Unexpected Decor Mix: The Unconventional Classic

Unexpected Decor Mix: The Unconventional Classic

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Carolyn Purnell
Mar 31, 2015
(Image credit: Love is Speed)

Sometimes in the way we conceptualize decor, there can be a push-pull relationship between classic and unconventional. But many of the most successful spaces mix these two sides of the spectrum. Unconventional elements can make a more traditional room seem alive, while classic elements can make an unconventional room seem livable. Here are some sample spaces that execute this balance well, and here's why they work.

(Image credit: Domaine)

In this room, photographed by Sarah Sweeney for Domaine Home, the contemporary architecture is balanced out by a neutral palette and a muted, traditional rug, which keep the space looking refined and classic. Trendy elements like mudcloth and the ivory juju hat (although traditional in their own right) give the room a current look. Chrome and brass add an unexpected element of shine to the room, and while many of the individual elements are fairly classic, when put together, they offer an unexpected mixture that makes for an original, relaxed room.


In this traditional kitchen by Los Angeles Tile, Stone & Countertops (featured on Houzz), Almost every element is classic, with the exception of the countertop color. Even if lavender Caesarstone isn't your preferred option, this example shows how simple it is to bring a traditional kitchen into the modern world. All you have to do is to add one unexpected element. The combination of traditional shapes with an unexpected color often can have surprisingly modern results.


(Image credit: House Beautiful)

In Robert Passal's modern Miami apartment, featured in House Beautiful, the traditional and the unconventional mix quite easily. In the bedroom, classic toile and a Dominique Ingrès print grace the walls, while a bubble chandelier cleanly floats above, heralding the modern era. A punctuated dose of lime green and yellow add a bit of vibrancy to the otherwise consistent color palette. In the bathroom, the refined, cool cleanliness of the marble tiling is juxtaposed with the daring chaos of an abstract painting. And practicality aside, we can probably all agree that the painting's placement above the bathtub is certainly unconventional.

(Image credit: Curbed DC)

In this 350 square-foot studio apartment (House Beautiful via Curbed DC), designer Matthew Bees beautifully mixes the classic with the unconventional. Emerald isn't the color that you'd usually expect in a home this small, but the vivid walls (and ceiling!) transform give the space the feeling of a warm, inviting hug. Acrylic mingles with more traditional furniture pieces, and while you would usually expect to see drapery in a traditional space, Bees insisted on using fitted winder liners in order to save space.

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