Networx

Posted by Linda Merrill | May 02, 2011

Mixing Modern and Classic Styles

A designer discusses how to mix home accessories.

theswedish/stock.xchngDecorative accessories are what make a collection of rooms become a home; they fill in the spaces between the sofa and the life of the person who sits on the sofa.  Accessories are everything but the furniture, rugs, widow treatments and lighting. If you think about it, a room with just those elements would look very flat indeed, regardless of the beauty or quality of the individual pieces.

It the accessories' that bring life to the space and accessorizing a space can be a very difficult thing to pull off. It's not uncommon for a design project to grind to a halt when it comes to finishing the job with accessories. I believe one of the roadblocks is how to mix old and new items. Some of our older pieces may have great sentimental value, but perhaps not a lot of modern pizzazz. And yet, modern, trendy pieces may come across as having no soul because they are new and don't yet represent the homeowner.  It can be tempting to match everything in a space, and this is certainly an easy to way to go, but it's in the layers that interesting things happen. Here are tips to mixing up the old with the new to break design conventions:

  • Generally speaking, when mixing classic and modern design styles, its best to lean more heavily on one style than the other. An even split between styles can look too hodgepodge. However, a single element, such as an antique crystal chandelier, will look fantastic in an all modern space just as a piece of modern sculpture will sit well in a more classically designed room. DIY Resource: http://www.networx.com/article/mixing-modern-and-classic-styles
  • Modern fabrics such as a bold geographic print can look amazing on a classic piece of furniture such as a wing chair. Stores like Anthropolgie do this all the time to great effect.
  • Avoid using too many prints and patterns of different styles and patterns, or at least mix up the size and scale a combination of large and small prints. A grouping of mixed pattern toss pillows will work best if a few solid colors are thrown in to calm down the visual noise.
  • Tie disparate styles together with color. A mix of modern and traditional picture frames all painted a single color will work very well together.  DIY Resource: http://www.hometalk.com
  • If your style is predominantly traditional but you'd like to freshen things up with a bit of trendy flair, select smaller, less expensive items to accomplish your goal. Instead of covering the windows or the sofa in today's hot fabric, start small with throw pillows or a tablecloth. This year's color of the year is Honeysuckle pink and we're seeing a lot of it. You can easily incorporate it into the mix in small doses and then swap it out again when the trend is over.

By carefully considering your mix of old and new by playing up common elements and keeping scale and proportion in mind, it's very easy, and exciting to mix up design styles.

Linda Merrill is a Networx writer.  Read more articles like this one, or get help with your home project on Hometalk.com.

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