Press "Enter" to skip to content

Interior Design

Traditional Living Room Decorating

Looking to cast your style toward a more traditional bent? Here are decorating essentials to include in any traditional living room collection.

Play with color and pattern.

This stunning space makes use of a variety of traditional style essentials: an organic print, bold hues, symmetrical light fixtures, metallic accents and analogous colors. It’s especially noteworthy for the almost hidden use of the blue wallpaper inside the bookcases; those feature a collection of rigorously edited Asian sculptures too.

Incorporate furniture details.

Turned legs, carved arms, overstuffed cushions: all can be found in furniture that’s critical to a traditional living room decorating style.

Use statement light fixtures.

Whether they have intricately forged metal elements or a cascade of crystals, light fixtures can transform the decor of a living room into a traditionally styled space. Keep in mind the heritage influence in both shape and size, and use the colors to tie together other accents in the room too.

Consider using statement wallpaper.

There’s so much traditional beauty in this living room, it’s hard to narrow down the most outstanding element. With the wainscoting, the corbels, the curved lines of the ornate wood hutch and the overstuffed furniture, this room has virtually every element of a traditional living room. What it also has is a statement, swoon-worthy wallpaper—in a nature print that’s also very much a signature of traditional decor—which gives the room extra traditional heft.

Choose richly stained wood.

Deep, dark colors in the wood furniture—chests, side tables, buffets and more—of traditional living room decor are completely in step with the overall style of such spaces. Gloss finish may also lend a welcome air of formality, as does restrained hardware.

Go for patterned floors.

Much the way that symmetry is important to traditional living room decor, so is geometry—particularly in floors. Here, intersecting squares set at an angle provide a neutral contrast to the warm beige and cocoa hues in the fabrics.

Incorporate bold nature prints.

Traditional decor often draws much of its imagery from the natural world. Birds, plants, animals—all can make an appearance in fabrics, wallpaper and accents. This room offers a good example of boldly embracing a multitude of representations. What ties the space together is the subtle variations in color—all green, in varying hues, with just a pop of analogous blue.

Embrace symmetry.

Regularity creates order and a visual sense of purpose, which makes it a good tool to utilize in traditional living room decor. Here, that symmetry comes about through the placement of matching side chests and side chairs, as well as a proportional sofa, for a view that’s sumptuous but restrained.

Choose conventional art.

Art that would have been at home centuries ago still works in traditional living room decorating schemes. Very often the frames are equally ornate, with rich finishes and carvings to set off portraits, nature scenes and more.

Soften surfaces with area rugs.

In many traditional rooms, hardwood floors are an indispensable piece—but so, too, are rugs. They help to soften underfoot surfaces as well as add pattern and tie together disparate hues. Here, the subdued geometric pattern reflects the neutral focus of the creams and grays in this bright space.

Use architectural elements to pull a room together.

Much of what cements a living room as traditionally styled are its decorative features: molding, trim, woodwork. In this space, those elements bring solidity and elegance to the room, particularly the deep trim on the ceiling.

Elect for aged finishes.

No matter whether a structure is centuries or decades or even months old, a traditional feel to living room decor is easier to execute if the finishes give the appearance of age and solidity. That may come through a wash—here, the soft gray of the woodwork—or paint that appears just slightly distressed but still finished.

Go for rich, boldly colored walls.

Colors in traditional rooms tend to lean toward the basics: blues, reds, greens, yellows. Even still, they can appear in fearless ways, as in the purple-black hue of this traditional living room. The color here carries through on the built-in bookcases as well as the wood floor, mostly hidden beneath a room-brightening cream rug.

Seek out sumptuous window dressings.

Multilayered shades and curtains—often with tiebacks, swags or other extras—add more depth and visual texture to traditional living room decor. They’re also a good way to include an accent-worthy color or pattern. Here, a gray-brown, floral-inspired print ties together cording on the side chairs as well as the sofa’s hue.

Mix patterns.

Many traditional living rooms, particularly those that draw their influence from more Old World-leaning spaces, feature a cascading collection of patterns that are loosely united by either a color or similar shape. Here, the dominant color scheme—an orange-leaning red and a light yellow—offers harmony to no less than five patterns.

Use classic materials.

Wood, brick, glass, stone: you’re more likely to find this collection of components in any traditional living room decor than you are more unusual additions. Here, the pieces are assembled in rigorous patterns and finishes.

Incorporate texture.

With all its consistency, traditional living room decor still has room for variance in surfaces and finishes. Here, there’s a washed, aged finish to the pair of symmetrical hutches, as well as the grain inherent to the coffee table. Fabrics also offer a nubby feel, with a pattern that’s grounded in the traditional favorite: a flower/foliage motif.

© Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved. Used with permission.