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Posts Tagged ‘traditional style’

British Colonial Style for the Dining Room

Friday, February 18th, 2011

The Brits, especially during the height of Queen Victoria’s 63-year reign when her vast empire was spread over several continents, were ardent travelers and explorers. This is richly evident in the British Colonial style dining room where eclectic, exciting and inviting elements work together, resulting in furniture that is diversely sophisticated. Since British Colonial style celebrates tropical influences and travel to exotic places, this décor style is sure to add a little spice to the room where you spend time with your family and friends.

Color and Texture

Because of the many cultural influences that affected life in the British Colonies, colors were rich and vibrant. But they are usually reserved for the fabrics of upholstered dining room furniture, curtains, area rugs and accessories. Using a variety of bold animal prints and brightly colored fabrics is what makes this style so visually textured and exciting.

When decorating a British Colonial style dining room, color palettes for the walls are quieter and more subtle. Select muted shades of berry, forest, sky or sea. Cool-hued pale yellows and soft reds are also ideal. Should you choose to go the neutral route, use deeper shades as opposed to lighter ones to avoid a “washed out” look.

British Colonial Style Dining Furniture

When British subjects were sent on behalf of Queen Victoria to conduct business, govern territories or protect the empire’s interests in colonial regions like the West Indies, India and East Africa, they of course entertained royals, heads of state and prominent military leaders. Though the dining room or banquet area was dressed to impress, British Colonial dining furniture displayed more relaxed, regional influences while still retaining the formal beauty and dignity of Victorian furnishings.

British Colonial style dining room furniture, usually made from tropical woods like ebony, mahogany and teak is distinguished by rich finishes, either polished or distressed. Typical features of British Colonial style dining tables and dining chairs are curvaceous profiles, sweeping curved lines and relaxed decorative detail. Chair backs, tabletops or tables often had cane, rattan or bamboo insets. Decorative detail could include tropical motifs like shells, botanicals and animal prints. These features would also apply to other dining furniture pieces like buffets and sideboards.

Accessorizing British Colonial Style

It might seem counter-intuitive, but heavier fabrics were used for curtains, essentially to keep out the tropical heat. Swag curtains with ornate valances were commonly used for window treatments while fabrics used for the curtains often included gold thread while tie-backs were made of braided and/or tasseled cords. Another option is to select shutters – they were also a popular way in British Colonies to keep out the heat and the damaging effects of the sun.

British Colonial style dining room accessories could include heavy candlesticks made of wood or brass placed on the dining table or the buffet; a sisal area rug underneath the dining set; hurricane lamps or hurricane style sconces; one or two potted plants in oversized Oriental ceramic planters, or tall case goods like a china cabinet or a curio cabinet.

Come back next Friday when I start a new 3-part style series called Contemporary Loft Furniture Ideas.

British Colonial Style for the Living Room

Friday, February 11th, 2011

A British Colonial style living room has an appeal and allure that comes from exploring and spending time in exotic lands. While still retaining some of the flamboyance and opulence of the Victorian style, British Colonial living room furniture is noticeably smaller in scale, especially furnishings like the sofa, an armoire or a curio cabinet. The secret to a successful British Colonial living room décor is to mix polished woods with cool, light colored fabrics.

Color and Texture

Start with a cool color palette of green or blue or cooler toned yellows or reds; ones that are pastel or muted – you don’t want anything too bright. Deeper shades of earth toned colors are also good choices.

Plan to add texture wherever you can, but keep it balanced and sophisticated. Simple ways to give a décor a textured appearance is to pile the sofa with accent pillows in different fabrics and patterns; select a window treatment that uses two or more types of material; and place a botanical patterned, animal skin print or sisal area rug on the floor.

British Colonial Style Living Room Furniture

Living room furniture made of woods like mahogany, teak and tropical wood veneers is right at home in a British Colonial style living room. End tables, the coffee table, a console table and an accent chest often include exotic influences like shell motifs, cane accents or animal print insets or tabletops. For finishes you can choose shiny (polished) or “dull” (matte or distressed); if you want to include both, select mostly polished furnishings but add one or two distressed accent pieces to create visual interest (or vice versa).

