inspiration4 min read

6 elegant traditional living room ideas

Traditional living room

WordsMegan Lambert


Image by Erin Gates Interior Design

You can’t mention traditional decor without mentioning timeless style. The look has been around for generations—probably why it retains its popularity. It’s that same sense of familiarity, dependability, and unmoving presence that makes it a reliable choice in your home. Your living room is where you want to feel grounded and relaxed. And (particularly if you grew up in a traditionally decorated home) nothing will feel more ‘grounding’ than a traditional decor living room. 

Traditional living room decor idea: embrace traditional architectural elements

Traditional decor lends itself to period homes. If yours boasts period features like exposed wood beams, wall panelling, cornicing or ceiling roses, make sure to emphasise these. You can do so by leaving them bare and allowing them to take centre stage or through your choice of paint, as with these 6 dado and picture rail ideas. Don't have lots of period features? You can still get the look, even on a budget. This decorator built her wall panelling on an £80 budget. Learn how to do DIY wall panelling and get that classic, traditional look—whether your home is modern or centuries old.

Traditional living room decor idea: mix patterned textiles and upholstery

Don't be afraid to mix and match your patterns and fabrics in a traditional living room. Just make sure that they use time-tested motifs. Even if you don't recognize the names, you'll recognize these patterns. Give 'fleur de lis' or 'damask' fabrics a quick google, and you'll see what we mean. You can also incorporate those motifs into your wallpaper. Keep it nice and neutral with stripes, or bring some the outdoors in with Botanical 03. All would look right at home in a traditionally styled living room.

Traditional living room decor idea: add a splash of Chinoiserie

Or, if you want to bring a little fancy into your home, why not incorporate the romance of Chinoiserie. Try adorning your space with beautiful blue and white Chinoiserie vases. Or you can go all out with wall-to-wall Chinoiserie wallpaper for a cool, calm and collected living room. If you don't want to cover your entire room, use this print in your fabrics. From cushions to upholstery (we love a Chinoiserie print armchair or ottoman), it is another timeless style that goes hand-in-hand with traditional decor. You could even transform your Chinoiserie wallpaper into panels and frame the design like art.

Traditional living room decor idea:  focus on functionality and comfort

Despite what might seem like luxurious prints and fabrics, traditional decor should feel lived in—comfortable, functional, and as though you're allowed to kick your shoes off and put your feet on the sofa. If your armchairs are a little scuffed or your antique rug a tad threadbare in places, that's part of the charm. You want a traditional home to speak of generations past, so some wear and tear in places is allowed if it contributes to a feeling of comfort.

Traditional living room decor idea: opt for darker wood finishes

Whether it's your wall panelling, beams, exposed wood flooring, or furnishing, traditional decor favours darker wood finishes. Period pieces and antique furnishings generally use richer woods like mahogany, walnut, and chestnut. If you're unsure how to work with a darker wood finish, find out the best paint colours to pair with wood.