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New Traditionalism Is More Than Mixing Traditional With A Modern Twist

On January 6, 2012, in Posts, by Warren Sheets Design

As we look ahead to 2012 and anticipate the future, I embrace the new, while
having a fondness and reverence for the best of the past in the world of
interior design.

We like pairing the old with the new as an effective design tactic.
Juxtaposing one design element with another – as well as allowing each to
act in harmony with each other – is often referred to as New Traditionalism.
The term is not original. Instead, it has become a modern description of
Transitional Design – a place somewhere in between traditional and

While it can reap beautiful results, this “ying and yang” approach to design
is rather complex, and not a discipline that should be approached by the
novice designer. In fact, many professionals often find themselves
unsuccessful in their execution of this type of design – either because they
try too hard or suddenly find themselves in very deep, unchartered waters.

Yet in most cases, failure on this front of New Traditionalism happens for
just one reason.

New Traditionalism, or “transitional” design, is not accomplished by
randomly combining traditional elements with more modern or contemporary
furniture. Nor is it created by incorporating contemporary fabrics or
finishes with more traditional casegood pieces. And, its success is
certainly not dependent upon simply applying hot new colors with their more
conservative counterparts.

In fact, there is no formula or rulebook for a transitional design look.
Wonderful, inspiring and artful ‘transitory’ interior design is comprised of
one simple thing: a composition.

Indeed, a successful new traditional interior is fully reliant on the
artist. As an example, existing New Traditional interiors that our firm
worked on fifteen or more years ago, appear just as current today as the day
they were completed. Their contemporary elements have not gone out of date,
but instead have withstood the test of time. This is because they were
designed as a complete art composition – with distinctive contemporary or
modern aspects, which were enhanced by a traditional framework. When
designing interiors, successfully using artistic elements from our past and
combining them with contemporary nuances can produce a kind of cosmic
energy, as well as a compelling tribute to the past.

It’s not a challenge for the inexperienced. But if done with an artful eye
and panache, a new traditional interior will endure for years – even decades
– and aptly capture the old and the new.


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