10 Tips For Freshening Trad Style

House & Home took over the stage at the Interior Design Show in Toronto on Sunday, January 26 with a panel of style experts that included Lynda Reeves, Suzanne Dimma and Sarah Richardson. To kick off the day, Lynda Reeves and Kelvin Browne, the executive director and CEO of the Gardiner Museum, discussed how to keep trad pieces looking fresh. To illustrate the point, Lynda displayed images from three of Kelvin’s homes (shown below) that have been featured in the magazine, from a quaint country stone cottage, to a soaring modern structure that Kelvin designed, to a downsized city apartment. Lynda highlighted the furnishings and accessories that Kelvin used in different homes, then Kelvin shared his top 10 tips on freshening traditional style and finding pieces that will stay with you for decades.

1) Love the stuff you own. Kelvin’s first tip was to make sure that you never buy for a “look” as it will never work. Instead, shop for things that you are actually drawn to and excited about.

2) Buy old things. “Some reproductions can cost more than the real thing,” Kelvin says, suggesting antique stores, auctions and estate sales as great sources for antique bargains. “Older items will also have a great patina to add personality that you can’t get with a brand new item, and antiques are particularly affordable now.”

3) Never buy fancy. “Basically, you’ll look desperate and no one will be comfortable if you try to decorate to impress.”

4) Orderly is good but you should feel as though you can put your feet up. Comfort is key, you want to be able to use your whole house.

5) Personality isn’t clutter. “A small number of meaningful items scattered throughout a home is fine, and should be done to create a sense of self in a home.”

6) Don’t pay for a patterned sofa. Kelvin explained that couches are a big budget item and should be kept neutral to last with changing styles and tastes. Because of their size, Kelvin likens a sofa to a “beached whale” that gobbles up space, and is too big of investment for a pattern you might tire of (on a side note, a well constructed sofa can easily last 20 years, so be prepared to switch up the upholstery to get the most mileage out of it).

7) Furniture doesn’t need to be big to be comfortable. Small condos need small furniture. “Mid-century furniture tends to be more compact.”

8) A theme pulls everything together. Everyone is mixing periods but editing is required to create a cohesive look.

9) Not everything is a bargain. “Sometimes you need to invest to get something that looks great and will last.”

10) Leave time for evolution. “Never furnish a place immediately, see how the pieces you already have work in a new space, and then move things around.”

From these tips, Lynda and Kelvin agreed that it is important that a home reflects you. Books, travel souvenirs, art, and family heirlooms all show your personality and should be on view rather than hidden away. Kelvin’s final word: “Never be a stranger in your own home.”

Photo credits:
1. House & Home April 2013, Virginia Macdonald
2. House & Home August 2006, Virginia Macdonald
3. House & Home April 1997, Ted Yarwood
4. House & Home April 2013, Virginia Macdonald
5. House & Home April 2013, Virginia Macdonald
6.House & Home August 2006, Virginia Macdonald
7. House & Home April 2013, Virginia Macdonald
8. House & Home April 1997, Ted Yarwood
9. House & Home August 2006, Virginia Macdonald
10. House & Home April 2013, Virginia Macdonald

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