How to Blend Modern Decor with Traditional Architecture

A common design challenge for contemporary aesthetes living in New England, where it's not uncommon to find homes built in the 1800s and early 1900s: How to blend modern decor with traditional architecture. Many people, fans of minimalist design included, are drawn to the charm and patina of the classic colonials, quaint Cape houses and sprawling Federalist estates that dot the towns throughout the northeast, but that doesn't necessarily mean they want to live in a time capsule, relegated to decorating with formal period antiques. The good news: it is possible to make two worlds meet, and have contemporary, clean-lined decor happily co-extist among crown moulding, ornate ceiling pendants, and weathered, wide-pine floors. Here are a few tips we've learned from decorating and remodeling hundreds of homes in the New England area.

A kitchen design in Wellesley, Mass feels fresh and new while respecting the classic architecture of the home
A kitchen design in Wellesley, Mass feels fresh and new while respecting the classic architecture of the home

Embrace contrast. A home that's entirely made up of modernist furniture and minimalist fixtures can seem cold and uninviting: unless of course it's paired against a backdrop of traditional architecture. The flourishes and details of a historic home will serve as a natural balance to contemporary design.

Tie it together. Of course, you don't want the furnishings and architectural features of your room to look like two disparate halves. To tie opposing styles together, be sure to incorporate elements of each look throughout your home. Add a few shaker-style pieces to your design to incorporate history into a new-age scheme, or dress original colonial grid window panes will simple roman shades.

Use a common color palette. A cohesive color palette can unite a room in a way few other things can. Choosing a tight color scheme and sticking to it is especially important in a transitional room, as it will make the various styles in the space feel unified and deliberate.

Consider modern updates. It's not a crime to replace some of the more "charming" features of your historic home if they simple feel old or dated. The key is to preserve the classic appeal with whatever you replace it with. Many of today's top trends--think a bathroom remodeled with white subway tile on the walls and a black-and-white Victorian tile floor--feel fresh and modern while still maintaining a timeless quality.

Looking to blend the old and the new in your New England home? Let Divine Design Build help. Get in touch with us for a complimentary consultation today.