We often get questions from our readers about the terminology we use in our descriptions of different room styles so we wanted to create a segment in which we give a detailed explanation of the terms along with visual examples.
In this first instalment we will focus on one of the most common decorating styles: Traditional.
Traditional decorating uses colors, objects, textures, and arrangements inspired by classic designs of the past. While the term is broad enough to encompass everything from Ancient Egyptian to Art Nouveau, for our purposes we generally use the term to describe the style of decorating that features elements and concepts dating from the early 1700s to the early 1920s.
Still a very popular decorating style, especially along the Eastern seaboard and in the South, many of the elements and pieces referred to as traditional are timeless classics that look as stately and elegant today as they did a century ago.
– Traditional upholstered pieces generally feature ornate exposed-wood trim and legs, curved arms and backs, and button tufting. Fabrics are usually heavily patterned with floral, tartan, or striped designs and have a silklike sheen and smooth texture.
– Traditional case-goods (hard wooden furniture) tend to be constructed of tightly-grained hardwoods (maple, oak, and mahogany) in a dark stain, and feature ornately carved detailing and curved wooden legs.
– Traditional floor coverings often consist of large, heavily patterned area rugs placed over dark-stained hardwood floors. The rugs may feature highly contrasting colors and fringe detailing on the edges.
– Traditional accessories consist of an eclectic collection of carved wooden curios, decorative plates, and ornate glassware. Artwork is generally hand-painted and framed in thick gold or dark wood frames with wide matting. Leather-bound books, globes, and other intellectually themed accessories also add visual character to a traditional room.
– Traditional lighting is soft and muted in nature, with table and floor lamps featuring opaque shades to obscure the source of light and to provide an ambient glow.
– Traditional window coverings almost invariably feature a combination of elements, such as blinds or shutters layered with sheers, curtain panels, swags, and upholstered valances. They also tend to feature decorative trim, beadwork, or tasseled tie-backs as well as intricate fabric patterns and rich colorways (often designed to coordinate with the upholstery or wallpaper).
For more clarification on the definitions of various decorating terms visit our Glossary page.