The Rookie Neo-Traditionalist

Pinning down my personal style has always been a challenge for me. I love antiques and clean tailored lines but I also can’t resist a good jute rug and colorful throw pillow…or ten. I love neutral and monochromatic rooms but then when I see a bright piece of art or a pendant lantern with a pop of color I suddenly want to design my home around those too. Throw animal prints, chinoiserie, and blue into the mix and don’t get me started! I’m obsessed. I know these three elements are very “trendy” right now but they have always been my trifecta, so I am 100% on board with the trend. Oh, and if I add a love of grasscloth in there does it make it a quadfecta? See what just happened there? I start getting excited about all of the pretty details and this is where I seem to get stuck every time. It has always been a delicate and sometimes unsuccessful balancing act for me trying to find the right mix in my own home.

Finally, last year ago I stumbled across a name for this hybrid of contemporary, transitional, and traditional pieces with a mix of color, pattern and neutrals and…I am defined as a neo-traditionalist. I finally have a label for my “style”! Now, how on earth to execute it?!

After doing some research, the most common elements of neo-traditional style are:

• Blending classical and contemporary furniture

• Mixing finishes of wood

• Incorporating textures like jute, sisal, and grasscloth

• Layering and mixing patterns and colors but building it off a neutral or monochromatic foundation

• Rooms of this style typically posses a light, playful edge through the use of animal print, chinoiserie, or whimsical wallpaper or artwork

As I lapped up everything I could find on neo-traditionalism, I quickly came across four of my now favorite designers: Ashley Whittaker, Sarah Bartholomew, Meg Braff, and Maggie Griffin. All of these talented designers can flawlessly arrange a room full of different textures and patterns, antiques and modern furniture and still make it look cohesive, clean and never cluttered. What I find to be even more impressive, is that the spaces they design never look stuffy. They ooze elegance but you still feel like you could cuddle up on the perfectly upholstered Beacon Hill sofa in pajama pants and drink a glass (or two) of red wine watching Bravo. Sigh.

Their work speaks for itself and the images of their rooms below seems to define the style better then I could with words.

Ashley Whittaker via House Beautiful

Sarah Bartholomew via Traditional Home

Meg Braff Design via McKenzie Home

Maggie Griffin Design via Ballard Designs

What do you think? Any other “Neo-Trads” out there?



P.S. I love everything interior design but am far from a professional interior designer. Part of the reason I started this blog was to learn and connect with other like minded people and gain as much inspiration and knowledge as possible. So if I have described anything wrong or if you have more information please don’t hesitate to let me know!

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