Combining Period Designs
Interior designer Rosemary Sadez Friedmann offers advice on how best to combine period designs.
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Tradition means different things to different people, but for most it includes something from the past that we grew up with or learned to appreciate as we grew into adulthood. Interiors done in traditional style, therefore, can be very comforting, giving us a feeling of connection with the past, be it ours, our parents or a shared history.
There are basically two types of traditional styles: formal and casual.
The formal, or elegant, style is the first one that usually comes to mind when we talk about traditional design. It comes from imitating style. Italian, French or English Renaissance, Baroque, Queen Anne, Chippendale, Rococo, Neoclassic, Empire and Victorian are among the more popular.
To follow one of these styles completely, you would combine architectural detail, furnishings, rugs, wallpaper, draperies and even accessories of that one period. But that would be the purist way of decorating that most likely would cause your home to look like a museum. It would be better to combine styles in a comfortable blend of periods that complement each other.
So what are the best combinations of period design? Read on.
Queen Anne and Chippendale work very well together. Neoclassic and Empire make a good combination. Victorian with English Renaissance is homey and elegant at the same time. French Renaissance combined with Rococo blend into a rich look.
For the architectural detail, moldings and raised paneling are a must. Hardwood floors topped with Oriental rugs set the stage for traditional furnishings. Oil paintings from fine artists give the perfect finishing touches.
The less formal type of traditional design is accomplished by using the traditional look combined with more casual-looking fabrics, fabrics that are easy to live with. Using just a few traditional pieces in a casual setting sets a tone of livable sophistication. Rugs, for example, would be less Oriental and more earthy and tactile. Case-good lines, such as the legs on tables and chests, would be less curvy and sleeker. Upholstered pieces would have less wood and be mostly if not all fabric-covered.
What about combining traditional and contemporary styles? It's very doable. It is actually quite impressive if done right. A Traditional-style home with just a few select contemporary pieces makes for an eye-appealing look. The "shock" of a very contemporary piece in a room of traditional furnishings awakens the senses in a surprise. And it makes the room lively, evoking the feel of playfulness in a formal setting.
The reverse is also true. If you've been handed down a beautiful piece of furniture that has been in the family for a few generations, consider yourself lucky. If contemporary style is more up your alley, display that traditional piece in a prominent place in the room and surround it with furnishings and accessories you love. The combination will be appealing to the entire family.
— For a copy of Traditional Furniture Styles and Fabrics, send $3.00 plus a long, self-addressed stamped envelope to L&M Publications, PMB 229, PO Box 413005, Naples, FL. 34103-3005. Be sure to mention the title.
(Rosemary Sadez Friedmann is an interior designer and author based in Naples, Fla.)
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