Style File: Modern Traditional

My husband and I have lived in our home for 15 years. When we first bought our 1970s ranch house, it was perfectly livable, but rather outdated in style and not to our taste, which I think is probably typical for younger couples. We are rather handy with a can-do attitude, so we knew working our way around the home to update and personalize it would be within our skills, if not always our budget. I think it also helped tremendously that we both grew up in households where both sets of parents were good at “making do” and DIY, and at first we received some help as our own skills grew. We began by replacing our original 1970s kitchen, dark plywood cupboards and laminate with a berber carpet floor. I largely repainted the entire house. We replaced windows, updated the bathroom, added hardwood floors and new carpets. In 2017, we completely renovated our basement level which now houses my studio space, as well as a 3/4 bathroom and laundry room. Busy, busy little remodelers, all while doing our regular life stuff, creating an art business and raising two little kids. Definitely it was not always easy, and it took a lot of time, but we have finally made a home very cozy and representative of our style. 

Stripping the ’90s wallpaper in our dining room. We have renovated so much of our home at this point, we’re working our way back around. Time to pass the DIY traditions down to the next generation.

However, all the while, I never actually thought of myself as having a “style.” We just made do. We chose materials we liked, of course, but we were also limited by what we could actually afford and work with (read as: lots of found, collected and free materials, thrifted, yard sale and hand-me-down pieces). No interior designers or stylists ever came to our house. Sources of inspiration came largely through magazines such as Country Living, Better Homes and Gardens, or via HGTV and Pinterest. So imagine my surprise today when I was scrolling through my emails and came across one of those “suggested boards” emails from Pinterest and within the bathroom board was an article EXACTLY ARTICULATING MY STYLE.  As I read the article I thought, “Oh my gosh, I may have actually found my style definition thanks to Emily Henderson!” Drum roll, please, it’s: MODERN TRADITIONAL!

One of my favorite examples of Modern Traditional style from the article. Notice the calm, neutral colors, warm wood tones, simple furniture, minimal styling and natural textures.

According the the article by Ms. Emily Henderson, Modern Traditional Style is a traditional, timeless style, a little bit modern, but also a little bit worn and rustic with shaker elements. The style feels humble and lived-in, modern yet welcoming, all with an heirloom and handmade look throughout. Furniture pieces are collected and a little worn (thanks for your help on this kids!), paint isn’t too perfect, metals are mixed, lines are clean and nothing is over adorned. The overall color pallet is warm neutrals (soft whites, creams, taupe, grays, light browns) with earthy wood tones and pops of metallic. Artwork adds a highly curated pop of color and largely reflects the natural world. It’s the perfect imperfections and subtle, simple details and just a few decorations that make the look. AGH! So. Perfectly. My. Home. Here are some examples from our newly renovated dining room.

Of course I made the table runner in my favorite scrappy, neutral prints from an original design. The table is the very first piece of furniture I bought when I moved away from home and has been lovingly warn and markered on by my children, adding to the Traditional Modern effect, I now know. The end chairs are vintage and were given to use by my mother-in-law. P.s. I know they aren’t actually dining chairs, but I love them, they are comfortable and I don’t have room for them anywhere else. It’s called breaking the rules, get used to it.

This corner vignette is a myriad of collected crockery in and atop an antique soda crate I found at a yard sale. The vintage wicker chair hauled home from my parents attic is covered in a baby blanket made for my husband by his grandmother.

The vintage buffet case from an estate sale houses my collection of collected glassware, as well as pieces I use everyday. The vintage runner on top was a gift from my sister, the napkin basket came from my mother’s collection and the crock was another yard sale find.

The artwork is 100% original from my son housed in this modern bronze frame which echos the finish in the light fixture. The hobnail piece of milk glass probably came from a yard sale- though I really can’t remember- and allows the wire vine to drape perfectly. The mirror was my grandmothers and (according to my father) likely from the 1920s or 30s, missing chip and all.

What does any of this have to do with quilting? Well, see, I think for the vast majority of us your overall style also informs you creative work. Therefore, I would definitely say the Modern Traditional home decor style could also be how I define my quilt design style. Traditional patterns with clean lines and a modern twist. Lots of soft, neutral colored fabrics using a variety of textures and reflecting elements of nature. Carefully curated pops of color and metallics. The quilts and home goods I make are meant to function and enhance daily life, bringing a touch of the traditional arts to those everyday mundane moments and elevating them. The true simple pleasure and timeless sanctity of the everyday home. Examples of my work I think best encapsulated the style are the table runner I made for my dining room and a recent finish, the Prairie Stars Quilt.

My Woven Trellis Table Runner combines lots of warm neutral tones and textures with clean lines and natural themed and geometric prints for that perfect Modern Traditional style.

The Prairie Stars Quilt reflects the Modern Traditional style in the use of the traditional pattern joined with a modern twist. The fabrics are neutral and warm with a metallic detail.

You don’t need to live in a curated display window, untouched museum setting, or perfectly styled magazine page to have a lovely style you enjoy! Adding a few well made, heirloom quality pieces to your home brings that special, personal touch of your style reflective of your family and home, all while being accessible for daily use. The true encapsulation of Modern Traditional style is living in the home with beautiful, functional, and collected elements and enjoying the value and beauty they bring to your everyday life. Join me in embracing the beauty in everyday objects and imbibing your home with lovely, collected pieces the bring joy! xoxo, Janice

Inspiration and resources are linked where applicable. All written work and photographs are original content and are copyright protected; kindly give due credit by linking back to my website if you use or share.

(©2019, Janice Bailor //