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Hint: lighting is one of those key pieces. With help from traditional lighting, you can guarantee your home never feels too old, too new or – worst of all – mismatched.
What is Traditional Style?
Now that you know what traditional style is not, here’s a better explanation of what it is and always should be.
Traditional style was born from the influence of 18th and 19th-century European décor. It’s regarded as elegant and harmonious. Traditional spaces usually have symmetry in their layout that offers a sense of calm and order.
You’ll notice the walls are usually a clean, neutral white or off-white, but are sometimes accented with whimsical wallpaper or a bold paint color. Of course, bold in the traditional sense is rich; it’s deep like ocean blue or emerald green. The floors are almost always hardwood in a dark brown finish. In a modern traditional home, however, you might find wood-look porcelain tile, because it’s more durable and easier to maintain.
As for furnishings and accessories, traditional style is all about that grown-up elegance. Furniture pieces can be precious family heirlooms, but they’re often intermingled with oversized sectionals and light fixtures of this century.
A Cheat Sheet for Traditional Style
- Colors: dark neutrals with bold accents
- Walls: mostly neutral white or ecru, though paisley or floral wallpaper is common in small rooms
- Flooring: dark hardwood, usually cherry, maple or mahogany
- Furniture: heavy/sturdy with elegant details like a claw-foot tub or hand-carved china cabinet
- Accessories: sophisticated touches, like silver-plated mirrors, ceramic vases with ornate patterns, and a collection of well-read novels
Characteristics of Traditional Lighting Fixtures
If you can imagine modern lighting with its unadorned arms, square lines and neutral tones, you can better understand traditional lighting – it’s the complete opposite. Traditional lighting is defined by ornamentation. Complex details that are welcomed on wallpaper or spotted in furniture are also key features of a traditional chandelier, pendant, wall sconce or table lamp.
In terms of materials, look for brass or crystal. Finishes such as bronze, antique gold and brushed nickel are also popular in traditional design, as they match up with the dark wood elements in a room. Some traditional chandeliers also come with linen lamp shades or hurricane glass coverings to help dim the light to an ambient glow. Remember, traditional style is all about creating an inviting space.
- Ornate, curvy details
- Brass or bronze
- Crystal flourishes
- Linen lamp shades
- Glass coverings (frosted or clear)
7 Stunning Examples of Traditional Lighting
One of the best features of traditional lighting is that it blends well with other designs. That’s why you might see classic candelabras made of unfinished wood or glass details against wrought iron. This mix of materials makes it easy to incorporate traditional lighting into any home.
Here are seven examples that offer their own unique elements, so you can narrow down what works best in your humble abode.
Traditional + Rustic
The circle base is often found in farmhouse interiors, which are known to have a rustic flair. Balancing it out here are the traditional hurricane glass shades and eight candle light bulbs. These features are absolutely timeless, along with the sheer simplicity of this chandelier. Use it as an accent to your dining room or vaulted entryway.
Weathered metal with wood is a common combination in rustic design, and that’s exactly what you get with this six-light chandelier. Made of dark zinc and driftwood beads, the overall appeal sounds rustic. But then you notice how the beads hang ever-so-delicately and the even number of light bulbs and lines is a perfect example of symmetry. That’s how you know this belongs in your traditional home with high ceilings.
Traditional + Industrial
The intersecting globe cage is almost a work of art in this unsuspecting light fixture. The exposed interior echoes that of industrial design, where ductwork and copper pipes are in plain sight. Indeed, this is a unique marriage in which a crystal chandelier meets wrought-iron pendant. But you’ll love it for the texture and elegance it brings to your traditional interior. Try it in the living room, foyer or master suite.
Traditional + French Country
The French consider light fixtures to be the jewelry of the home, which can be no more evident than in these glass beads that drop like a layered pearl necklace. Of course, that same sense of elegance is essential to traditional décor. This is what makes the Belvedere in burnished brass an obvious choice for your home – especially in the foyer, where first impressions are made.
Ornate curlicues cast out of copper are evidence of that 19th-century influence. With 20 lights in a candelabra design, this is a dense fixture against a neutral color scheme. Pure traditionalists will most appreciate this piece in a two-story entrance or great room, where its size can be put to good use.
The dark Tuscan brown finish attracts a traditional mahogany floor, while the candle-shaped light bulbs bring old-warm charm. While this fixture doesn’t offer a lot of weight to a room, its simple-but-classic curves are true traditional style. In fact, the airiness is what makes the chandelier suitable for an eat-in-kitchen or sunroom.
Depending on the finish you choose, this six-light chandelier can add as much dimension as you need. The nickel finish keeps it light for a bedroom or small dining area. But you could also opt for the brushed bronze, an authentic indication of traditional style. In either case, the frosted glass shades make for comfortable lighting in a bedroom or entryway.
Enlighten Your Expectations
When decorating your home, remember that it’s your sanctuary. Light it to suit your mood and choose a fixture that reflects your own style. Whether you prefer pure traditional lighting or a twist of farmhouse chic, there’s a fixture that will defy your expectations – and impress your houseguests.