Accessorizing British Colonial Style

Accessorizing British Colonial style is relatively easy; simply layer textures upon textures. Place a bamboo framed accent chair next to a traditional neutral fabric sofa with plenty of accent cushions in different materials. Include handmade wood candlesticks; a table lamp with a brocade shade in bold colors; an upholstered chair or ottoman in woven fabrics of natural materials.

Come back next Friday for British Colonial Style part 3 when I will be discussing how to create a traditional dining room with those little exotic touches that are visually stunning.

British Colonial Style for the Bedroom

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Like many interior design styles, British Colonial style has its regional distinctions. Largely due to the fact that it evolved over a period of roughly a century and touches most continents, this style, while firmly rooted in traditional design principles and certain, distinct traditions, has many faces. The look we often readily associate with British Colonial is the eclectic appearance of bedroom furniture that arose from the active colonization period of the some of the islands in the Caribbean during Queen Victoria’s reign. But we mustn’t underestimate the influences other exotic locales like India, China and East Africa brought to bear on British Colonial style. No matter; whatever regional emphasis you choose, British Colonial style is ideal for the bedroom because of its lavish, exotic nature.

Color and Texture

In the Old Country where Victorian style held sway, colors were heavy and rich. But once in the Caribbean or in the Orient, walls were typically painted lighter colors. Softly hued walls made the perfect backdrop for the richly embroidered fabrics of India or China; the floral patterns of the Caribbean islands or exotic organic elements like wicker, rattan, antlers, zebra prints, coral and shell. When painting a British Colonial style bedroom, select gentle shades of the sea, the forest, the sun and the desert.

British Colonial Style Bedroom Furniture

The occasional bedroom furniture piece made of metal or one that has metalwork accents is perfectly acceptable. However to get the look, British Colonial style furniture, especially the bed, is made of wood. Since they were so far from home, local woods were used instead. British Colonial bedroom furniture is typically made of tropical woods such as mahogany and teak with dark, rich finishes. Because the expatriates were often moved from posting to posting, furniture pieces were smaller in scale and tended to be lighter in weight than their Victorian counterparts. British Colonial style furniture might have been scaled down, but decorative detail was still lush and ornate, while profiles consisted of sweeping and curvy lines. Case goods like armoires, dressers and nightstands often included cane insets, louvered doors or panels or bamboo accents.

Accessorizing British Colonial Style

Use botanical prints for fabrics for bed benches, curtains, bedding sets and upholstered occasional chairs. Accessories for a British Colonial style bedroom are sophisticated and can incorporate travel-related items such as trunks, suitcases or sepia photographs in burnished metal or cast iron frames. You can also incorporate objets de arte that reflect the flavor and customs of the region like drums, pottery pieces or brass hurricane lamps. Table lamps often have tropical motifs like pineapples, palm leaves and sea shells.

A British Colonial style bedroom is the ultimate in luxury, with its hint of adventure and the trace of tropical sea breezes. Come back next Friday for British Colonial Style part 2.

Lavish Traditional Style for your Bedroom

Friday, January 28th, 2011

The bedroom is the one room of your home that should be as luxurious and indulgent as you want it to be. Those little flourishes typical to traditional bedroom furniture such as bun feet, cabriole legs, scrollwork, pilasters and ornate brass or carved pulls are right at home in a bedroom environment designed to pamper and renew you. While grand, formal or stately (or all of the above), opulent traditional style layered for function as well as for show can be comfortable and comforting in its lavishness.

Set the Stage

This is the bedroom we’re talking about! Any type of traditional style bedroom furniture that you choose will provide enough “drama” in the space. Keep the walls neutral, earth-toned or tranquilly pastel hues of heritage shades such as damask, rose, jade or delft blue.

Traditional Style Bedroom Furniture

Traditional style bedroom furniture has a timeless, comforting appeal because it is typically crafted from woods that have rich finishes,  either polished (shiny) or distressed (matte). There is something about a traditional style armoire, poster bed, lingerie chest or storage blanket chest that is sumptuous in a charming Old World sort of way. It is the elaborate detail – a shell motif, an inset medallion, carved pilasters, fluid decorative molding – that inspires one to hand these bedroom furniture pieces down through the generations because they possess the look and feel of heirlooms. Some traditional sub styles such as Queen Anne, Chippendale, Sheraton and Victorian have an undeniably romantic sensibility which is ideal for a lavish traditional style bedroom design.

