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Creating a Modern Transitional Space :: Create a Modern Feel Using Traditional Elements


Creating a modern space with traditional elements keeps your home comfortable and homey. This transitional style ensures that your space will be classic and elegant. While trends may change, themes remain the same. The lines are simple, colors neutral and warmth is created through the use of light.

– Furniture Lines and Style

For the most part, furniture in this style will have clean, straight lines. On occasion, a curve will be tossed in to keep things interesting. This style of furniture strikes the perfect balance between manly and frilly. The size of the furniture is moderate, so it fills a space without overwhelming it. Colors are neutral and soft.

– Walls

Walls should be matte and neutral. A light beige or soft gray are always popular choices. These colors can be matched with anything and provide a calming feeling. These colors also help to enhance the glow from lighting. Warm colors can also work. For example, having chocolate brown cabinet doors with neutral walls and furniture adds a cozy feeling.

– Floors

Wood floors are a primary staple when mixing modern and traditional design. Carpeting can be used as long as the colors are neutral, but wood gives the space a more natural feel. Wood is also easier to keep clean, so this is a definite plus. Tiles can also be used, as long as they are neutral and warm. Tile works well in every room, not just the kitchen and bathroom.

– Metals

Brushed nickel is contemporary and classic at the same time. It shines without being overly shiny. Shinier metals can be used, but should only be a small accent piece.

– Natural Elements

Bringing nature into a space is a major factor in transitional design. Wood floors and furniture pieces, and granite countertops are easy and classic ways to bring the outdoors in. When using wood, leaving it unfinished and raw can increase the personality of the space.

– Window Treatments

Window treatments should be simple, modest and a solid color. The rod used to hang them should be simple as well. A matte black or brushed nickel rod are always good choices. Curtain panels should be straight and sleek. If blinds are used, a woven-wood or Roman shade are modern, yet traditional.

– Understated Accessories

Every room needs accessories, but these should never be the focal point. Vases with simple shapes, photo frames with clean lines, books and small, single-color statues always work. A room should only have a few of each of these, as they should never overwhelm a tabletop or bookshelf. The elements should also be mixed together. For example, put a few books on the coffee and side tables, as well as on the bookshelf. On the same thought, place a few picture frames and single statue on the bookcase to mix things up.

– Lighting

A light fixture can be a focal point in any room. Going for a large iron hanging light or a contemporary chandelier in a brushed nickel adds sophistication and warmth to any room. Make sure that the height of all hanging lights is right. For example, hanging lights in a kitchen will be higher than a hanging light directly over a dining room table. Lamps should be understated and match the room’s color scheme and lines.

Editor’s Note: To read more on Lighting, see our Lighting category here.

– Flow of the Home

Your home should carry the major elements throughout. For example, use the same materials and colors in each room. The tones and colors can differ a bit, but the changes in color and materials should not be drastic. This is especially important with an open floor plan. With fabrics, the textures can vary, but the colors should be similar throughout your home.


Editor’s Note: Jillian Watkinson writes for Community Home Supply. They sells home supplies—everything from kitchen faucets to unique bath tubs! In her free time, she enjoys tending to her backyard garden.

For more on the Transitional Style, see notes from the panel discussion – Ten Looks for Less. HGTV, too, provides a nice overview here in Examining the Transitional Style. ~jb


* Photo Credits (in order)

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