A Few Choice Pieces Add Traditional Look

From Associated Press

With a few well-chosen features, you can capture the welcoming look and feel of traditional style in your kitchen, bedroom and bath, suggests Kitchen and Bath Ideas magazine in its current issue.

There are many shades to traditional style. Some "traditional" rooms could be described as elegant, some as classic, and a few could be called homey or rustic. It all depends on your taste. But there is a common thread among traditional designs: Elements from the past meet the present, melding splendidly for timeless appeal.

Keep in mind that it doesn't matter whether your home was built at the turn of the century or last month. You can create a time-honored atmosphere in any room. Study the characteristics typical to traditional style, then experiment with some of your favorites. Just remember not to overdo a good thing.

Here are some tips:

* Structure with style. You're fortunate if your home has inherently traditional architectural elements, such as tall, double-hung windows and high ceilings. But what if your home lacks those celebrated features? Create your own architecture!

Some things you might try adding include detailed moldings around doors and windows, at the ceiling and around the fireplace.

Chair rails and tongue-and-groove wainscoting add traditional interest to walls. Insertable window grilles create the illusion of multi-paned windows from a bygone era. Shutters, corbels and paneled doors and walls can do the trick as well.

* The material world. There are materials that can make a room appear substantial and permanent--cornerstones of traditional style. Look for elements that come from nature and include them as surfaces for floors, walls, ceilings and countertops, as well as in furnishings. Favored materials include wood, brick, marble and stone.

Metals can evoke an enduring sense of the past too. Tin, wrought iron, brass and copper are just a few of the possibilities.

* Good hues. For accents, try rich, deepened colors that look as if they've aged for a century or two. Think warm, rich hues: jewel tones, cranberries, golds and Williamsburg blues, for example. You'll appreciate mellow colors that make you feel comfortable.

Don't, however, underestimate the power of neutrals to bring out wood details or to provide a subtle background for furnishings and fabrics.

* Tactics with textiles. From homespun to exquisite to sumptuous, fabrics can soften the look of your traditional room. Your choices are practically limitless for upholstering furniture, draping windows and covering pillows, chair cushions or tables.

Select from solid colors, florals, elaborate patterns, simple prints or stripes. Many of them can fit into a relationship with the past.

* Furnish with flair. New or old, furnishings can make your scheme lively and interesting. Except for the most contemporary pieces, your options are almost unrestricted.

Try including handsome wood cabinetry with paneled or glass doors. Or experiment with open shelves for display.

Furnishings also can provide an opportunity to introduce a finely crafted or intricately carved piece into a room. Richly upholstered, overstuffed pieces work, as do graceful wingback chairs and finely curved chaise longues. Don't forget to visit antique stores and flea markets for some unusual finds. Or snoop through grandmother's attic.

* Little things mean a lot. Use a selection of accessories as finishing touches to your traditional room.

Whether quaint, primitive or exquisite in their appeal, antiques and collectibles help personalize any traditional room. Cherished family heirlooms speak eloquently of your traditions by evoking memories from the past. Plush pillows, portraits, prints and paintings that depict a bit of history can create an atmosphere of integrity and beauty. Area rugs can add an essential element of warmth and are another way of bringing color, pattern and texture into a room.

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