Decorating Tips for a Traditional Home

Design Elements Every Traditional Home Needs

By Sunshine Menefee
Staff Writer

A traditional home is classic for many reasons. It’s filled with elements that have stood the test of time. This design style relies on items that have proven to be long-lasting and elegant. It’s supreme use of balance, symmetry, and order pay homage to ancient principles while still creating an atmosphere that is inviting and warm. With a home that is filled with memories of trips to far-off places, it’s easy to how this design aesthetic appeals to so many homeowners today. But a traditional home cannot simply be bought. Each piece is carefully curated, thoughtfully placed, and delicately balanced. So what, exactly, goes into the perfect rational home? We’ve compiled a list of must-haves for every classically influenced space.

Design Details


The ancient Grecians loved symmetry above all else. They believed perfection could only be obtained if the two sides of an object were identical. That translates into a home the uses order and balance to create a formal look. 


The foyer is an important part of the formal home. It allows guests to be greeted in a warm fashion without entering into more intimate areas of the home. Whether large or small, this separate space sets the tone for the rest of the house and lets friends and family know what to expect ahead.


The rounded back of the settee mimics the curve of the staircase.


Fireplace with detailed mantel

There are few things in life as inviting as a warm, crackling fire so it’s no surprise that a fireplace is almost always present in a traditional home. With a detailed wood or marble surround, they become the focal point of the great room.


The detailed wood mantel is topped with a pair of matching sconces and dentil molding.


Just as your makeup is not complete without eyeliner, no traditional room is complete without crown and base molding. Typically, the bigger, the better. Molding gives the room a finished and polished appearance.



Custom draperies are a must for a traditional home. Once a necessity for keeping cold drafts out, these full-length beauties liven a room with patterns and colors while softening the harsh edges of windows. The fuller the fabric, the more luxurious the room feels.


A custom valance with trim tops pinch-pleat draperies.



Mixing patterns is an art form and one traditional homes are right on the mark. Masculine stripes are balanced with toilet and florals. Along with damasks, all combine to create an elegant contrast to luxurious silks, sturdy cottons, and luscious velvets.


Wood tones

Earthy, rich stains showcase the intricate woodwork furniture. Stately pieces are paired with comfortable fabrics while smaller, dainty pieces are flanked with more delicate patterns.

Soft lines

Soft, grateful lines make for elegant furnishings. The harsh, rigid lines of modern furniture won’t be found in this style. Sofa backs will be adorned with slight curves, while straight legs will be carved with decorations.


Soft lines, roll arms and nailhead trim are hallmarks of craftsmanship.


Nailhead trim

Traditional homes highly regard custom work and  craftsmanship. One common element in this style is nailhead trim on furniture. It creates a decorative and functional border for fabrics and adds a masculine feel to the piece.



A warm home is a welcome sight for weary travelers.  are displayed next to the latest modern artwork. French and English antiques from the 18th and 19th centuries are staples in this decor.


This miniature portrait brings an Indian influence.


Gilded mirror

Ornately carved mirrors with gilding are another must have element. These regal pieces bring style and pizzazz to a dark corner and make a statement all on their own.

Wall sconces

Wall sconces are one of the oldest types of light fixtures and, when used with other types of lighting, create layers of light that cast a  warm glow on a room.

Crystal chandeliers

Another classic piece is the crystal chandelier. This light fixture adds a sparkling flair to a room and brings a high style.


Whether it be gold, silver, or bronze, gilding is another classic element of the traditional home. It represents fine craftsmanship and adds a stately elegance to whatever it adorns.


Metals are considered a sign of wealth and style.


Classic motifs

Traditional homes are all about the classics and that includes patterns and motifs. You’ll find quatrefoil, Greek keys, crests and shields as design elements.


Antique motifs are prevalent in traditional homes.



Rich, warm colors are the mainstays of traditional homes with lighter colors used as accents. Today’s homes feature neutrals in beige and gray and brighter colors, such as yellow and red. Blue and white is a very classic color combination as well. Pastels are kept to a minimum, if used at all.




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