Bold & Whimsical Traditional Style

I was in a conversation recently in which “traditional” was used interchangeably with “stuffy” and “serious.” I wish I had all my old issues of Domino to fire back in defense, but alas, today’s post will have to suffice. Traditional furnishings can be bold, whimsical, and fresh…all without painting your grandparents’ heirlooms hot pink.

While there are a million ways to make a traditional piece cater to contemporary longings for impact and whimsy, there are three that stand out:

Paint the walls. Yes, yes, you all know that paint is the easiest way to change the look of a room and the furniture within it, but the first picture is such a striking example of the HUGE impact that wall color can make, that I couldn’t help but include it. When upholstery is neutral, the wall color is the single most important factor in dictating the vibe of a room. In the first picture, the curves of the french furniture act as glamorous accents to the bold orange walls— fun refined.
Change the upholstery. This is not the easiest option for DIYs, but it isn’t always as expensive as people may think. I was intrigued when Shannon from Pink Wallpaper told her readers that she had recently discovered that the prison (yes, as in jail cells) whips out quality re-upholstery on the cheap. Regardless of how you do it, a little colorful upholstery goes a long way.
Play with pattern on the walls and accent pieces. Whimsical wall-coverings and vibrantly patterned fabrics can do wonders for freshening the feel of a traditional space. Summer and Josh’s Pumped Up Traditional Chicago home, picture 5, is a wonderful example. Take away the window panels and pillows (and wallpaper panels not pictured in this photo) and this area of the living room would read as almost fully traditional. However, as is the patterns add a vibrant, fresh punch. The same holds true for the well-loved Domino “butterfly room,” where whimsically patterned wall paper enlivens the scheme of traditional bones. A bold rug would have a similar effect too.

What are your favorite tips for refreshing traditional rooms?

Images: 1: Mikael Fürster for Beckers via Emmas Design Blogg, 2, 4: Domino, 3: Metropolitan Home, 5: Janel Laban for Apartment Therapy: Chicago