether it matters. We all love the look of a chic vintage chaise or round bathtub, but how practical is it? Jason Tilton of Fine Magazine says, “If you’re wondering where the split between the two styles should be, make the decorative

areas more traditional, and the more functional sections modern to get more out of the room when it’s complete.”[11]

The best bit about this kind of transitional styling is that it doesn’t have to be done all at once. You can add antiques as you happen upon them and slowly build a room full of things that you truly love instead of furniture and decor you bought in a hurry. Use the hints we’ve provided you with today to create a room that is both personal and timeless.


[1] https://laurelberninteriors.com/2017/06/04/mixing-modern-and-traditional-furniture/
[2] https://www.houzz.in/photo/33006217-coit-house-preserved-federal-style-meets-contemporary-transitional-living-room-new-york
[3] https://www.mansionglobal.com/articles/blending-decor-styles-to-look-eclectic-rather-than-messy-73444
[4] https://freshome.com/2014/07/24/how-to-create-modern-victorian-interiors/
[5] https://www.houseandgarden.co.uk/gallery/mixing-traditional-and-modern
[6] https://www.mansionglobal.com/articles/blending-decor-styles-to-look-eclectic-rather-than-messy-73444
[7] https://www.mansionglobal.com/articles/blending-decor-styles-to-look-eclectic-rather-than-messy-73444
[8] https://www.southernliving.com/home-garden/decorating/living-room-decorating-ideas-0
[9] https://laurelberninteriors.com/2017/06/04/mixing-modern-and-traditional-furniture/
[10] https://laurelberninteriors.com/2017/06/04/mixing-modern-and-traditional-furniture/
[11] http://www.finehomesandliving.com/5-Tips-for-Mixing-Traditional-and-Modern-Dcor-Styles/