Accessorizing Lavish Traditional Style

Go with as many extras as will fit the space. A well-placed accent chair will add functionality (a place to sit when putting on shoes) and luxury (a place to sit and read or meditate).

Anywhere there is fabric involved, it should be as lavish as you can afford. Select bedding sets with a high thread count for a soft, luxurious place to sleep.

Pile on those pillows – using accent pillows not only will make the bed more comfortable, it also adds texture to the room’s focal point (the bed), especially when they are made from different types of material.

Make your window treatments stand out with fabrics such as silks or brocades that include gold thread.

Come back next Friday when I start a new 3-part style series called British Colonial Style.

Lavish Traditional Style for your Living Room

Friday, January 21st, 2011

A lavish, opulent and imposing traditional style living room is an attractive and timeless place you and your family will want to spend time. Since a living room should be a place to relax, watch TV or enjoy an evening entertaining friends, it might seem counter-intuitive to use a traditional interior design to decorate this type of living space. But there is some about traditional living room furniture that reflects Old World design principles that are classic and enduring.

Set the Stage

The bolder the color palette of the walls and accessories the more lavish your traditional style living room will feel. Select a wall color or wallpaper pattern that will provide a dramatic backdrop to richly-toned wood accent tables, end tables and sofas. If you prefer softer shades, choose richer hues of classic neutrals such as beige, cream or silver paired with a bold colored accent wall. Another option is to paint the living room a neutral color, but wallpaper one wall as an accent point in the living room.

Traditional Style Living Room Furniture

Traditional style living room furniture should, of course, be made of woods such as walnut, teak, mahogany and palissander. Finishes are typically medium to dark in color and can be highly polished, distressed or anywhere in between. When selecting traditional style living room furniture with a lavish look and feel, focus on traditional sub styles such as Queen Anne, Sheraton, Chippendale or French Provencal. If you don’t want to stick to just one traditional sub style, simply pick furniture pieces like end tables, a coffee table or a console table that is typically opulent and elaborately decorated with detailed carvings, motifs and intricate scrollwork. For a truly luxurious look, choose a leather sofa with overstuffed rolled arms and tufted upholstery.

Lavish Traditional Style Accessorizing

To create a lavish traditional style atmosphere, when accessorizing you will want to add enough “layers” for visual effect or texture while still keeping the living room sophisticated yet “uncluttered.”

Window treatments that possess the formal look created by heavy panel curtains paired with sheers and a valance would not be out of place in a traditional style living room. For that extra luxurious feel choose materials like brocades, velvets or silks.

Another automatic place to pile on the luxury is the sofa (or any other kind of seating including accent chairs or club chairs) by selecting accent pillows in different materials. To really mix it up, throw some cushions made from nubby materials or with a “raised” pattern.

Select accessories like candlesticks, vases and decorative bowls with gold trim and/or detailing.

 Come back next Friday for Lavish Traditional Style part 3 when I will be discussing how to create a luxuriously indulgent bedroom environment.

Lavish Traditional Style for your Dining Room

Friday, January 14th, 2011

Over the years, the formal dining room has been replaced by more casual style eating areas like breakfast bars, breakfast nooks and opening design multipurpose living spaces. But some of us like the idea of entertaining friends or spending time with family around a dining table. Lavish traditional style creates a dramatic dining room setting that possesses a formal yet timeless elegance. It is all about rich woods, sophisticated profiles and ornate decoration that textures the room in layers of Old World charm. When you design a traditional style dining room for your home and select traditional dining furniture, you are embracing a European flair will cherish today and want to pass along to future generations.

Set the Stage

To create a lavish traditional style dining room, start with the walls. Colors should be bold, deeper shades of red, pink, blue and green like burgundy, rose, royal blue and emerald green. If your formal dining room is part of an open design floor plan or you are not a fan of bold colors, choose richer hues of neutrals such as grey, silver, white and taupe.

If you really want to go all out formal, opt for an elegantly patterned wallpaper design. Should wallpapering all four walls not appeal to you, consider using it on one accent wall.

