How to Quickly Update a Traditional Interior Design Home

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Marina Klima Design. Traditional Italian Inspired Living Room side view

If you mention Traditional Interior design decorating, I immediately see the images of my grandmother’s twenty-five piece the same color dark wood dining room, making me cringe. Now imagine the same room but only with solid color simple panels, less white moldings, upholstered chairs with modern, understated patterns,s and a simple chandelier instead of crystals. Better? I thought so too.

See, you can make any traditional or classic room look updated if you know the decorating rules and how to break them.

a woman in the woods

But if you don’t know the rules, it’s like stepping foot into the forest without a map. You will surely get lost. 

The same is true about decorating your home. You can mix and match to break the rules, but save time and money and get a general idea about the main styles first. Then you’ll have more fun and feel more confident.

Understanding the Traditional Interior Design and Decorating Style

Whether you are drawn to this style or can’t care less, Traditional Interior Design and decorating styles are the basics of any decorating style. The traditional style is like an ocean with many streams and rivers flowing into it.  If you take a closer look at Modern Farmhouses,  New Traditional, Transitional, Coastal, French Country, Shabby Chic, and Bohemian, they are all rooted in the Traditional style.

Italian style traditional interior living room
Marina Klima Design. Traditional Italian living room. Front view

How to Create Classic Traditional Interior Design Style Living Room

Above is the living room I designed in the Italian Traditional Style. The client chose it because she wanted a timeless look and hated to be dependent on trends. If you love antiques, classic art pieces, and symmetry, this style is also for you.  As you can see, symmetry is important. Almost everything comes in pairs creating a balanced space around the fireplace.


  • The main feature is 18th and 19th-century European influence
  • Symmetrical sofas
  • Crown moldings, columns, wood paneling, and tray or coffered ceilings.
  • Curved chair backs and feet, claw feet, carved wood 
  • Hardwood floors with rich accents are a staple of this style
  • Fabrics are refined, such as velvet, silk, damask, and brocade  
  • Classic and aged mirrors
  • Window treatments with valances and swags
  • A variety of toss pillows
  • Area rugs in classic styles
  • Rich color palettes 


  • Candleholders, china, classic lamps, and shades
  • Window treatments often with valances and swags
  • Accessories: a variety of toss pillows, elaborate style of lamps and chandeliers, floral arrangements, framed portraits, and classic landscapes.
  • Area rugs in classic styles are a must-have in a traditional home décor


  • Showcase old or antique china 
  • Hang chandeliers
  • Use wood flooring
  • Display aged mirrors and artwork
  • Hang elegant curtains
  • Use antique or reproduction furniture 
  • Adorn the room with crown moldings
  • Introduce wall paneling
  • Place classic wool rugs 
traditional bedroom with blue walls
Marina Klima design. Traditional bedroom

How to Create Classic Traditional Interior Design Style Bedroom

Above is the master bedroom I designed for one of my favorite clients. It boasts fully custom bedding, draperies as well as original artwork on the walls. 


  • Introduce lamps, chandeliers, and elegant candle holders 
  • Toss beautiful accent pillows with embellishments
  • Custom bedding and window treatments 
  • Use columns and white moldings 
  • Hang draperies with tassels and trims
  • Install classic artwork, such as landscapes
  • Put oriental rugs on the floor 
  • Use neutral or pale wall colors
  • Hang lighter fabric drapery panels instead of heavy draperies
  • Use modern furniture that is classic and not fussy 
  • Incorporate traditional elements 
  • Use solid color upholstery
  • Incorporate more geometric shapes
  • Get rid of clutter, this look is very clean and streamlined
  • Decorate with large-scale vases 

Update a Traditional Room with Color

The above photo is a perfect example of how color can alter the feel of traditional interior design. Dark taupe interacts with bright yellow, creating a polished, fresh feel in this gorgeous dining room.

dining room in traditional interior design style with coral and beige

If you love to surround yourself with fun interiors check this out. Beige and coral are strategically repeated in this dining room to create a tailored look. The final result is fun and feminine dining area to have a wonderful lunch with your friends. The moldings use an unexpected color that is truly brave and, yet it works with everything. The French chairs create a glamorous feature that is still classic. The art print adds even more fun to the space. The gold of the chandelier and the mirror pick from the gold-beige of the chairs.

Update a Traditional Room with Textures

Try playing with textures of different materials while keeping the furniture and accents within a Traditional Interior design style. The final result can be charming and romantic. You can even stay within the same monochramatic color scheme to achieve quite a bit of interest.

Inject Modern Pieces to Juxtopose Traditional Interior Design Elements

I suggest that you check the works of Daryl Carter, a reknown interior designer that is highly successful in elevated traditional style interiors. He is a genious when it comes to bringing in modern elements that work within the classic context.

Please let me know what is your decorating style and your challenges.


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