Traditional Decorating Is Back—And Better Than Ever

Pleated shades and pelmets, please!

April 14, 2021
From the return of chintz and chinoiserie to the resurgence of pleats and patterns, the latest twist on traditional style is a fresh take on yesteryear. Call it “granny chic“—if you must—but this nostaglia-tinged aesthetic is timeless, not tired. Here are the key ingredients to achieve the look.

Use Pelmets to Add Romance

First used in ornate Renaissance mansions, pelmets are the crowning touches of elegantly attired windows, but they have had a reputation as ultra prim and proper. Not so under the eye of designer Miles Redd, who tricked out this glam dressing room’s pelmet, above, with fancy whorled trim and playful dangling tassels. The effect is unexpected yet still posh and pretty.

Top It Off With a Decorative Shade

Forget country-cutesy lampshades and the plain Jane ones so popular in contemporary interiors. The newest shades are aglow with traditional-inspired pleats, patterns, scallops, and marbling in a modern palette that’s delightfully kitsch-free.

Don't Be Afraid to Match

The matchy-matchy look is back and Claire Staszak of Centered by Design pulled out the stops in a child’s room using Schumacher’s playful Carly fabric and wallpaper to create instant joy.

Soften a Space With Upholstered Walls

There’s something cozy and comforting about fabric-covered walls. The light dun-colored tone that designer Veere Grenney chose balances this English country house room’s high ceilings and warms up the entire space.

Display Treasures on Wall Brackets

A dramatic dais for favorite pieces, molded pedestals elevate the humble bracket to a museum-worthy platform. Above, they are perfect stages for Tournai porcelain in the West Sussex home of designers Paolo Moschino and Philip Vergeylen.

Cover Lackluster Chandelier Cords

Minimalist trends have left many chandelier chains and pendant cords bare. The decorative ruching of a classic cord sleeve, however, like this one in a room by designer Alex Papachristidis, above, brings back a romantic adornment with tons of visual appeal.

When In Doubt, Add Trim

The fringe benefits of these detailed little accents are endless. Always the perfect finishing touch, trim adds personality and polish to pillows, curtains, bedding, sofas and more. It takes only a little bit to make a bold statement—the selection above from Schumacher draws on classical, Ottoman, Swedish and other inspirations.

Opt for Clean-Lined Tableskirts

Trade the frowsy flounces for clean, tailored lines and suddenly this Victorian-era staple is transformed from frumpy to fashionable. Designer Colette van den Thillart added teal accents to wake up the floor-length skirting displayed in her London flat, above, surrounding the table with whimsical stools.

Produced by Tori Mellott, Eugenia Santiesteban Soto and Hudson Moore