Five Tips To Keep Your Traditional Décor From Getting Tired

A couple of great bloggers have written recently about evolving style and how to keep it fresh.  Little changes on a regular basis help so that it doesn't become a major overhaul.

 1.  Collect what you love but rotate the mix.
 For example, Kelley from the Polished Pebble has been collecting grain sacks and using them in her modern country décor for the past several years.  Still current...but she is "tweaking" other accessories.  For example, she likes these chairs from a few years ago (me too) but says she might change the rug.
Photo: Victoria Pearson Styling: Heather Bullard
Her chairs below, from earlier years, are in her current space...and you can see that her other collectables "things she loves" are still here but with fresh, white updates.  Read more about it here.

2.  Add on-trend colors in accent pieces.
This a good point that Cindy Hattersley makes in this post.
In Cindy's family room, she updates with colorful and graphic pillows.  The white walls, dark windows and lack of clutter give the room a fresh appeal.

3.  Avoid all matching pieces (especially oak and reddish stained wood).  
Oh boy...I get this a lot... "But we spent a fortune on that (insert famous quality brand name) furniture set twenty years ago!"  
I'm so glad we painted these dining room chairs.  The table below feels updated in white.
By Studio McGee

In fact, if you look at my Pinterest board...NOTHING is all matching.

4.  Inject life with a few current (not hugely expensive) pieces that appeal to you
... such as with industrial furnishings or fresh fabrics.  My friend and talented seamstress, Liana, created this mood board.

OK, the fabrics are luxe but the pendant light with or without rope is from Pottery Barn.  I've used the woven pillow from Urban Outfitters.  You can get the Tolix chairs at Overstocks and that looks like an IKEA sofa.  Great high low mix, Liana!
Look at one of my current challenges... the kitchen and family room have been redone but the living room not so much...  I do like the lighter walls.  This will be a fun before and after.

5.  Sounds easier than it is ...but limit the clutter and little things.   
Store what is important but not working for you right now.  For example, we have a lot  of colorful hand painted Italian pottery that we purchased on trips.  Good memories...not the look I want right now.  BUT it is special and I am old enough to know it will come back.  So, keep your Hummels, Lladros, etc.   Ha!  Just don't display them in an oak or cherry cabinet that matches the rest of the living room.

Here's a great example of streamlined décor by M. Elle Design.

You just  might have to consider a big item like recovering a sofa or buying a new one.  But the main thing is to make small updates over time...as my sister calls it "a phased decorating approach."  It won't become overwhelming if you do.

Thanks for reading!


  1. Mary Ann these are all excellent tips. I recently packed away several boxes of decorative and artful accessories, I love the more streamlined look (and trust me there is plenty of art still in my home!) Ha!

    The Arts by Karena


  2. Mary Ann,
    This is a topic that occupies my mind alot. Especially since our sons both married very talented women...I see their homes and worry about our home becoming "old lady like". I have made some of the changes you mention. I guess being mindful of this is the best way to keep things fresh. Thanks for the ideas.

    1. Yes, don't want to be too "grandma-like"...I am SURE yours is fresh though.

  3. When I see today's mid century modern it looks just like what my mother had in the fifties so naturally I don't want any part of it. Trends last about ten years and styles seem to recirculate eventually with a few updates.

  4. Happy Friday Mary Ann! You always have the best tips for freshening up a room. I love the pared down simplicity of these rooms, but find it hard to take away some of the little things that I love! I just need to do it!
    Can't wait to see your next "before and after", I'm sure it will be fabulous.
    Have a beautiful weekend.
    xoxo Gail

  5. Good post and great pointers, Cynthia's family room is beautiful and well curated.I do not like when all woods are matchy matchy...its more interesting to mix it up as you have so beautifully done in your dining area. Enjoy your weekend!

  6. Love this! I started with orange/pink pillows and then recently added brighter hot pink velvet ones. But it's hard to just change everything every five years. Blogging is so dangerous. You get so bored and want what you see!!!

    1. I know...there are too many things out there to like, Joni!

  7. Good points, every single one of them!!

  8. Excellent tips. I cannot tell you how many readers I get from you. WOW! xo

  9. Indeed! Five fabulous tips! Great post, Mary Ann.

  10. Such a great post with awesome tips! Sometimes it can be so frustrating when you have a lot of traditional pieces that you just "can't" get rid of.

  11. Such a great post with awesome tips! Sometimes it can be so frustrating when you have a lot of traditional pieces that you just "can't" get rid of.

  12. excellent tips!! Especially the mis-matching of wood stains. Always a struggle but it looks so much fresher and a lot lighter when things are not perfectly matched!

  13. I couldn't agree more Mary Ann! I am in the midst of updating things here and there - "refreshing" and updating. Most of my antiques get to stay (except those "reddish" woods - ugh!) and I'm just updating the pillows, accessories and drapes. I think if you pick timeless shapes in the upholstered items and antiques, you can keep those forever. And I agree that nothing should "match". I have all different colored woods in my living areas, and I think it works!

    Love this post!


  14. Great tips & really good advice about keeping meaningful things. I'm too quick to get rid of stuff and then later regret it.

  15. Hi Mary Ann! thank you so much for including me in this wonderful post. Love all of your tips. I think we all gravitate to certain textures or colors that really speak to us. I can't stop loving wicker baskets old and new. And for some reason pottery is something I always find interesting. Your advice about too many little things is great. Usually three collectibles is so much more interesting than a huge collection of the same thing which looks kind of "crazy cat lady-ish" ; ) Like a collection of salt and pepper shakers!
    On the clutter front....use pieces that are clear, like glass consoles and clear glass table lamps which immediately reduce clutter.
    Great post....!!!!

    xo kelley

  16. Great post, Mary Ann... your tips were spot on!

  17. Some very practical tips. Love the updated white chairs. I've always said a can of white—or black!—can of paint can be your greatest friend for bringing furniture with great lines but not so great finish into style. Personally, I think trends should be avoided like the pox to creativity they are. If rooms aren't personal, what's the point? With "trends" + internet we've been able to make rooms look the same all over the world. That's a hyperbole, I know, but it does feel that way sometimes! I think our homes should tell our persoanal stories. Yes, let's edit them, but still let's keep the conversation going between ourselves and our spaces.

  18. These are such great tips Mary Ann. I love your design advice! That streamlined room at the end.....hubba hubba.


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