Buckingham Street:  Living room by Roselind Wilson Design

​8 design ideas for traditional living rooms

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
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A lover of vintage designs? Not keen on all-white, too-sleek schemes that show up in so many modern spaces? Sounds like a classic/traditional style is more up your alley. 

One thing we can say for traditional/classic designs: they sure weren’t shy about bringing on the detail. Ornate furniture, floral patterns, busy wallpaper, elegant fabrics – one can definitely stare at the traditional style for hours, as there are so many interesting details. The funny thing, however, is that the term ‘traditional’ can mean various different things to different people – there is no set-in-stone formula.

However, there are a few simple tips and tricks one can follow if one wants to invite the traditional look into the most social space in the entire house: the living room. And that’s why we’ve conjured up these 8 ideas for lovers of traditional living rooms.

1. Traditional living rooms: Mix old and new

Cheyne Gardens:  Living room by Will Eckersley
Will Eckersley

Cheyne Gardens

Will Eckersley

Nobody is saying that just because you fancy the traditional style you need to make your living room seem old and outdated. By all means, put a fresh spin on that vintage look by combining a few antiques with some super modern pieces. 

For instance, imagine a classic Chesterfield velvet sofa which sets the traditional tone in the living room, yet then contrast it with a minimalist glass coffee table. Throw in a quirky lamp in the corner, but then tip the scales back over to the traditional side with an ornate-carved credenza.

2. Traditional living rooms: Be careful with paint

Light, pastel hues have no business in a traditional-styled space. Instead, go more elegant with darker paint colours. But if you aren’t ready to commit to an entire bold room, try painting just one wall to make a statement. 

And if you want to follow the traditional style down to the dot, let those dark colours lean more towards the warmer side of the colour wheel while including a dash of neutrals. Wine- and mahogany reds, rust oranges, mauve purple, etc. Or go with an inviting earth tone like warm beige or mocha brown. 

Alternatively, forest greens and navy blue could also do the trick, ensuring a more moody ambience. 

If you want to stay far away from dark tones, your best bet is to go with bright whites offset with cool grey tones – a simple backdrop for your more traditional furnishings.

3. Traditional living rooms: Include texture for character

Georgian Country House:  Living room by Etons of Bath
Etons of Bath

Georgian Country House

Etons of Bath

Texture equals detail, which equals character. And that’s what is required to stop your traditional living room from becoming too formal. 

Rugs, cushions, throws, curtains, tables, floors and chairs – these all possess the ability to flaunt rich texture. But don’t opt to include intricate textures for every single piece. Leave a few ‘blank’ surfaces here and there, such as a coffee table and the two lampshades on both sides of the sofa – there is such a thing as texture overkill.

4. Traditional living rooms: Pick furniture that creates symmetry

Light and bright!:  Living room by CC Construction
CC Construction

Light and bright!

CC Construction

Imagine an invisible line right down the middle of your traditional living room – what is done on one side needs to be repeated on the other. Traditional designs reflect consistency, order, and an attention to detail—that is what stops those busy patterns and textures from becoming too chaotic. 

Of course you can bend this rule a tad here and there, for any perfectly symmetrical room can end up looking too stiff. Thus, keep your furniture layout symmetrical, but don’t be too exact with your décor. 

homify hint: Ensure there’s plenty of breathing room around your furnishings to avoid it looking too stuffy.

5. Traditional living rooms: Reclaim vintage furnishings for storage

The living room looking through to the kitchen, Mansfield Street Apartment, London:  Living room by Nash Baker Architects Ltd
Nash Baker Architects Ltd

The living room looking through to the kitchen, Mansfield Street Apartment, London

Nash Baker Architects Ltd

Just like a living room in any other design style, your traditional one also needs to be committed to storage. And one way you can do this is by salvaging vintage pieces.

Fell in love with a beautifully carved chest of drawers that don’t really belong in your bedroom? Picked up an old china cabinet at a yard sale? Think of ways in which these can be pulled into your traditional living room to not only look beautiful, but also help out with storage. That china cabinet, for instance, could easily help display DVDs and books, while the chest of drawers can make a stunning sideboard.

6. Traditional living rooms: Learn to love traditional wallpaper

Don’t be scared if you’ve never decorated with wallpaper – it’s very easy and a quick way to give colour, pattern and style to any space. But when choosing your traditional wallpaper, first assess the size of your living room. Rule of thumb states that smaller patterns belong in a smaller room, while larger motifs are better for lofty spaces. 

Bonus points if your traditional living room sports high ceilings, as that means you have so many more wallpaper options at your disposal!

7. Traditional living rooms: Choose traditional curtains

Restored Georgian splendour with modern indulgences:  Living room by Design by UBER
Design by UBER

Restored Georgian splendour with modern indulgences

Design by UBER

There’s nothing wrong with picking neat roller blinds and wooden shutters for your traditional living room, but if you want to fully commit to a vintage look, go with curtains and drapes complete with lush fabrics and ornate pelmets. 

homify hint: The higher your place those curtain pelmets above the window, the higher your living room ceiling will look.

8. Traditional living rooms: Opt for traditional wooden floors

Formal Reception:  Living room by Fisher ID
Fisher ID

Formal Reception

Fisher ID

Finally, a hardwood floor to give your living room that classic period feel. But also consider the size of the space first, as well as how often it’s used. 

If your living room is regularly chosen as an entertainment venue, choose darker and more durable engineered wood flooring. If you’re on a tight budget, we suggest a realistic wood-effect laminate flooring or vinyl. 

Now it’s time for tea in that classy, traditional living room of yours!

From one design style to another, let’s embrace Scandinavian living.

What are your thoughts on a traditional living room? Do you prefer something more modern?
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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