New Traditional Decorating – Little Known Ideas You’ll Love

Hey Everyone,

Wow! It’s the last day of May. And, today, the weather in Northampton, MA, was a perfect 10.

Aside from the nasty allergy issues, I’m having a terrific time here.

Today, my son Cale took me to Deals and Steals.

Oh my! We walked out with four bags filled with all kinds of delicacies for only 70 bucks.


Deals and Steals Northampton, MA


I even found a pair of denim shorts for one dollar. I mean, how can you go wrong? And, they fit perfectly.


That right there made it a super-good day.


However, the “smart” TV in my AirBNB has a whopping seven channels available. Ms. Geek (me) tried to figure it out. Alas, I could not. But, last night after not hearing the news for over two weeks, something told me to turn it on. It seems that my intuition did feel the intense rumblings of a tumultuous world. Immediately after sending out my HOT SALES on Friday evening, I turned on CNN on my laptop.


Of course, like the rest of the nation, I was horrified by what I saw going on.


I don’t want to make a big statement only to acknowledge that I’m aware.

However, times are hard enough, and violence never solved anything. Although I understand the intense anger and frustration behind it entirely. And, that’s all I want to say except that I plan to keep spreading beauty, joy, and love whenever and wherever I can.

(note: Sunday morning. I just got a nasty email. Please. Just stop it. That’s all. Just stop it.)

Also, thank you all so much for the great comments regarding Wednesday’s post. I hope I didn’t offend too many people with my stairs comment. Of course, some people have issues with stairs, no matter their age. I hope it’s understood that I wasn’t talking about that.


Today, we’re revisiting a magnificent home by a reader named Lori. I love her new traditional decorating style! So, I wanted to do an update because this is such an incredible dream home, too.


You might recall the spectacular job she did “botoxing” her the kitchen in her Greek Revival, gorgeous home.


Laurel? What does “botoxing a kitchen” mean?


Oh, sorry, I thought you knew. ;] It means a renovation that does not involve putting in any new cabinetry. What is there is usually painted and with new hardware. It’s often a fantastic solution when money is tight. So, if you haven’t already, please check out the amazing job Lori did with renovating her kitchen.


However, I’m not finished as she indicated that her new traditional decorating was not quite finished.


I asked Lori to send in some pics of the rest of the house.

These are from the real estate listing. These are not Lori’s furnishings.

Thank God.



parlor Greek Revival home - before


This is Lori’s magnificent double parlor in the previous iteration. (from the real estate pics, before she purchased the home)

Aren’t you just dying to move that chair out-of-the-way? It’s a good thing to remember that just because furniture looks good in a room doesn’t mean that it’ll look good in a photo.

It is fine to move a piece that’s in the way for the sake of a photo. (that’s an ancient post that nobody ever reads)


Unfortunately, it’s the least of our problems.


The first thing that jumps out at me is that the poor dear windows put on their slips, but forgot to put on their dresses.


Also, the flouncy “slips” err– sheer draperies/weird valances need far more weight for this grand home. And by weight, I mean a much heavier fabric, like a beautiful opaque lined linen. Not only that, but this froo-froo style of window treatment isn’t working for me in any kind of classically designed home. Plus, they look super cheap.

Please check out this post; also, for some other window treatment ideas that look like they cost more than they do.

While there are some issues with what precise era this home is, if it were my home and I was doing classical decorating in the Greek Revival style, I would paint most of the mouldings a beautiful, creamy, semi-gloss white.

Indeed, the mouldings in one room have been painted but not in its twin room. I find that odd.


But that’s not all that’s bothersome.


If I were to keep the mahogany/walnut stained moulding, I wouldn’t put a mahogany/walnut coffee table in front of it.

Right? It’s too much of the same.


I would do something like this fabulous, classical black Chinoiserie Ming coffee table.

Unfortunately, it’s no longer available.


Mid Century Michael Taylor for Baker Furniture - new traditional decorating - Long and Low Chinoiserie Hardwood Coffee Table on Etsy! only $440!

However, I found this gorgeous Mid Century Michael Taylor for Baker Furniture coffee Table on Etsy! Only $440!


And then I would style the top with some books and maybe a fabulous  blue and white Chinoiserie vase. And this would work beautifully, even if we didn’t change the trim.

But let’s say that we didn’t change the stained wood mouldings; the next issue is the wall color.




With the furnishings, it’s all kind of like an Easter Egg and, that’s not working for me.


Not that I have anything against Easter or Easter eggs; however, if one is going to have hefty reddish-brown trim in their new traditional decorating, then it should balance out with a rich, deep wall color. And, there are dozens of beautiful Benjamin Moore colors in the Laurel Home Paint and Palette Collection.


