Modern Art in Traditional Rooms

Home Decor Ideas

I talk (and write) incessantly about creating "collected" rooms; ones that appear to have evolved over a long period of time. To me, achieving a look that floats timelessly from one generation to another isn't about matching periods, woods and finishes; it's about mixing historic elements with contemporary pieces and layering patterns and textures while maintaing a visual hierarchy. One way (among many) that designers create such a look is by placing modern, abstract art among traditional furnishings. The juxtaposition sets the artwork apart, giving it a moment in the sun, without overshadowing the furniture style. The whole room gets a new freshness.
There is so much to love about this room: the mixing of metallic finishes, a simple table paired with Klismos-inspired chairs, a traditional sideboard topped with gorgeous green lamps, and the sparkly chandelier overhead. But my eye keeps sneaking back to the abstract painting, which gives the room a contemporary flair.
This quiet, subdued bedroom experiences a jolt of excitement thanks to the colorful painting above the sofa. The art picks up some of the colors sprinkled throughout the room, introduces a few new ones to jazz things up, and brings the transitional look full-circle.
This dining room provides a wonderful example of how periods overlap beautifully. Chinese chippendale chairs; a traditional oval table; a natural woven rug; an oversized but airy chandelier; intricate wainscotting and moldings; and abstract paintings on the far wall tell us there is nothing predictable about the client or the designer.
A play of scale makes this vignette successful. We are accustomed to seeing a larger mirror over an entry table with, perhaps, some nearby artwork. Tracery Interiors upended our expectations with a sizable abstract painting hung above a demure but punchy console, polished off with a tiny tabletop mirror. The composition isn't cluttered, but it is surely multi-layered and exciting.
Put all the focus on a show-stopping piece of art above a fireplace and between built-ins, as was done in this beachy living room. The colors in the painting are repeated in the furnishings and finishes, but the subject matter and composition make it stand out on its own.
A little goes a long way; abstract and/or modern art doesn't always have to be large in scale. The small pieces above this headboard speak volumes in their coordinating colors. The room is at once cozy, fresh and exciting.
A variety of colors and subtle textures abound here, and the ethereal painting over the cabinet helps bring it all together. The painting is prominent without being overwhelming, providing a lovely opportunity for the shapely chair, floor lamp and chest to shine.
I know I rag on about being too matchy-matchy, but there are exceptions to my (personal) no-matching rule. Bold artwork doesn't always have to be boldly presented. In this expertly-composed room, the abstract painting blends in with the monochromatic warm tones of the wall, drapery, sofa and rug.
Everything about this living room shouts "classic," except the art wall, which whispers "unconventional." I love the formal framing of informal sketches, which elevates the art and smooths the transition between abstract art and a traditional room.
Several elements work to make this dining room lively and glamorous, but that highly stylized, expressionist painting really personalizes the space, giving onlookers a little insight into the homeowner's wide range of interests.
Small-scale, light artwork contrasts with the dark, heavy furniture in this living room, while the untraditional spacing of the work above the sofa gives the whole room a more whimsical feel.


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