New Traditional style

Blend treasured antiques, modern gems, thrift store deals and big-box warehouse staples to create a personal, fresh, timeless space.

My lovely friend Lisa (whom I haven’t seen enough of this summer!) suggested  a post topic about her shifting design tastes. You see, not long ago like many of us, she was seduced into the modern look, very Dwell. Clean lines. Open. Expansive windows. Simplicity. So serene and beautiful.




As time went on, however, Lisa grew to appreciate her traditional home with its hard worn and hard wood floors, crown moulding, quirks and creaks: “My tastes are definitely changing as the years go by. I want to embrace the traditional architecture of our house and accentuate it, not fight it. But modern pieces still appeal to me. So how do I decorate a room – say my living room – with traditional pieces?”

I can relate to this. We tried full-on modern in my own decorating style. And it was great. A huge island, no walls. It was spacious and so conducive to parties – but where to hide the dirty dishes, store stuff and hang art on the wall?


Our old kitchen.


Now, don’t get me wrong, if I could have two houses – I would surely want one of them to look like this – especially if it had a view in Southern California.


Photo from Dwell
Photo from Dwell


But the other home I would want, the one we have now, is a blend of styles and it is rich and warm and fresh at the same time. New Traditional is the New Black and the comfort-craving are embracing it. Even hipster online inspiration destination Apartment Therapy has been embracing New Traditional.


Photo Lonny via Apartment Therapy
Photo Lonny via Apartment Therapy


Photo The City Sage via Apartment Therapy
Photo The City Sage via Apartment Therapy


My interpretation of  New Traditional is to blend treasured antiques, modern gems, thrift store deals and big-box warehouse staples to create a very personal space that respects the home’s provenance but is infused with a freshness that reflects how we live today.


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The game changer in our living room was painting everything out white – yes, even the fireplace mantle. Add texture with a sisal rug, put colour and fun fabric on antique furniture, add modern art and statement lighting. And there you have it, New Traditional.


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Our new kitchen. Photos by Per Kristiansen

Go ahead, embrace old school, with a twist.


Live beautifully,






  • Thank you for another inspirational, and informative, post! I think we’re overdue for a coffee or glass of wine to discuss decorating (and to get caught up!). Thanks Cynthia!

    • Long overdue – so much to catch up on: children, food and decorating – what better conversation topics? (maybe husbands).

  • Love your floor lamps as as an owner of a postwar ranch bungalow with 8 foot ceilings, I’m finding good light for my living room challenging without lots of little tables, which make the place look cluttered. Can you tell me where you got these? Also have been looking for a very textural natural rug and I love the braid in yours. Again, where did you get your rug? Thanks. LOVE your look & your blog

    • Hi Kelly, Thanks so much for your kind words. I agree, there’s never eough light, especially in older homes. The standing lights are from UpCoutnry in Toronto – I don’t know if they still carry them as we’ve had them for ages. The rug is from Pottery Barn. Hope you find what you need and thanks again for commenting.

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