Traditional Design Style 101

Timeless rather than trendy, traditional style is a tried-and-true look that's ever evolving, mixing vintage and antique finds with a few of-the-moment accessories for a lasting look that truly never goes out of style.

Living Room: wide shot of completed living room

and Sarah Off the Grid

What Is Traditional Style?

Timelessly on-trend, traditional style lends a sense of stability and collected-over-time charm to any indoor or outdoor space. While traditional style can sometimes seem formal — to really nail the look, choose elements that are comfortable, colorful and curated.

Traditional Style Creates a Warm Welcome

Traditional fans know that your home's style starts at the front door — and, with a handpainted mural and layers of patterns and textures, all in beautiful shades of blue, this entryway is a stylish stunner that sets a tasteful tone. Add in an adorable pup and, well, who wouldn't want to come home to this?!

Photo by: Lisa Romerein

Lisa Romerein

Traditional Style Can Be Relaxed …

Timeworn, weathered and perfectly aged pieces — with just the right amount of patina — are a welcome addition to any traditional space.

Silver bamboo candlesticks and bright dahlias on black tray.

Blue Wicker Coffee Table With Candlesticks and Flower Arrangement

Don’t be shy about mixing ostensibly formal pieces with more weathered ones: in this breakfast-room tableau, a pair of high-gloss bamboo candlesticks are right at home beside a gloriously weathered vase.

Photo by: Jeff Herr

Jeff Herr

… Or, Traditional Style Can Go Glam

As this stunning kitchen proves, sometimes more is more: more metallics, more marble and a massive range hood combine to create an open-concept kitchen that cooks up picture-perfect traditional style.



“I wanted a kitchen that felt sophisticated, to fit with the original look of the house,” says Brittany. A majestic powder-coated-wood range hood in black and gold by APF, Inc. became the centerpiece, contrasted with custom-color gray blue cabinets and luxe marble countertops. Gold-toned shelves echo the hood. “Even cooking spaghetti feels fancy in this kitchen,” says Brittany.

Photo by: Lisa Romerein

Lisa Romerein

Traditional Style Puts Collections on Display

Whether you inherited beautiful pieces or are just a savvy shopper, from European antiques to midmod masterpieces, traditionalists know that collections should be displayed — not hidden away out of sight.

Teal and green porcelain dishes hang on a wall.

Traditional Coastal Room with Blue-Green Porcelain Display and Chinoiserie

A vivid collection of antique majolica oyster plates both references a local delicacy and creates a large-scale pattern of its own on an otherwise-neutral wall. It’s also a terribly clever way to display heirlooms or antique-store finds that might be of dubious use as serving pieces.

Photo by: Emily Followill

Emily Followill

Traditional Style Layers Patterns

From florals to checks to stripes to toile and even bold graphic prints, traditional style welcomes 'em all and layers pattern on pattern for a curated look whose sum is greater than each of its parts. So, how do you pair patterns like a pro? Just vary the patterns' scale — small, medium and large — for a look that's layered without feeling matchy-matchy.

A traditional master bedroom features blue and white textiles.

Traditional Master Bedroom with Blue-and-White Porcelain Motif

Everything in this 19th-century Alabama home's master bedroom — from the monogrammed custom linens to the hand-painted bedside dresser and the complementary curtains — contributes to a feeling of impeccable tailoring and bespoke luxury. A stately four-poster bed adds a vertical dimension to the space.

Photo by: Emily Followill

Emily Followill

Designer Tip:

Traditional style often includes silk, linen and velvet upholstery and window coverings in damask, florals, stripes and plaids with ornately detailed dark wood, inspired by 18th and 19th century designs. Layered in color and texture, traditional style interiors bring a sense of history and glamour to a space.

Chair of the ASID National Board, designer Kerrie Kelly

Traditional Style Embraces Symmetry

Calm, cool and collected, this living room shows how symmetry creates a look that's balanced and restful — while creating a cozy setting that's perfect for coffee or convo.

Great Room With Brown End Tables

Cottage Great Room With Brown End Tables

The kitchen is at one end of this long great room, a living area at the other. It was important to break up the large space into distinct sections so that the room would feel inviting, not overwhelming.

Photo by: Aimée Mazzenga

Aimée Mazzenga

Traditional Style Kicks Up the Color

Unlike other design styles that rely on a muted palette (looking at you, Scandi style), traditional style embraces all the colors of the rainbow — the more saturated, the better.

Green Cottage Mudroom

Green Cottage Mudroom With Striped Cushion

Mossy green walls and cabinetry turn this mudroom into an inviting space at the end or beginning of the day's adventures. Baskets neatly store smaller items above and below the bench. Wall hooks handle the hats and coats.

Photo by: Aimée Mazzenga

Aimée Mazzenga

Traditional Style Includes Global Accents

Whether incorporating Chinese ceramics, heavily carved French furniture or handwoven African baskets, traditional style has always rocked a globetrotting style. So, show off your travels.

HGTV Spring House 2017: Blue and white chinoiserie garden stools

Garden Stools

Asian-inspired ceramic garden stools are one of the most timeless choices for adding impromptu seating for any part of the house. The most popular style is chinoiserie which depicts botanical shapes and Asian landscapes in shades of blue and white.

Photo by: Flynnside Out Productions

Flynnside Out Productions

More Design Styles to Consider

Next Up

Cottage Design Style 101

Nostalgic and subtly simple, cottage style uses natural motifs and airy colors to infuse warmth and comfort into any space.

How to Wrap Gifts in Vintage Cookie Tins

Vintage metal tins are budget-friendly collectibles that make wrapping beautiful gifts a snap, and, bonus: can be used again and again. Fill with homemade treats for a tasty gift they won't soon forget.

How to Make Lighted Marquee Letters

Usher in fall and the start of the entertaining season with the warm glow of these vintage-inspired marquee-style letters.

Arts & Crafts, Art Nouveau and Art Deco: Which Is Which?

Art Deco style is currently all the rage — and it’s often confused with sound-alike styles. Here’s the history of each of these timeless design styles, and their defining characteristics.

Vintage Kitchen Decorating Ideas

Browse options for vintage kitchen decorating ideas, and get ready to reference a bygone era in fun and interesting ways in your kitchen design.

Antique Kitchen Decorating Ideas

Browse antique kitchen decorating ideas, and prepare to add a historical and elegant design to your kitchen.

25 Lovely Ideas for a Vintage-Inspired Wedding

Say 'I do' to this soft, romantic style.

Make Old Furniture New Again With These Designer Tips

Revitalize thrift store finds with these modern fixes.

Learn How to Clean Silver With This Easy (and Cheap!) Trick

Put a little science and two kitchen staples (aluminum foil and baking soda) to work to easily vanquish years' worth of tarnish from your silver or silverplated flatware.

HGTV Obsessed Episode 10: Frozen in Time

This week Kat and Mike welcome Maureen McCormick and Dan Vickery of HGTV’s new show Frozen in Time. Then Orlando Soria lets us know that wall-to-wall carpeting isn’t such a design faux pas.

Go Shopping

Refresh your home with stylish products handpicked by HGTV editors.


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