Window treatments are made from brocades, velvets or silks. For even more “drama” pair a set of curtains with a valance and sheers for a luxuriously formal look.

Traditional Style Dining Furniture

Traditional style furniture for your lavish dining room should be suitably impressive and typically crafted from wood or wood veneers. If you are a traditional style aficionado, select a sub style that is know for its elaborate decoration such as Baroque, Rococo, Renaissance or Victorian. If you wouldn’t know Queen Anne from Jacobean, you don’t really have to – simply pick traditional style furniture that is pleasing to you while including plenty of curvy lines and decorative details.

There’s formal, and then there’s formal. Choose the shape of your dining table to create the lavish atmosphere that best suits your personality. A rectangular dining table will have a stylized formal appeal while a round dining table projects a casual sophistication while still being classically traditional.

When you purchase dining chairs separately for your traditional dining table, make sure that they match the table’s decorative detail and the color and texture of the finish (matte finished chairs for a matte finish table or highly polished chairs with a table that has a high sheen).

A lavish, opulent and imposing traditional style dining room is attractive and timeless place you and your family will want to spend time. Come back next Friday for Lavish Traditional Style part 2.

The Great Escape – Decorating a Traditional Style Bedroom

Friday, November 5th, 2010

There is something about a traditional style bedroom that is lushly dramatic, grandiose and regal. But there is also something very comforting and soothingly luxurious about a bedroom with traditional furnishings. Lines are richly curved and scrolled; decorative detail displays flourishes and motifs; and designs incorporate shapes and forms to create textures. A traditional style bedroom that is romantically reminiscent of a bedroom that belonged to a queen or king in the1700s or 1800s gives the room a sense of historical tradition and timelessness that will provide a great escape from hectic, everyday life.

Look Around

When choosing what to do with the walls in your traditional style bedroom, don’t summarily write-off wallpaper. Wallpaper is making a comeback, and especially for a traditional bedroom with a royal feel, it will lend the room a palpable texture that is visually rich.

Whether you opt to wallpaper or paint, colors should be muted. Avoid bright oranges and reds, including saturated hues, as they will give the room a modern rather than traditional vibe. Soft or less intense shades of jewel or berry tones such as jade or strawberry are ideal choices for a traditional Victorian style bedroom.

Look Up

In order for your traditional bedroom to be a great escape from your busy day, choose lighting that will give you options to shed a soft glow or to shine bright. A chandelier on a dimmer switch would be ideal. In keeping with the grand royal statement that traditional style makes, choose one that has elegantly shaped teardrop crystals or strings of crystal beads. For bedside table lamps, select bases that are ornately detailed with richly textured shades.

Look Down

Since wood plays an important role in traditional design, hardwood flooring in a medium to dark finish is a perfectly acceptable choice. To add texture and visual interest, as well as a little more comfort, select a reproduction oriental rug or one that has an intricate traditional style pattern like damask or paisley. Small floral patterned area rugs would also work in a traditional style bedroom.

Traditional Style Bedroom Furniture

Traditional style furniture can be stately, formal and impressive. But grandiose becomes comfortable and inviting when the color of the wood is warm. Selecting traditional bedroom furniture with a distressed finish will lend the décor a more lived in look while furnishings with a high polish will possess a more sophisticated appeal.

Woods commonly used to make traditional bedroom furniture are walnut, mahogany, teak and cherry. Case goods like the dresser, nightstands and armoire should include intricately designed hardware; shell, scroll and flora motifs and/or carved accents or inlays.

Traditional style bedding has a luxurious appearance that is guaranteed to guard against a winter chill.

Come back next Friday for the second part of the Great Escape, where we’ll explore transitional style for a bedroom sanctuary.

Inspiration from the Tropics for a Master Bedroom

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

For many of us, the bedroom is the one room of the house where we physically and mentally shut the door on a busy world that constantly demands our time and attention. The master bedroom especially should be a retreat that will relax, refresh and revive you. Don’t let space and your budget, (or lack thereof), stop you from designing the master bedroom that you deserve. There are ways to create the look of a luxury tropical resort without spending a lot of cash. When decorating a master bedroom, the overall look should be tranquil, comfortable and luxurious, so taking inspiration from the tropics makes perfect sense.

