January 1, 2017

A Return to Traditional Design

I am all about traditional design, but then you all already know that. I am revisiting the "traditional" topic because I am thinking about my parents new house. 

Their new house is a blank slate so to speak. It is a hip roofed low country style with porches on the front and back. They went with a neutral beige wall color, white trim, and medium hand scraped hardwood flooring. These are all great starting points! They do not need any furniture except for a low media cabinet for their large flatscreen. Mom and dad want to stay with a traditional style...so we will be slowly developing a plan. 

Let's look at what a home needs in order to fit into what is called "traditional" style. 

Today's traditional is fresh and fun, while still honoring classic lines and style. Fabrics are brighter and more fun. Dishes are colorful. And one can mix and match more contemporary pieces with antiques for a great look. 

I guess you could say that the rules have relaxed over the decades. (If you are a purist though, ...those rules might be firm.)

Everyone has the choice to choose what makes them happy in their home. And that is the fun of today's traditional style!

I was reading an old copy of Southern Living magazine and caught a sentence about a return to traditional design. I was thrilled to see that because, well, I am a traditional girl.

While I can admire, and even really like other design styles, I seem to "default" to traditional as my design preference. 

I do not mean "colonial" which is what I used to relate to traditional.

I like a traditional Southern look. I love federal style furniture, houses, and silver.  I like traditional style with a twist here and there. 

I am fine with a camel back sofa done in a zingy color. The color updates an old style. My Chippendale camel back sofa was originally in a citrus yellow tone on tone damask. 

Look at these sofas. What if you put the yellow fabric on the camel back sofa?  That would be the kind of look I would prefer! 

Traditional does not have to be dull and old looking. Which sofa frame and which fabric speaks to you? both are examples of traditional style.
My Chippendale camelback sofa, with oriental fabric.
pic/One Kings Lane
pic/ One Kings Lane
There are ten items to use if you want to have a southern traditional look in your house. I do not think that they are suggesting that you use all of the ideas, but rather that you can pick and choose the ones you like, and maybe already have in your house.

Consider the following suggestions by Southern Living if you want a traditional southern look. The title of the article is, Ten Decorating Resolutions. Very appropriate for the beginning of the year!

Source, Southern Living Magazine, Jan 2015
The article suggests that you begin with the three "Cs" to get an instant Southern traditional style.

1. Chinoiserie plates, fabric, wallpaper, décor pieces.      
2. Chippendale style furniture     
3. Checked fabric, wallpaper, etc.
4. Valances for Windows
5. Latticework 
6. Garden Stool for a side table
7. Animal Prints for some wow
8. Wall Treatments (paper, upholstered, stenciled, murals, etc.)
9. Portraits, yours or a strangers.
10. Upholstered Doors.

source, One Kings Lane
For more information...
1.Chinoiserie refers to items with an oriental flavor.
2.Chippendale refers to a specific style of furniture.
3.Checks, as in Buffalo checks.
4.Valances as opposed to full window drapes.
5.Lattice work...wallpaper, or wood versions.
6.Garden Stools remain strong for use indoors or out.
7.Animal Prints could be zebra, leopard,ocelot, etc.
8.Wall Treatments are anything other than plain painted walls.
9.Portraits of ancestors, or others, can lend a feeling of tradition to a room.
10.Upholstered doors like you might see in a restaurant.

example of traditional style, source, One Kings Lane

In my love of traditional I have to be careful that my "traditional" does not become old and dowdy looking. With our clothing...if we do not add style updates to our wardrobe from time to time, well, we can start to look frumpy or old. I guess a home's interior can become frumpy and old too.
example of traditional style, source, One Kings Lane

What I think, and hope is true, is that if my furniture is good quality and has good bones, then I can update a room with accessories, drapes, valances, pillows or rugs. 

If I go with this theory, then I can use my old wing back chairs as long as I have a timely fabric on it. Same thing with window treatments, etc.

In using the checklist of ten items above I have looked around my house to see how many items I might have to qualify me as having traditional southern style in my home.

Chinoiserie. check.
Chippendale legs on wing back chairs and camel back sofa. check. 
Valances. Yes, I have three custom made valances in the house, with the possibility of two more if I can figure out what I want in son's room. check.
Animal prints.  I have several animal print pillows in the great room. check.
Portraits (of children.) Though not old they are large with gilt frames and they are portraits. 
No garden stool. 
No lattice. 
No special wall treatments...Yet. 
No upholstered doors. 

I hope I have enough to make my house qualify as southern traditional style. I probably will not be adding any lattice or upholstered doors, as those just do not appeal to me. I could see adding some large buffalo checks on pillows or a comforter for son's room. I love animal prints, so there is the possibility of adding more touches here and there.  

I will be talking about traditional style off and on so be sure to check back...or better yet, enter your email to subscribe (in the sidebar.)

This post was featured on Rattlebridge Farm Blog

Additional Posts that you might enjoy...
2014, It's A Wrap!
Bisquick Easy Chocolate Chip Cookies...

Easy Cinnamon Bread
My Christmas Hustle and Bustle
Christmas at Our House 
(FEATURED on Dwellings, The Heart of Your Home.)  http://mykentuckyliving.blogspot.com/2014/12/christmas-at-our-house.html
My Banana Bread Recipe

This post is being shared with the following blogs…Please visit them too.
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Eleven Gables 

The Dedicated House
Between Naps on the Porch
Dwellings, the Heart of Your Home
A Stroll Thru Life, Inspire me Tuesday
Stone Gable Blog, the Scoop
Savvy Southern Style, Wow us Wednesday
Rattlebridge Farm, Foodie Friday

My Kentucky Living
My Kentucky Living

Hello, I'm Sheila and my house is a giant art project! I enjoy creating an environment where my family can feel safe, secure, and loved. We are empty nesters learning to slow down and enjoy life.


  1. Sheila, my sofa preference must be a short seat to go with my short legs. LOL
    I like traditional, Asian (especially blue and white Chinese pottery), and some glass (gasp). I have been hanging onto some maple pieces and can't bring myself to paint the hutch and buffet or sell it. Eclectic describes me.
    Happy New Year.

  2. Hi Sheila! Looks so beautiful and Happy New Year!
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

  3. Sheila, I'm a traditional girl, too! Last spring we finally updated a traditional bedroom that had grown "old and dowdy and frumpy" by changing out light fixture, lampshades, bedding and window treatments. A friend asked, "Did you get new furniture?" Nope, my old traditional furniture had "good bones" and just needed new accessories to shine again. Love your blog!

  4. You have one of the prettiest houses on blogs I've seen, Sheila...so classic and elegant and yet comfy and warm...I love your style. How fun to help your parents decorate their new home...xoxo

  5. I am so happy to see that there are more traditional looks in recent publications....the classics will always stand the test of time. I had a white camel back sofa that I gave to my sister when we moved knowing I was not going to have a formal living room....it still looks wonderful. Here's to the year of the traditional look! Happy New Year!

  6. I'm Pinning this post to my Home board. You and Southern Living both have great taste!

  7. Yes! I totally agree! It's so funny because I wrote about this today too! Well, I called it "pretty" decor, but it really is just traditional decor with some softer color palettes! Yes, good furniture is always good furniture but sometimes just needs some new fabric to make it fresh!

  8. Sheila,
    Traditional design never goes out of style... in my mind. How you decorate with traditional design is always appealing to me.


  9. Dont you hate putting away all the festive holiday things? Thank you for sharing at #thursdayfavoritethings

  10. Love this post! I love traditional southern décor! For many years, I tried to decorate with trends. Im so happy, that I finally embraced my heart and personal style rather than the many trends that come and go!


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