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Modern & Colonial Styles That Are Not a Bad Match

Classic colonial décor isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you’re intending a contemporary interior design look. However, the basic elements of this historical style have much to offer the modern aesthetic. In fact, it’s a natural fit into the current trend toward minimalistic room design.


Beyond this comfortable friendship between colonial and minimalistic design, the colonial style has something else to add to current interior design. It provides meaning and depth to what otherwise can end up being a sort of one-size-fits-all design template.


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The problem with minimalistic décor is there isn’t a lot of room for depth in its sparse design. The history that colonial style brings to the party creates that depth, developing interest and intrigue instead of ho-hum bare space.


You can achieve this happy play between modern and historical in your room design by following five simple steps.


1. Use Natural Colors in Your Design

The classic colonial color scheme leans toward the serious when tones of gray to grayish blue, golden yellows, creamy whites, and deep maroon reds are paired with touches of brown or black. We’re talking grown-up looks here. Bright or neon colors and pastels are not invited to this soiree.


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The photo above is an example of the colonial color palette in the gray-blue tones.


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The above photo shows the palette in yellow tones.


Notice the sober feel of both rooms?


Contrast that to a room with a bright blue wall.


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Although the above space also has grays and blues and touches of brown, the bright wall kicks the colonial out of the room.


2. Include the Look of Handmade Textiles

The classic colonial décor style was heavy on craftsmanship. Hooked or braided rugs lay on hand-hewn floors. Needlecrafts were used for pillows and wall hangings. Beds were covered with quilts, and window coverings were simply sewn in natural fabrics.


Although the modern colonial look doesn’t have to adhere strictly to the handmade standard, it should at least harken back to that idea. In other words, it shouldn’t scream fabricated.


Photo by Stelmakh Oxana on Shutterstock

In the room above, for example, although the rug probably isn’t handmade, it could be. The wood floor isn’t overly sleek. And the curtain panels are simple. Because the furnishings also have simple lines (we’ll get to that step in a second), the design breathes colonial into the room.


In the bedroom, if you don’t love quilts but want that colonial feel, try adding quilting to just one element of your bedding.


Photo by Stelmakh Oxana on Shutterstock

Something as simple as putting up a cross stitch wall hanging can invite the colonial into your space too.


3. Keep Furniture Pieces Simple

The colonial look doesn’t have room for elaborate ornamentation or detailing. Stick with rustic, Windsor, and ladder-back wood stylings in your furniture choices.


Photo by Olivier Le Queinec on Shutterstock

You don’t need to have antiques. You just need the straight or clean lines, not the actual age.


4. Use Traditional Accessories

Colonial accessories include metals such as pewter, tin, or brass. They also include crockery. And you can add touches of wicker.


Photo by WichitS on Shutterstock

5. Keep it Spare and Clutter-free

This last step to creating a colonial look is the one that makes the colonial style a great friend of minimalism. Colonial interiors have lots of open space in their floor plans, and they are light on accessories. If you’re a hoarder, this style is not for you.


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Be aware, however, that you can go too far with this step. Don’t strip it down so much that it loses any semblance of warmth.


Photo by Sandra Schramm on Shutterstock

The simple addition of a woven runner or plain curtain panels or framed needlework in the above room would elevate it from monastery-plain to inviting colonial.


Any time you can include a bit of history in your interior design, you’re going to add flair to it. Creating the suggestion of colonial styling with the above five steps can deliver that flair without going overboard into Grandma’s House, Antique Store, or Welcome to the Museum. You can have both modern and classic in a perfect pairing of inviting room design.


Have you played with adding colonial stylings to your interior décor? What colonial touches have worked for you?

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