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Modern Homes, Classic Designs:Our guide to incorporating historic decor into contemporary properties

Whether looking to add style, sophistication or make a statement with your interiors, a tried and true design technique may be just what’s needed—even in a contemporary home.

Utilizing historic decor—a wide category that can be as recent as the last century or with roots as far back as medieval times—can be as simple as selecting one or two key pieces, or as thorough as embracing wall coverings and color palettes, but when done right, the result is an enamoring fusion between new and old.

In this special five-day series, we’ll explore Chinoiserie; Art Deco; Moorish; Classic and Mid-Century Modern design styles, and share tips from experts on everything you need to know about their roots and how to embrace them in your home.

Creating Elegance with Chinoiserie, the Iconic, European Design Style

Photo: Molly Culver

“Read any design book, blog post, or shelter magazine and you’ll quickly discover chinoiserie is one of the most loved design styles,” said Elle Cole of Elle Cole Interiors in Dallas.

“Chinoiserie,” derived from the French word “chinois,” translates to “Chinese,” but this Western interpretation of East Asian decor was actually established in Europe in the 17th century. These days, even in contemporary spaces, interior designers still gravitate toward chinoiserie.

Art Deco Design for Modern Interiors

Photo: Carleton Varney / Dorothy Draper & Co

Maybe you’re drawn to the graphic detail or you gravitate towards the gilded finishes and rich materiality—the lure of Art Deco is undeniable. With a distinct aesthetic, the design harkens back to the glamor of Old Hollywood and the Roaring ‘20s. Born from a backlash against the Art Nouveau movement, a stylized genre that emulated forms found in nature, Art Deco embraced the newfound industry and technology of the day and showcased vibrant, futuristic and machine-made elements, said Allison Knizek of Allison Knizek Design in Sherman Oaks, California.

Moorish Design Offers Myriad Ways to Spice up a Modern Interior

Photo: Californian

Developed over centuries from a vast range of influences, Moorish design is surprisingly versatile, offering myriad opportunities to craft a unique contemporary interior that exudes character and originality.

Moorish architecture and interior design were born in medieval North Africa, Spain and Portugal, which were once a single empire known as Al-Andalus, ruled by the Almoravids, an Islamic dynasty based in Morocco.

The Art of Adding Classical Details to a New Home

Photo: Jane Beiles

A new house might feature amenities aplenty yet be short on what some home buyers desire most: character.

Thankfully, with a little bit of artistry and expertise, a space lacking historical details can be reimagined. Integrating neoclassical style––also sometimes called “classical”––can transform a cookie-cutter house into a residence brimming with personality.

Mastering Mid-Century Modern Design Techniques at Home

Photo: Trevor Tondro

Clean lines, simplicity, form and function—those are the building blocks of Mid-Century Modern design.

Anchored by statement-making pieces like the Eames lounge chairs and George Nelson Marshmallow sofa, Mid-Century Modern design is defined by architecture, furniture and graphic design from the middle of the 20th century, though some interior designers say the heyday of the period was actually between 1947 to 1957.


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