A few fabulous Benjamin Moore paint colors that I could see here are:


Benjamin Moore cleveland green 1525

  • Cleveland Green – a warm, bronze-y green with a lot of brown in it. It’s a fabulous neutral– goes with everything.


Benjamin Moore Chelsea Gray hc 168

  • Chelsea Gray – A warm, deep gray with a tiny touch of taupe-y brown.


  • Smoked Oyster – This is a fabulous color that is veering towards brown but with a beautiful lavender undertone. I did this color once for clients and also saw it in an old home in Boston, where I stayed once.


Benjamin Moore Gray Owl

  • Gray owl – Gray owl is a lovely gray-blue-green that looks terrific with stained wood.


parlor Greek Revival home - before


Benjamin Moore silver lake 1598


There are many other colors that would work, as well.


But, a color, without enough gray, that’s too pastel does not usually work with brown trim. Of course, there are other colors like a warm red that look good with wood, as well.

For a terrific post that shares many other terrific colors that go with stained wood, go here.

The colors that go with red brick are also all excellent choices.

Another post that has colors that look sensational with wood trim is this post about exterior paint colors.


What about the upholstery Laurel?


Yeah, good question. Well, if I wanted to sell this home, I would do white furniture. White slipcovers would be wonderful. 

White always looks fresh. And, my view is that fresh is always good, even in an old home.


Serena and Lily - - new traditional decorating - All Pillows and Throws on sale - up to 25 off

Or, if the budget permits, I’d head over to Serena & Lily for some beautiful upholstered pieces.

(and also many gorgeous examples of new traditional decorating.)

By the way, all of their fabulous outdoor furnishings are currently on sale. Please check out some of my favorites here.


In addition, I would do something far more interesting for the throw pillows.


Plus, they are too small. For the average sofa, I never do smaller than a 20″ square. Sometimes I’ll do a 22″ square behind the smaller pillow.

As an aside, f you’d like to learn hundreds of decorating rules that I’ve gleaned over the years, please consider getting my 333 Rules & Tips You Need to Know.

There are hundreds of fabulous pillows and fabrics on the market, and they could’ve gone to Etsy and gotten some far more interesting pillows.

Okay, there’s more I could say, but we need to go back to Lori’s beautiful kitchen with the adjoining family room and dining area.


The kitchen doesn’t need much. No window treatments, if possible.

There could be lanterns or pendants over the island, but the windows are so spectacular that I’m feeling fine as they are. I do miss the TV screen, though. hahahahaha! (you can see that here)


new traditional decorating - beautiful white kitchen renovation - Benjamin Moore White Dove

It would be cool to do a display of blue and white Chinoiserie porcelains over the fridge.

I checked with Lori, and she said that she’s cool with that idea and that there’s plenty of room.


Some of you may have been wondering why you can’t see the bottoms of some things in front of the big window.


odd window sill behind kitchen counter - new traditional decorating

This is why. So, maybe a solution would be to put everything in there on a block that raises it to the height of the counter? Not sure. Does anyone have any ideas about this area?

Aside from that, I LOVE the Chinoiserie ginger jars, but I am also thinking about how fabulous it would be to have two gorgeous lamps instead. I adore lamps in kitchens.

(that is… if there’s a place to plug them in)


If you go and look at the HOT SALES page, you’ll see one of my favorite blue and white Chinoiserie lamps ever by Ralph Lauren. And, it’s currently on sale.


For the family room area, I’m good.


It’s a small area, and there’s no room to put anything under the TV unless wants to have perpetually purple toes and shins.

The only small thing is that the pillows that I love are dictating the color scheme to some extent, although there are more colors in the artwork.


Let’s review the living and dining area in this beautiful space.



Greek Revival renovation family room stairs - new traditional decorating

dining area Greek Revival renovation


hot house flowers in spark - new traditional decorating

Hothouse Flowers in Spark Pillow from Lily on Blue


But if one wanted to change the pillows, the same pattern comes in this colorway (above), which I love, too.

The dining area, I noticed in one photo that the table was going one way, and in another, it was going perpendicular to that. So, the space must be fairly square.

I like the dining area a lot, but I thought it would be fun to play with it a little.


Ebay Regency dining table


I’m thinking a round table. It doesn’t have to be, but I love round dining tables.

19th c dining table ebay - - new traditional decorating

I found this one that’s very pretty on eBay. It might need some refurbishing, but it’s not expensive.

Great round tables are difficult to find.


