A traditional living room should have all of the traditional elements
including hardwood flooring. In colonial and Victorian times, houses of note
were built with highly polished hardwood floors covered with fine carpets to add
design, warmth and insulation.
If you are designing a traditional living room in
the fashion of colonial or Victorian times, be sure you begin with the right
foundation – only then can you design a truly exceptional room.
Arrange Floor Coverings
Refinish and treat your hardwood flooring so that is shines with warmth and
beauty. Then, select a large rug to cover the middle of the room. The rug may be
oriental or have another pattern comprised of small elements. Avoid solid colors
or contemporary designs as these are indications of casual or modern rooms.
Prepare Wall and Window Treatments
In a traditional living room of the past, wall treatments consisted of
wallpaper, wainscoting, picture molding, and paint in almost any combination.
You might hang a chair rail molding over wainscoting. Paint both the wainscoting
and molding white. Hang wallpaper with a floral, hunting, or small stripe
pattern above the wainscoting to finish the look.
Another option for a more formal room would be to install the same chair rail
molding and wainscoting, but create large picture frame moldings above the
wainscoting and fill in the top with a green or blue paint. Pictures in gilded
frames of still-life, portraits or country scenes could be hung centered inside
the picture frame molding.
Windows in your traditional living room should be treated with wooden blinds
or shutters. You should then hang full draperies complete with a liner and heavy
panels at each window. The colors can be light, and the panels should be pulled
back to let in the light, but might have a sash or draw to close the draperies
should you prefer a bit of dark in the room.
Select and Arrange Furniture
Once the floor and walls have been arranged, it is time to assemble your furniture.
Traditional living rooms are almost fussy in their detail regarding furnishing.
A sofa or settee should be placed on the rug and flanked by another sofa or two
upholstered chairs. Furnishings should be small and upholstered with floral or
striped prints which coordinate with the rug and drapes.
Traditional living rooms had more than one seating area, so create another
area for conversation in a corner or by the fireplace with two arm chairs or
straight-back chairs facing each other over a small table. Bring in ottomans,
footstools and stacking tables. You should have a wooden or brass and marble
coffee table along with a large wall piece such as an armoire or curio cabinet.
As you arrange your furnishing, be sure to leave walkways along major traffic
Add Decorative Touches
Finally add curios, lamps, mirrors and pictures with gilded frames and other
decorative touches to complement your hardwood flooring. Candlesticks, chests, and collectibles all can find a home in a
traditional living room. In fact, these rooms were often a showplace of any
manner of items, so feel free to feature your treasures and keepsakes on the
mantle or in the curio cabinet.