Traditional style as adapted by colonists, particularly British colonists of the Victorian Empire is the perfect example of how tropical materials and motifs were incorporated into bedroom furniture construction and design for a look that spells the ultimate in style and sophistication. The Tommy Bahama Home Island Estate Barbados 3 Drawer Chest brings a tropical feel into the bedroom interior design through the use of leather wrapped carved wood posts made to resemble bamboo. The lamp has a woven rattan shade, a common material found in tropical areas of the globe. It’s the little details that add up to a master bedroom that will be your own personal tropical retreat.

In a master bedroom, the bed will be the natural focal point of the room. Popular choices when choosing a bed for you master bedroom are the four poster bed, the canopy bed or the sleigh bed. Because of their imposing and commanding profiles – soaring posts for the poster and canopy beds, a covered frame top or draperies for the canopy bed and the sinuous “S” curves of the sleigh bed panels – any one of these types of beds will provide the perfect stage for layers of pillows and accent cushions in exotic fabrics silks and brocades. Ditto for when choosing bedding to dress the bed. Bedding and upholstered accent chairs or bed benches can also include exotic animal prints.

For a master bedroom to be inspired by the tropics, bedroom furniture should be constructed of tropical woods such as teak, mahogany and ebony or have rich, medium to dark finishes. Case goods like dressers, bachelor chests and nightstands commonly include pineapple motifs, faux bamboo posts and cane or rattan panels. Bedroom furniture accent pieces, including bed benches and armoires, can have louvered or open lattice doors or accents. Do you ever dream of retiring to your own tropical island? Well, just open the door to your bedroom.

Making a Royal Statement – Traditional Style with a Twist for the Dining Room

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Transforming your home into your own stylish castle is not difficult. Start with traditional style furniture that was popular during the reign of a certain king or queen like Queen Anne, Victorian or Louis Philippe; add a palette of royal colors that include, of course, rich reds, purples and golds; and accessorize royally with heavy silver candles and brass table lamp bases, pictures in oversized gold gilt or elaborately carved wood frames and objets d’art. Today in part three of our series, we’ll discuss how to create a dining room that makes a royal statement.

Royal Palette

When choosing a color palette, think of the Victorian era, palaces and formal, courtly spaces. Colors (shown here from Behr) are jewel-toned, with rich, deep tints. Mix paint with wallpaper. There are three basic options when considering using both paint and wallpaper: paper one wall and paint the rest; paper half the walls, paint the other half and separate the two with decorative molding like a chair rail; or paint the walls and apply a border around the room. When making a royal statement in your dining room, select wallpaper with paisley, diamond or damask patterns.

Queen Anne

Queen Anne style furniture actually became more common in the period following this monarch’s death in 1714 rather than during her reign. In British Colonies, particularly the American colonies, Queen Anne gained popularity throughout the Colonial period, roughly from the 1720s to the 1750s. The Trump Home Westchester Irvington 9 Piece Rectangular Dining Table Set in Medium Brown definitely displays Queen Anne sensibilities, particularly the dining chairs, with their yoke-shaped top rails and urn-shaped back splats.

Display your formal dinner set and tableware in true royal style with the American Drew Cherry Grove Breakfront China Cabinet. While broken pediments weren’t used by Queen Anne style cabinetmakers, they did make an appearance in later revival periods and in reproductions.


Victorian style furniture is very impressive, typically made of mahogany, walnut and teak with rich, luxurious finishes, while not highly polished, do possess a high sheen or “glow.” Dining room furniture pieces are highly decorative, with elaborate detail such as lavish, intricate wood carvings or very stylized metalwork scrolls. The use of botanical motifs, like the acanthus leaf, was especially popular during Victorian times.

Victorian dining tables, as demonstrated by the beautiful Tommy Bahama Home Kingstown Bonaire Round Dining Table were typically round with a pedestal base. Again, in keeping with Victorian design principals, the larger and more elaborately carved the better.

And the same naturally applies to the accompanying dinging chairs. Note that the Kathy Ireland by Standard Contemporary Nottingham Epic Chippendale Side Chair sports an acanthus leaf motif.

Since the Victorians loved to entertain – the length of an average Victorian dinner was about three hours – the sideboard or buffet played an important role in Victorian homes. The Steve Silver Harmony Buffet & Hutch asl includes the acanthus leaf motif.

