Mixing Traditional and Modern Design

Younger generations are discovering and rebranding established interior design ideas including the concept of transitional design. TikTok exploded when interiors influencer Taylor Simon rebranded pops of red in interiors as the theory of “unexpected red”. Her theory remained true to the traditional concept, but the opposite is happening with the concept of transitional design. The traditional transitional concept has been redefined into a look we can call “new transitional” which is defined by neutral colors. Both “traditional” and “new” transitional concepts rely on rug choice to complete the look.

Whether “traditional” or “new” a transitional space is a blend of antique or vintage and new art, design, and furnishings. Actor Jennifer Aniston’s home office designed by Stephen Shadley mixes old and new neutral furnishings to create a “new transitional” space. The room’s focal point is a large antique hand-knotted Tabriz rug in shades of tawny brown. When traditional designs and motifs are updated with new colorways, materials or design alterations, these too are classed as “transitional”.

Who deserves credit as the “inventor” of transitional interior design? In 2011 legendary American designer and interior decorator Bunny Williams described to Elle Decor magazine how one of her recent interior designs was “neither contemporary nor traditional”, but a mix of the two. She decided to call the style “transitional.” Williams celebrates her 80thbirthday in 2024, but her influence continues to filter down to emerging interior designers and decorators.

The difference between a Bunny Williams “traditional transitional” interior and “new transitional” is color. Striking use of color is a consistent feature in Bunny Williams’ transitional interiors. She may paint an entire wall a vibrant blue or add a subtle pop of color with a rug, but color is a key element. The main feature of the transitional style popular on TikTok is a neutral color palette. Design Daddy describes transitional design as a “harmonious blend of traditional and contemporary” where neutrals create a look that is “almost like a hotel room”. Another TikTok influencer echoed Design Daddy’s viewpoint by stating her transitional goal is to create a “soothing and calm atmosphere” using “soft neutral” colors.

Whether you are a fan of traditional or new transitional interior design, rugs can help you achieve the look. Transitional rugs are not new, but have been around for centuries. Rug weavers have always adapted, altered and evolved traditional designs, colors and materials to create a visual bridge between the past and the present. Transitional rugs include antique, vintage and contemporary. This ongoing tradition of transitional rugs means there are almost limitless choices available for you to choose from whether you want a rug with a pop of color for a traditional transitional interior or a rug with a soothing sea of neutral shades to anchor your new transitional room.