Traditional interior design is a timeless style that incorporates more formal design elements. It’s what you might think of as old-fashioned, but more like a posh old library than grandma’s formal living room design style.
What is Traditional Style Interior Design?
Traditional design is an understated, less-formal style based off of an older American design. Traditional interiors pull elements from Colonial and Craftsman design and offer a humbler, more understated approach to design. These spaces feature materials like leather upholstery with a rich patina, muted or woven patterns, and dark wood furnishings with minimal ornamentation. Traditional interior design is definitely less of a “trendy” style, but that doesn’t mean it’s not beautiful! You’ll often see traditional interior design elements paired with other styles to give them an elevated, elegant look.
What’s the Difference Between Traditional and Classic Design?
Classic design style is inherently more formal and elegant than traditional style. While both styles tend to incorporate antique and heirloom pieces of furniture and rely on darker wood tones, they come to life in different ways. In a traditional space, these pieces will be more craftsman-inspired and understated, with minimal ornamentation. Meanwhile, classical antiques tend to feature a bit more ornamentation, with scrolling and carved details. That’s because classic design ideas take inspiration from old-school French and Neoclassical designs, whereas Americana-inspired traditional design elements take more inspiration from Colonial and Craftsman interiors. That means classic pieces will elevate a space and give it a more formal, elegant vibe, while strictly American traditional style will be a lot more relaxed and approachable. So, while both styles are more historically inspired, they come to life in different ways.
Know you like antiques but still wondering “What’s my design style?” between classic and traditional? Take our style quiz to learn more about your unique style! But, as you’ll see throughout this post, you can also easily blend these styles together. So, who knows—maybe you’re drawn to a mix of both!
The Style: Updated Traditional
This traditional style bedroom design blends furniture and decor from both contemporary and traditional interior design styles. To get this look, start with a classic color palette, like neutrals, warm woods, and pale greys. Then, incorporate a few pops of traditional patterns, as you see in the rug, bed linens, and floral wall prints. Keep the styling classic and sophisticated, not super busy. And opt for upholstered furniture like the leather bench and tufted headboard. For a contemporary spin, use traditional woods but in sleeker form—like this nightstand and dresser combo.
The Style: Traditional Collector
We love how this bedroom blends traditional interior design with an eclectic style for a cool, curated look. To get this design style in your space, be sure to use plenty of saturated earthy colors, like navy, ochre, and sand—they look great with the traditional style rug and the spindle bed (an iconic piece of traditional furniture). The casual gallery wall with traditional art pieces is a great way to blend these two design style ideas together. And the use of classic woven baskets and layered decor helps further tie the two looks together. For an even more eclectic spin, add layers of texture and color to your design. This will help your space pop with personality!
The Style: Timeless Traditional
This bedroom does a great job of blending classic and traditional interior design into a rich yet approachable space. To get this look, start with a neutral palette and add pops of muted primary colors. Traditional patterns like the wallpaper and Persian style rug help give this room that timeless look, along with elegant forms like the Louis Cane Back dining chair stationed at the desk. Keep the styling polished with finishes like brass, glass objects, and floral arrangements. And for an extra classic spin, keep the space clutter-free and purposeful—no superfluous furniture pieces here. There’s a mix of timeless and antique decor that fits perfectly into a traditional design. We love how this pared-down look gives off an air of luxury but remains minimalist and uncluttered so you can relax into a peaceful space steeped in tradition.
The Style: Stately Traditional
We love this very straightforward traditional design scheme that’s both elevated and elegant. Start with a black and white color palette that’s warmed up with wood tones, staying in line with traditional interior design style choices. The classic secretary style desk gives the room a polished look and there are various types of storage furniture pieces that give the space a true “study” look. Don’t forget, traditional interior design is known for its use of classic stylings like the books and stately office items, so incorporate them into your interior. Traditional style is great for offices, libraries, and studies because it offers a great place to show off your posh tastes and belongings!
Designer Tip: Add some greenery for a lively and organic touch!
The Style: Formal Traditional
This blend of classic and traditional interior design is pure luxury and sophistication. The space uses neutral colors with pops of black for contrast—a daring look that stays in line with classic rules of design. The antique brass details add a classic touch, while the styling on the bookshelf is elegant, simple, and perfectly balanced. The symmetrical layout gives it a formal and sophisticated feel to the interior, perfect for those who like posh styling but still want a living room you can actually feel comfortable having guests relax in.
Designer Tip: Opt for furniture with ornately carved legs or ball-and-claw feet for a truly classic look.
The Style: Traditional With a Coastal Spin
To get this traditional look, start with a neutral color palette—we love the use of soft pinks, beiges, and browns here. Then add in bright pops of colors like blue or green for contrast and personality. The carved wood tables add a classic spin but also feel coastal due to their weathered texture. The conversational layout fits with a traditional interior design style but is also casual and comfortable. And the blue console tables injects a fun and lively feel into the space. For a coastal spin, add natural materials like jute, rattan, sisal, seagrass, and even rope! It’s a great way to create a polished look while still getting the feel of a beachy breeze inside your home.
The Style: Vintage Farmhouse
This dining room offers an elegant take on traditional design with some rustic farmhouse upgrades. It uses a high-contrast color palette with dark greys, blacks, and whites to set the stage. The colors are cohesive, even though they are different styles, so they blend together well. Here, the traditional style furniture has rustic finishes, like the natural and weathered materials, to push the look more farmhouse than formal. Opt for a more formal layout to keep your space in line with a traditional style. This look is great if you love a cozy, farmhouse feel but want a more elevated look.
Designer Tip: Wall color creates drama! Try dark colors, like this moody shade of grey, to give traditional interior design a unique twist.
The Style: Updated Traditional
This living room pairs a mix of transitional and traditional design elements to get a totally unique look. To get this vibe in your space, start with a classic blue and white color palette and warm it up with rich wood tones. We also love how this room uses traditional design patterns, like the rug, mixed in with transitional furniture, like the sectional and coffee table, to create an updated version of traditional interior design. All in all, it’s formal but comfy and casual. For a contemporary spin, use traditional wood tones with more modern forms, like the funky coffee table. This is a great look for those who like a cool, calming vibe for the living room with an air of sophistication.
The Style: Urban Traditional
For a cool, calming take on traditional design, try blending in some industrial elements, as seen in this swanky living room. This style uses a darker, muted palette with plenty of pops of dark blue and green. Traditional patterns like the rug mixed with solid leather upholstery help maintain the formal, sophisticated look. And classic pieces, like the parquet coffee table and tufted leather bench, offer a traditional vibe with an industrial twist. This look is great for those who love traditional design elements but want a more modern, minimalist take on the look.
Designer Tip: Keep your styling simple so the furniture can be the star of the interior.
The Style: Traditional Elegance
This traditional dining room does a great job pairing classic and traditional interior design to create a look that’s elegant but still soft and welcoming. The blue-grey color palette with lots of whites and creams creates an inviting and serene atmosphere. The antique metal chandelier adds and antique/classic feel and the signature Louis cane back dining chair adds extra elegance. The room has a formal vibe with the floral centerpiece and symmetrical layout, making it a great dining room for entertaining guests. It’s just sophisticated enough to make any gathering feel formal, but you can also dress down the styling to make it feel just right for family dinners.
Designer Tip: To keep it a bit more casual feel, opt for weathered wood instead of dark polished wood pieces.
See your exact room designed with traditional style decor!