5 Tricks to Merging Modern Design with Traditional Digs

Pattern Makes Perfect

By establishing a recurring motif, it's easier to layer in pieces, as the larger, overall look will keep the room unified.

Even if you live in an American colonial house, incorporating sleek, modern designs is a cinch. By thinking about common design principles and doing a little prior planning, a traditional-looking home can be as funky and fun as you want. From adding pops of color to mostly neutral rooms to scaling up accessories to create points of interest, a home can look just like a professional decorator's. If you're ready to get started, check out these tips below from the pros:

1. Scale It Up

Austin, Texas–based Heather Scott knows how to make rooms sing with oversized hanging pendants, lamps, and photographs. She writes in her blog about how her team removed the builder-grade pendants above the kitchen island and replaced them with two over-sized pendants "to add a little bit of a 'wow' factor." If pendants aren't your thing, she also recommends sizing-up table lamps to keep the visual effect tantalizing and keep the rest of the room in proportion.

Large Lamps

2. Pattern Makes Perfect

Designer Rebecca Atwood interviewed decorator Kiki Dennis about how she uses pattern for a client project—and we don't need to tell you her work is stunning. Dennis recommends those decorating their homes to "start with a pattern you really love," as you will likely want to keep it in your space for a long time. A central pattern also makes it easier to design a theme around, especially if it's one that needs to bridge traditionaland modern design. By establishing a recurring motif, it's easier to layer in pieces, as the larger, overall look will keep the room unified.

Mixed Pattern Decor

3. Contrasting Color

Even if you're drawn to more traditional furniture pieces, there's still much you can do: Sometimes all it takes is painting that old Windsor chair or campaign dresser a bright color that pops within a room. Jen Derose writes at House Beautiful that contrasting colors are key to making a house dramatic and lively. Or, as she points out in an example of decorator Jeffrey Bilhuber's work, sometimes all it takes is contrasting chair cushions—easy to add, easy to remove later.

Pops of Color

4. Try Some Texture

If you're not into color or scale and prefer to keep things minimalist, texture can always add that extra oompf and look great with both modern and traditional pieces. In a recent article for Vogue, interior designer Martyn Lawrence-Bullard notes that brushed brass, chunky knits and smooth leather are in. By pairing metals with rougher or more matte surfaces, such as a stunning faucet with a slate counter, you'll make the interior more inviting and responsive.

5. Keep It Clean

It's not always easy to know how a design will turn out in the end, and that's nerve-wracking, especially when pairing modern with traditional. The best way to overcome this issue is to pair down to the necessities, layering a broad range of pieces little by little. For example, if a home has delicate moulding, perhaps starting with a large area rug or the wallpaper would be the best idea, as it creates a blank canvas on which to work. You might even realize that a side table and a pair of chairs is all you need, as flashes of brilliance happen when you've got space to think.