DECORATING in traditional style guarantees a look that will stand the test of time.
Evergreen and unquestionably evocative, traditionally styled rooms exude a sense of nobility and comfort that is often difficult to define, yet easy to recognise.
Traditional decorating encapsulates the opulence of 18th through to 20th century European tastes with highly decorated wooden furniture, well-worn leathers and plush fabrics. The traditional room need not be formal, and a more casual stance is possible, and yet invariably traditional equates to formal, with well chosen furniture, colours and accessories that project an aura of country House gentility.
Colours are all important in traditional rooms. Think formal study with wood-panelled walls and burgundy leather club chairs. Neutral colours or richer jewel tones are at home here, and wallpaper choices might range from cricket stripe to images of bowls of fruit, leaves and vines or even French style damask wall coverings. Stencil detailing is another option with fleur de lys or paisley themes.
Fabrics are luxurious and can be used liberally. Brocades, velvets and tapestries can be used for upholstery or window treatments. Layered window coverings are popular with sheer curtains covered by drapes and a cornice and swag. Seating is usually covered in rich patterned fabrics with stripes, motifs or coats of arms, accessorised with heavy throws and comfortable cushions.
Furniture in the traditional mould is easy to identify and styles are vast. Prior to the 1900s, Italy, France and Great Britain each had their own highly distinctive styles of furniture. Whilst some of these pieces are still to be found in traditional styled rooms, newer replicas, influenced by period antique originals are common and invariably less expensive to source. The vast majority of original wooden furniture is crafted from walnut, yew, rosewood or mahogany, whilst even earlier pieces would have been made from oak.
Wooden furniture pieces for the bedroom, such as four poster beds would invariably have been substantial in size and heavy and would either have been allowed to retain its natural colour or have been enhanced with stains rather than paint.
Older English style oak pieces darkened down naturally with polishing and the passing of time to exhibit the ruby brown patina that is so revered today. Metal beds and brass beds were also hugely popular during the late 19th and early 20th century with a vast and diverse range of traditional bedstead styles.
Whilst still obtainable for the traditionally styled bedroom, more recent quality reproductions are more affordable and just as majestic to behold, forming the focal point of many a romantically elegant bedroom theme.
Elegant details and accessories will always complement a traditional room theme. The little details are important, and might include tassel fringes added to drapes and curtains or cord trimming on an ottoman or chaises longues. Bronze coloured nail head details look great when added to the bottom edge of a sofa or around the back of a chair, whilst crystal chandeliers in any room are the epitome of the traditional style.
Wall decoration might include still life paintings and family portraits or mirrors with ornately gilded frames. Rich wall tapestries are also in keeping with the look as is anything with a “clubby” association.
Wingback chairs, club chairs and worn leather sofas should all have that lived-in look without being in any way shabby It pays to resist the temptation to include too much furniture and detail to a traditional room that might turn it into a cluttered space. Instead, it’s worth taking the time to plan the furniture and accessory selection carefully, taking into account the colour theme and textures mix for assured results to inspire and captivate.