Louis Philippe

Emerging from the French Restoration period, Louis Philippe furniture, like the Tradewins French Classics Dining Arm Chair has less ornamentation and lines are smoother and more rounded.

As during the Restoration Period, Louis Philippe dining room furniture was made of dark woods like mahogany, walnut and palissander. Although today, other woods like cherry used in the construction of the Tradewins French Classics Dining Table, are used as well.

If a traditional style of furniture could be “contemporary” this style is it, as evidenced by the Tradewins French Classics Dining Buffet with Hutch. Because it displays standard Louis Philippe characteristics like a simple pedestal base with bracket feet and the lack of decorative motifs, this china cabinet definitely could be mistaken for contemporary.

Come back for a visit next Friday when I’ll be starting a new series about the different faces of modern style.

Making a Royal Statement – Traditional Style with a Twist for the Living Room

Friday, February 12th, 2010

Today in part two of our series, we’ll discuss how to create a regal looking living room that will be fit for royalty – and you and your family too. Window treatments should be made of richly draped fabrics such as velvets and damasks. Accent pillows and cushions will have gold braid and gold tassels. Area rugs are opulently patterned in classic Oriental style. Grand and stately, all the living room furniture in the room should be traditional style pieces that are oversized and impressive, designed to make a statement with their stunning presence. It’s all about creating a space that possesses timeless beauty combined with contemporary functionality.

Royal Colors

Royal Living

The two colors most closely associated with royalty are purple and red. Any tone of these two colors will you’re your living a luxurious feel. Jewel shades such as ruby, jade, sapphire, amethyst, topaz and emerald are also good choices for a traditional style living room, especially one with a Victorian ambience. Deep, muted shades (from Benjamin Moore) are the best for emphasizing the sumptuous wood finishes of the traditional furniture made of mahogany, walnut, teak or cherry.

Royal Furniture

Generally, when choosing living room furniture for your castle or palace, select traditional sub styles that have a royal ring like Queen Anne, Louis Philippe and Victorian. The most recognizable features of Queen Anne style furniture cabriole legs, the pad foot and shell or fan carvings. Victorian style furniture is typically opulent, “heavy” and lavishly decorated with detailed carvings and intricate scrollwork. Louis Philippe style furniture is distinguished by pedestal bases, bracket feet, do decorative motifs and smooth lines with rounded profiles.

The Office Star Queen Ann Traditional Blood Sofa has the signature cabriole legs, rounded back and delicately rolled arms.

If you prefer the dramatic and ornate styling of Victorian furniture, choose the Distinction Leather Tufted Chesterfield Leather Sofa. It possesses classic, oversized rolled arms, tufted upholstery and bun feet.

The Distinction Leather Tufted Chesterfield Leather Sofa has the framed, “squared-off” profile characteristic of the Louis Philippe style.

The American Drew Bob Mackie Nutmeg Coffee and End Table Set definitely displays Queen Anne sensibilities, with its cabriole legs and fan motif carvings.

Should you wish to add a bookcase in the Louis Philippe style to your living room, the Louis Philippe Cherry Bookcase perfectly demonstrates cabinetry set on a pedestal base with bracket feet. Note the rounded corners of the molding.

No contemporary home can be without a TV. Give your home theater or entertainment center a touch of royalty Victorian style with the Parker House Grandview Deluxe X-pandable Plasma Entertainment Center.

Accessorizing Royally

Especially if you have chosen Victorian style for your royal living room, Victorians are well-known for their penchant for excessive accessorizing: in a well-appointed Victorian parlor, literally ever surface would be covered by doilies, embroidered runners, figurines, heavy brass or silver candlesticks and ornately decorated lamps. Large portraits or landscapes in elaborately carved wood frames would decorate the walls. However, luxurious accessorizing, although not to quite the extent as in a Victorian style living room, also applies to Queen Anne and Louis Philippe styles. When making a royal statement, layer the room’s look by including different textured fabrics; don’t forget to mix nubbed wools, course tweeds, embroidered seat cushions and accent pillows with velvets and brocades in reds purples and dark greens.

Come back next week when we will be discussing how to design a traditional style dining room that will definitely make a royal impression.

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