Top Tips on Mixing Modern and Traditional Furniture

Top Tips on Mixing Modern and Traditional Furniture

Creating a cohesive look in any room is part artistry, part savvy, and all personal style. Few of us are all one thing or another – we have different backgrounds, interests, and comforts – and our homes reflect that. They are, in fact, the one place in the world we get to make entirely our own.

For some of us, that means looking for ways to bring together pieces or aesthetics that are very different from each other, but that we love equally. No two styles are more challenging to combine in a cohesive way than Modern (which is all about sleek and sparse) and Traditional (which is more ornate and thick).

Here are five tips to doing it well while staying true to yourself:

Work from Your Heart

Have a family heirloom or other piece you’ve picked up along the way that you absolutely adore, and is a must have, but is a standout in style? Let this be your starting point.

For example: if an ornate, dark wood sideboard is a permanent fixture; look for a sleek dark wood table to tie in the wood tones and then mix it up with more modern chairs.

Dining room with traditional armoire and modern table and chairs
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Traditional pieces can mix with modern by through complimentary colors
Photo credit: Sean Michael Design via: Houzz

We want to love the places we live in. Making the pieces we love most be the starting place for our design ensures that our heart is the first thing we listen to when putting a room, or our whole house, together.


Create Your Palette

One key to making these two styles work together is having a unified color palette to work from. Get color swatches of your “must haves” (you can use the paint chips from your local hardware store) and then find other colors to round out your personal palette. Modern prefers neutrals and earth tones, traditional loves richer and darker tones. 

Have a bright rug you absolutely love in your bedroom? Get the color swatch(es) for it along with those that match the woods and metals in the room. Lay them out on a board together and select 2-3 that you want to make be your central palette for the room. Choose 1-2 neutral and 1-2 brights/jewels/etc., then start building your look from there.

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Example of a mixed styles bedroom that makes great use of a refined color palette.
Photo credit: DigsDigs

A palette helps with visualizing how the room will come together, and it also helps with decision making because it is an easy thing to carry with you when you go shopping.


Indulge the Contrasts

Bringing these two styles together is an exercise in contrasts from the start, so let yourself indulge that instead of trying to hide it.

Pair fluffy pillows with a sleek sofa. Put a rich rug under a metallic table. Add a tufted footstool next to a mid-century end table.

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Indulging the contrasts of the two styles can make your room a showcase of both.
Photo credit: Cody Ulrich via Elle Decor

Look at each angle as a way to have the yin and yang of these two styles come together.


Bring the Light In

One great way to add an instant modern touch is through changing a light fixture or lamp.

When you’re not in a place to replace larger items but want to put a modern spin on an existing traditional room, changing a light fixture can be a quick touch to add a modern flair to a room that may feel overly traditional.

Traditional living room with a modern lighting fixture
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Adding a modern light fixture is a quick way to create a style mix
Photo credit: Fresh Home

Once you have a start, other pieces can begin to make their way in, replacing your less loved items, as you build your dual style approach over time.


Let Comfort Be King

The trade-off many find difficult in bringing these two styles together is giving up comfort for style. When done right, neither has to be compromised.

Have a comfortable, traditional sofa set you love to cuddle up on? Contrast it with a sleek occasional table or side chairs to add clean lines to the comfort of cushions and soft fabrics.

Living room with traditional cushion couch and modern coffee table
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Keep the comfort of those who will enjoy the space at the forefront.
Photo credit: designskool

When comfort is at the center of your design, you and your visitors alike will feel invited to enjoy your room(s) as a delight in bringing these styles together rather than a design showcase intended to look at but not live in.


While the choices might seem overwhelming, these tips can help you bring these two styles together by keeping your own personal taste as the center of your home every time.

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