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Style Spotlight: Traditional Interior Design

Tasteful, symmetrical, warm, and welcoming —Traditional design stands the test of time with comfortable familiarity.

Amanda Scott
Amanda Scott
Traditional kitchen and dining area with luxe fixtures in black and gold.

Traditional is a style that never relies on trends, and instead leans on its classic color palette and quality craftsmanship to stay relevant. Attempting to define traditional decor can be problematic because it includes many other decorating styles, from French country to colonial. Simply stated: it is tasteful, symmetrical, warm, and welcoming. It’s stood the test of time because it’s comfortable and familiar. Curved shapes, refined textiles, and a sense of order make traditional style one that is always warm and welcoming. While decorating trends may change, traditional will always be in style. 

When many think of traditional decor, they think of elegant wallpaper, classic furnishings, antique accents, patterned or textured rugs, statement lighting, and a thoughtfully planned color scheme. However, interior designers have started to use bolder colors like jewel tones in modern traditional decor. Reds, navy blues, greens, and yellows are right at home, as are every possible shade of white, beige, and gray.

Traditional Lighting

Glass shade pendants over kitchen island. Black candle style chandelier.

Because symmetry is such an important element of traditional design, lighting fixtures are often featured in pairs. A pair of sconces flanking a fireplace, two pendants over a kitchen island, even two ceiling fans in a large enough space.  

The fixtures themselves are lovely, if simple. Basic designs made of glass and metal, pendants, and sconces are often boxy in shape.  

Other traditional lighting exhibits classic styling. Lamps with silk shades and floor lamps might be used in addition to permanent fixtures. Shades are fairly plain and usually appear in ivory or white. Ceiling fans may have a lighting element that is uncomplicated.


Luxe traditonal kitchen, wood island, marble subway tile, gold faucet.

Kitchen components will usually have a mix of straight lines and curves. Carving detail is not unheard of in this style as well. Traditionally, wood pieces would be finished with darker stains, but a traditional kitchen might also use lighter woods for cabinetry as long as the lines of each piece are classic. 

Ornate traditional cabinet hardware in gold, nickel and pewter finishes.

Accenting the cabinetry, the hardware is never too ornate. These are generally uncomplicated designs that function without making a statement. Modern traditional design calls for a more sleek handle or knob, but remains unpretentious in design.

Arched neck oil rubbed bronze faucet, gray farmhouse sink.

In the traditional style, the kitchen sink and faucet will coordinate perfectly. A faucet that is slightly flared without being ornate is perfect. Farmhouse sinks complement the style well because of their plain front.


Light wood vanity, wall sconces on either side of mirror, claw foot tub.

In the bathroom, a vanity in a neutral color is key. If cabinets are present, they are most likely Shaker style.

Navy blue freestanding soaking tub, classic clawfoot tub, ornate feet.

Traditional tubs can be alcove or freestanding, and are generally big enough for a good soak. Accompanying faucets may be telephone style or something a bit less elaborate. Although faucets, tubs, and sinks do seem to be more adorned than anywhere else in the traditional style.

Gold chandelier over clawfoot tub, gold sconce lights framing mirror.

Bathroom lighting follows the pattern set in the rest of the space: symmetrical and often found in pairs. A centered chandelier or pendant would look lovely in a traditional bathroom, as well.

Outdoor and Entry

Dark wood door, bronze door hardware with curved handle. Blue door.

Beginning with a classic style door in a neutral brown, black, or white, a stately entry is the first introduction to the traditional home. Door hardware in this style is often curvaceous and slightly intricate. It can include large handles or knobs.

Lantern style light sconces glowing. Pendant light over entry door.

Lighting is extremely important in an entryway, and a traditional entryway is no exception. Large sconces on either side of a doorway or even one oversized pendant will allow plenty of light to greet guests in this design style. Post lighting along walkways provides safe entry as well as a stylish addition.

Traditional — Carried On 

Traditional design is functional, unfussy, and restful looking. Edges are soft, smooth, and blend into the whole. In this design of classic lines and understated details, you can’t go wrong with the simplest of style choices.

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