Mixing Décor Styles: How to Blend Classic with Contemporary Like a Pro

When decorating a home, most people concentrate on picking out the furniture of the same style and from the same era, but what if we told you that is not a rule, rather a habit? In fact, many renowned interior designers have built their entire careers on creating transitional styles which blend two or more eras into one coherent look. Embracing contrasting styles gives the space character, texture, and unique appearance unparalleled to any matchy-matchy room design. However, mixing décor styles is paved with many challenges and potential errors. If you are aiming for the classic-contemporary combo, here are some tips that will help you overcome them.

Start with a neutral backdrop

contemporary decor

In transitional décor, it is vital to let the furniture, finishes and the accessories do all the talking. That’s why you need to be extra careful when choosing wall colors. Too bright or colorful walls could overpower everything you are trying to achieve with the details. It is best to opt for a neutral color palette, preferably monochromatic. You can incorporate different hues of one color but never go for more than two tones.

Choose one dominant style

Think of yourself as a movie director setting up the casting for the lead and the supporting role. Do you prefer traditional or modern décor? Give one of them the main part, and then work in 80/20 ratio. The main style should represent the majority of the décor, while the supporting approach gets the remaining 20 percent. If you already have some furniture pieces you want to keep, let them (especially the larger ones) be your guide.

Form clans

This might sound like a weird thing to say, but believe us, same styles look better when in groups. While matchy-matchy isn’t the look you should aim for, you should still try to make a composition that works. You don’t have to group the items of the same style, though. You just need to find something the items have in common, such as color, texture, and size and then display them together to form collections.

Look beyond furniture

decorative kitchen elements


Furniture is the easiest way to incorporate two different design eras, but these two styles have so much defining features that you can play with them and create something truly unique. For example, the beautiful decorative concrete can treat your home with an innovative look (particularly in kitchens and bathrooms) for a fraction of the price of some high-end material. When complemented with solid wood furniture, the two make the ideal marriage of contemporary and classic. On the other hand, hardwood floors carry more of a traditional feel and can be contrasted with modern rugs and furniture pieces.

Always start with the elephant in the room

classic rustic bedroom

The largest furniture pieces or, as in the previous paragraph, design elements should be the starting point for all of your décor efforts. If you are going with the classic look, this will probably be some traditional piece such as a canopy bed for the bedroom, a Spanish-style armoire, etc. For a modern room, that can be a Scandinavian minimalistic sofa, or similar.

Strategically scatter the accessories around

rustic style

Displaying accessories is probably the most difficult thing to do in transitional styles, but most people take this task lightly. Don’t be one of them. Here are a few tips to keep you on the right track:

  • Repeat certain accessories or their elements throughout the room.
  • Group items by similarities and in odd numbers. Try to use pieces of different height to create dynamics.
  • Don’t group too many things of the same style at one place.
  • If you have one element that stands out and can’t fit into any group, don’t fight it. Just make the item the focal point of the room.
  • Some of the defining features of these styles that could help you pick out the accessories better are clean, straight, and elegantly curved lines, neutral shades, innovative look, industrial materials, and smooth textures, for the contemporary style; big statement pieces (e.g. crystal chandeliers), molding, gilded mirrors, and antiques, for the classic look.

If you stick to these rules and allow yourself to experiment a little, you can create a home unlike any other, but with style and grace.

John Jeffreys

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