3 Steps into Modernized Transitional Home

Modern Transitional Design

Blending Design Genres to Modernize Outdated Interiors in 3 Simple Steps.

modern traditional design
Designed by Rossie Case

Hello everyone,

In our blog introduction, I talked about my ‘’Organic Contemporary’’ philosophy which is really blending clean, crisp styling with natural materials and chic contemporary furniture to create a luxuriously cozy feeling at home.

Today, we’re exploring how to mix modern interior design elements with traditional architecture to create a feeling of modern, updated luxury in even the most dated of environments. This genre is particularly close to my heart, as I live in the original 1940’s cottage!

Good interior design often requires adhering, at least in part, to the original architectural style. As an example, putting ultra-modern furniture into a classic California ranch-style home would look, well, weird. Going too far against the architectural style with your design can create visual conflict. How do you know if this has been done? While it can be difficult to spot at first, you’ll notice that interiors with this issue feel clumsy, forced, or awkward.

Of course, that doesn’t have to mean you have to be “trapped” in the architectural style of your existing home. With some planning and relatively minor but clever choices, the California Ranch style home can often be “transitioned” to have a Mid Century Modern feel.

Going back to the example of my cottage, we bought it because my husband fell in love with the large picture windows, wood flooring, and original fireplace of our post-WWII cottage. But we also both have a modern aesthetic and didn’t want a home that felt overly traditional. When we set about transforming the interior of WWII cottage into a sort of Santa Barbara soft-contemporary, we took steps to ensure that the space displayed a luxuriously modern feel while embracing the original architectural lines of the cottage. This included incorporating luxury modern rugs to soften the aesthetic and anchor the rooms.

The steps we took mirrored the recommendations presented here.

So let’s get back to you and your space. 

First, let’s look at the key elements of these two styles that modern and traditional are known for.

Modern Design: Clean, flat surfaces, minimalist space-filling, geometric patterns, asymmetric at times.

Traditional Design: Curves, sumptuous textures, florals, comfortably full space, and very symmetrical. 

Notice anything interesting?

That’s right, there are a lot of contradicting elements here. But don’t be discouraged. Balance comes from giving equal emphasis to opposing characteristics. And that’s where design gets fun! We’re going to enhance the extremes to harmoniously balance these genres and create a beautiful interior! 

So let’s get started and create your modern traditional home!

The 3 Steps to Modern Traditional Design!

Get Inspired.

The beginning of great design is inspiration so that’s exactly where we will start. These are some of my favorite modernized interiors.

Part of what I love about these is that they have a timeless feel. Even though we’re talking about ‘’Modern Traditional’’ as one style, the mixed genre can be used to create any number of moods. It’s important to note that fact because while I’ll be using specific examples to illustrate my point, the last thing I want to do is to make you feel limited. You truly have endless options!

Now that you’ve seen some of what I love, it’s time to consider what you love. Years ago people clipped images from catalogs and magazines and saved them in a folder. With the internet and Pinterest, finding and saving inspiration is as easy as the click of a mouse. I name my boards by category and review them periodically to ensure I still like what I see. 

Feel free to check out some of my mood boards with modern traditional style on Pinterest: soft palette, sophisticated, and bold colorful interiors are just a few. Then create your own!


The architecture of your space will dictate where you begin and how you incorporate your style. Consider the following:

”When was the house built?”

”What are the original traditional architecture features?”

“What was the inspiration of the architect?”

A lot of you ask are arches in homes outdated? But they are absolutely not if the remodel is moved in the right direction, arches can feel modern. Still, I still suggest to evaluate everything for the record, from arches, windows, and doors, to moldings and other unique or historical touches. Those elements are part of the character of the home and should stay.

Next, make an inventory of the furniture you already own that you would like to keep. Pay attention to the style category of the items.

Once you’ve done that we’re ready for the fun part … browsing for more! 

I recommend pinning like crazy before purchasing anything. This will give you a feel for how your new and existing items will play into the big picture: your space’s fullness, palette, and overall mood.

Below you’ll find some examples of modern furniture with traditional features. Do you see how the soft curves and simple lines are used to create a contemporary feel?


By now, you should know which pieces you want to work with and what overall mood you want to create. Now it’s time to identify your “design bridges” that will help you to achieve your ultimate goal of a home a unified feel. 

What is a design bridge? It is a single element that unites differing styles within a space. Some creative ideas for ”design bridges” include a piece of furniture that mixes modern and traditional design, a traditional coffered ceiling painted with pop up color, or the addition of contemporary metals to the inside of arched doorways.

Our traditional cottage had arches, moldings, wood floors, kitchen cabinets, and furniture in dark woods that made the space look very outdated, dark, and cluttered. Some of the best design bridges that I used to unify our and  transform it into a beautiful modern home include:

Modern furniture with soft curves that is comfy and chic.

A light color palette including off-white by Benjamin Moore on walls, and white oak wood in flooring, kitchen cabinets, and accent walls around the house. 

Glass railway in a curved balcony.

A pop of color in modern art, paintings, some furniture statement pieces.

Bringing outdoor indoor by living plants in rich green color, fresh flowers. 


Which of these design bridges resonates with you? Make a list of your favorites and consider how you might incorporate them to unify disparate design elements in your home! 

The reveal.

Once you establish your inspiration boards, make your furniture selections, and identify design bridges, you’re ready to pull the room together.

Of course, ultimately all that matters is that you have a home that you love; one that makes you feel good to live in and proud to share.


Through the Discovery Posts I offer some insight into my interior design experience and perspective. We will discuss the real-estate market, ”behind the scenes” of our projects, design trends, and also offer a view of places that you may not have seen before.