The Rookie Neo-Traditionalist

The Rookie Neo-Traditionalist

Over the weekend I was looking back at a few of my earliest blog posts and forgot how much I loved writing this one. At the time I had maybe 100 readers and if you told me how much the blog would grow in less than a year and a half and that I’d be taking on design projects of my own, I never would have believed you. I still don’t know where my love for design will ultimately take me, but my plan is to stay true to myself and see where this surprising and unexpected road takes me. What is your design style? Are you a neo-traditionalist too?

Happy Monday!

Mark D. Sikes

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

When it comes to the Masters of neo-traditional design, five names that instantly come to mind are Ashley Whittaker, Sarah Bartholomew, Meg Braff, Mark D. Sikes 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 are are the epitome of livable luxury. They ooze elegance but you still feel like you could cuddle up on the perfectly upholstered sofa trimmed with bullion fringe 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 than I could with words.

Ashley Whittaker via House Beautiful
Sarah Bartholomew via Traditional Home
Meg Braff Design

Maggie Griffin Design

get the look

Thank you for stopping by and I hope you have a great week!

Sophie Signature



  1. Casey
    September 28, 2019 / 11:46 am

    Oh! Is that what my style is called…Neo-traditionalist?! Seriously…you’ve described my style in your post. I always described my decorating style as “Updated Traditional’ because I don’t really know how else to describe it. I like many old, classic design and style elements yet, I find myself drawn to natural elements, such as jute and sisal, as you described. I love a good monochromatic room but when I see a pattern or pop of color, I want it! Sadly, when I think of decorating my home, I’m stumped. Eventually, I pull the room together, though, and I’m happy with it. We’re currently remodeling a couple of rooms in our 1923 Craftsman. While the exterior of the home is fine by me, the interior was remodeled many times and, unfortunately, the additions to the home left it with Zero character! Nothing but boring, square rooms. So many projects! ha ha Nonetheless, I look forward to following your beautiful blog for more inspiration! Blessings!

  2. Brandy Simpkins
    January 16, 2020 / 2:52 pm

    Beautiful room, absolutely beautiful!!! I too am a neo traditionalist. You described it perfectly. In the picture of your living room, there is a gorgeous brass pineapple sconce. I searched your website for the source but came up empty. Would you happen to remember where you bought it or have a link?

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