Smart Solutions: Blend styles for rich home decor

Jeanine Matlow
Special to The Detroit News
Classic pieces with a twist like a traditional side table with an acrylic finish lend interest to a room.

It’s not easy to go it alone. That may be why standard home decor categories, such as traditional and contemporary, are taking a more layered approach when it comes to interiors.

For instance, contemporary takes on a whole new tone when a softer side becomes part of its DNA. The warm contemporary look pairs comforting materials like wood with cooler selections like metal for a mix with a more inviting vibe.

On the flip side, modern farmhouse style makes rustic more refined by putting a current spin on the aesthetic that signals comfort and warmth. The updated version still conveys the laidback look and charm of the well-worn pieces that dominate this label. It could be as simple as a bookcase with a distressed finish and clean lines.  

With transitional interiors, traditional and contemporary elements come together as one. Blending contents that share a common bond can make a space less dated over time. On a similar note, traditional interiors with a twist can take an old classic to new heights with a sisal rug that tones down the formality of a tufted sofa.

Eclectic may be a term that’s heard too often, but some people simply go with their gut when making a home goods purchase and the pieces can be compatible. In the end, a room with more diverse contents can be more dynamic than playing it safe.

You can work with what you have when tweaking your interiors. Inject a traditional space that may be a bit staid with unexpected elements like abstract art. Or, paint a piece of furniture that features a dark finish in a brighter hue like white to make your space feel fresh and new. Paint can also help to unify distinctive pieces when they share the same palette.

Furnishings with a classic silhouette like a wing chair or a vintage chaise will look more current with bold upholstery. Traditional tones like brass and gold can be found on modern forms like contemporary barware for a mix of old and new.

A bohemian vibe lets you combine a variety of finds that create a casual and colorful blend of components. This unconventional selection often features an array of objects that look like they found their way into your home.

Varied styles can be made to feel more cohesive with a common characteristic, such as color, shape or scale. You might pair contemporary chairs with neutral-colored leather cushions that complement the wood on a traditional dining table to make a statement.

If you’re not ready to make a major change at the moment, start small. Table settings can be a great place to experiment. Place curved salad bowls on vintage plates to lend interest to your arrangement. For another winning combination, try crystal wine glasses and flatware with a modern edge.

When you pick one particular look and stay with it, your rooms can fall flat or get tired over time. On the other hand, combined design styles create a timeless environment. Whether you warm your contemporary or tone down your traditional, you may just end up with the perfect blend.

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at