The Secret to Mixing Modern and Traditional Decor Styles

Modern and Traditional decor is my jam. I’m a fan of the ornate details and warmth found in traditional furnishings. At the same time, I love the streamlined look found in modern decor. So what do you do with this design dilemma?

Well, the truth is that most people are a mixture of more than one design style. So the key is marrying your various styles together in a way that makes sense.

For some total chaos ensues when trying to do this. And for others, its a breeze. So if you fall in the former category; there is help for you!

So without further ado, let’s take a look at the secret sauce involved with mixing modern and traditional decor.

Secret #1: Mixing modern & Traditional Decor Styles

The architectural elements of a space are the first rules of engagement when deciding to mix modern and traditional styles. This means evaluating whether your room design leans more towards a modern or traditional look.

If your space leans toward 10 foot ceilings, lots of trim and decorative molding and other kinds of ornate details; your room is traditional. On the other hand if your space layout is open and flowing, void of ornamentation, and has an overall clean aesthetic; your home is on the modern spectrum.

However no worries; there’s no right or wrong architectural element! Its really just all about educating oneself on what you’re working with.

Secret #2: Mixing Modern & Traditional Decor Styles

Now just because the architecture of a room may lean to one side more than the other doesn’t mean that you have to also decorate solely in that realm. After all this post is about creating a curated look between the two, right?

Architectural elements aside, you need to determine your decor style. This is where you decide if the room will be either predominately modern or predominately traditional. Why does it have to be one or the other you ask? Because these two design styles cannot be equally balanced. The styles are just too distinct to marry them equally and will result in a sucktacular design.

So the goal is to select the design style you love the most. This will serve as your leading lady. The other will serve as an accent fairy sprinkled sparingly thorough out the room.

Secret #3: Mixing Modern & Traditional Decor Styles

This last principal is subjective; because nailing this look really is an art. A lot of what goes into creating a space that looks effortless is all about the furnishings you choose. Its about choosing furnishings that “speak” to one another both from a design and functionality standpoint. That sounds so hoity toity and cliche but its true!

Let’s examine some beautiful rooms below for inspiration, shall we?

The architectural elements of this room are definitely traditional. This space is quintessential Parisian Chic. The striped English arm sofa fits right in to the traditional setting. However; these elements are paired with the modern coffee table and light fixture both of which are from one of my favorite retail stores, Anthropologie. Throw in that gorgeous wallpaper for a dose of whimsy and color, and you’ve got an effortlessly chic space.

The mixture of metals in the coffee table, the gold and crystal flower chandelier and the abstract art in the gallery wall provide a modern and contemporary vibe. The Chesterfield, while known as one of the most popular traditional style sofas, looks a bit more contemporary thanks to that raspberry color.


Aside from the architectural details, this space is styled with modern furnishings. However; if you wanted to add classic elements, traditional art in gilded frames and a large oriental rug would be nice accents.

Are your creative juices flowing yet? No? Alright below is one other thing to consider when mixing modern and traditional decor. This one is a biggie…

I do believe there are some decor furnishings that are transitional in nature that could bode well in either a modern or traditional space. These items are timeless and are a great foundation to consider when creating your curated look.

Abstract art

Traditional art (but sparingly in a modern space).

Modern coffee tables

Oriental rugs

Natural rugs


Ornate Mirrors

Modern lighting

Traditional lighting (but sparingly in a modern space).

And because I know you still may need a little extra help with this idea, I’ve included a little graphic that you can pin for reference later if you like!