Mod Cons vs. Classic Design: Combining Frills and Function at Home

Mar 5 2013

Achieving a classic interior design with a modern twist will give your home a very distinctive contemporary appeal. The convenience of flat screen, wall-to-wall TVs, enormous beds and spaciousness are all desired aesthetics but are quickly becoming tiresome and overdone.

Go too far in the other direction however, and turn your lodgings into a perfect re-creation of a mid-century home complete with a vintage crib for the little one (however beautiful such a house may be) and you’ll soon start to miss those luxury mod cons!

Instead, follow my guide to combining the best of both worlds for a home that’s comfortable, full of personality and still very much in the 21st century...

The Living Room


Image by Boa-Franc
Combining the classic with the modern is a fresh approach to living room decor – traditional but simple furniture and curtains using just a few colours and plenty of wood will have you on your way to achieving a classic design.

A truly classic design is achieved by a strong symmetry of space with each side of the room balanced against the other. You don’t need to make one side of the room a mirror image of the other, but pick a central focal point such as a fireplace or coffee table right in the middle of the room and spread everything else evenly around that.

The modern bit? Invest in a funky lamp or spot-lighting to highlight that traditional fireplace, or set off a lacklustre room with some cool, contemporary art. Be creative and really let your personality shine; if you love kitsch stamp cushions, adorn your classic leather sofa with them because, well, why not? It’s your home after all!

The Bedroom


Image by Boa-Franc
The bedroom should be designed in a way that stimulates a calming environment so avoid too much clutter, but it doesn’t have to be a plain and simple room that forgoes all frills – starkness and comfort rarely go hand in hand! Striking the right combination will ensure the bedroom is somewhere you can truly relax and wind down.

It is important to get your lighting right to set a luminous, warm glow that gives the room a sense of peacefulness – avoid overly bright spotlighting and go for dimmable wall uplighters instead.

A glossy, wooden floor is ultra modern and luxurious, but top it with a bohemian-chic rug to keep your toes nice and warm. Similarly, an eye-catching bed frame makes for a stunning centrepiece but don’t skimp on the linen – pile it high with a deep duvet and soft, velvety pillows!

The Kitchen


Image by Boa-Franc
Classic materials for the cabinets, work tops, and other kitchen utilities can create a warm, homely ambience; a timber graphite or oak finish is ideal, with marble or granite worktops rather than modern laminate. To add more of a modern definitive element to the room, glass worktops over traditional wooden cupboards strike a perfect balance between old and new!

Renovate your kitchen in a way that the mod cons support and enhance the room. Don’t clutter up your workspace with all manner of electrical kitchen gadgets; store them away out of sight and invest in some modern, high-tech but vintage-looking gadgets such as kitsch-style toasters and kettles.

The Bathroom


Image by ooh_food
The bathroom can quite often be overlooked by homeowners as an opportunity to indulge in very creative interior design. Again the mismatch of classical furnishings such as a traditional, gilt-framed mirror and an old-school bath tub, coupled with the latest power shower and task lighting can look exceptionally contemporary without being too ‘futuristic’.

A modern radiator to warm your towels, brand new faucets on a vintage tub or even vintage perfume bottles and soap dishes on a sleek, contemporary surface are just some of the finishing touches that really make your bathroom stand out.

Do frills suffer for functionality in your home? Do you prefer comfort to convenience? I’d love to hear your stories!

Estelle Page is an interior designer and blogger in the process of gutting her bathroom to build a new one. She plans to go quite modern but with faux-vintage touches such as a claw-foot tub to match the style of her original Victorian home.

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