I would change the rug to a square rug. She could do a custom seagrass rug. (please see the widget below for where to get one.) Square gorgeous rugs are also in the category of not easy-to-find. I do love the one Lori has, but with a round table, it should be square. Or, no rug at all.


Why not a round rug with a round table?


It’s just me. I’m not a fan of 98% of them. Sometimes the patterns don’t look believable. And some look a little granny-like, IMO. (please remember that I’m old enough to be a great granny.)


ebay six Chinese Chippendale dining chairs need reupholstery

I found these Chinese Chippendale chairs on eBay, as well. They’re very pretty. However, I would get them reupholstered and have the upholsterer make a proper tight seat. The way they are done is kind of strange.


Another chair option would be to do a French Louis XVI-style chair.


Mark D Sikes side chairs with Schumacher stripe fabric - new traditional decoratingThis is a good example of a Louis XVI style chair. It is one of  Mark D Sikes‘ beautiful dining chairs. Mark is the king of new tradtional design! I adore these chairs. However, they’re quite expensive.

Wisteria Louis Chateau fabric back dining chair

Wisteria makes a similar chair for a lot less money. Yes, you’d have to paint it. I know it seems weird to paint a new chair, but it’s currently on sale for only $244.

Unfortunately, I tried to find one of these with a frame already painted white, but wasn’t successful.

Tuva side chair Ballard DesignsI did find this pretty chair at Ballard Designs. It’s only $359 for two chairs. But, I think that it too could use another coat of paint. For some situations, however, the way it is would be fine.

For fabric, you could have it upholstered in an indoor/outdoor performance fabric.


I’ve made a widget below and included three performance fabrics. But, there are many dozens that would be beautiful. Sometimes for these French chairs, I use two fabrics. I’ve done a solid on the front and a print or geometric on the back. Or, you could reverse that. Or do the entire chair in a stripe.



I’ve added some accessories for the kitchen and a few other pieces that could go in this area. This is meant as an alternative to what Lori did.

I hope this gives you some good ideas for more new traditional decorating. But, mostly, I hope that everyone is doing alright. I’m praying for peace and good health; now, more than ever!

Much Love,



PS: Please check out the newly updated Hot Sales. There’s also a fun Father’s Day Gift Guide. FD is in three weeks.


25 Responses

  1. I remember that kitchen and how stunning the transformation was! I just love the huge windows and everything the homeowner did to transform it! And I am such a fan of classic blue and white. As always, love your blog post and the ideas for decorating options. I sympathize with your allergy struggles – this year has been especially bad where we are. Take care and be safe!

  2. Love your post! The Kitchen is beautiful and I would also like to see some type of lantern above the island. Maybe an open style? I also like the area behind the sink. A lamp would be great and if there is no plug Google Modern Lantern. They are gorgeous and operate on rechargeable batteries. I bought one a few years ago and I love it! They even have some antique lamps they converted to battery. I sure hope your medication starts working!!!

  3. Hi Laurel,
    Love your posts as usual but I wanted to send some extra sympathy for the allergy issues. While gardening over a week ago, I got bitten by fire ants. The bites never healed but turned into ugly blisters. And then the rash and the hives started. My right arm is the worst but I have them on my left arm too and my legs, and more hives on my stomach and neck. Ice was the only thing that helped. Like you, I couldn’t sleep much at night with the itching and the burning pain. I finally decided to risk COVID and go into urgent care and the doctor gave me SIX prescriptions. One of the swollen areas had turned into cellulitis. So anyway, now I’m on prednisone, antibiotics, two antihistamines, pepcid acid and Tylenol with codeine. I’m drugged out of my mind and of course it’s a super busy week at work. But at least things seem to be getting better. So maybe your doctor needs to up your meds too? Hope you feel better soon!

    1. oh, you poor thing! That sounds really awful. But, yes, my doctor put me on prednisone on Monday and I’m already doing better. Please feel better soon!

  4. There always has to be someone who simply must scold. As to your hands, have you touched any unfamiliar plants since you’ve been in Northampton? I once got a horrible skin reaction after handling a gas plant, Dictamnus albus. My skin appeared as with a first degree burn, and peeled off. English ivy can also cause a dermatitis. I hope it goes away. I enjoyed the post – thank you for your work that we get to enjoy for free.

  5. Fabulous post! I’m so often of two minds when it comes to painting wood trim. Well, not new wood trim, but original trim in a craftsman, for example, I’m torn. I’m with you that it looks better, sharper, prettier, but then you’ve lost that original feel, too, after you paint. Erin Napier says she has a general rule–she won’t paint oak or mahogany or any of the finer woods.

  6. Hi Laurel –
    For the drop behind the kitchen sink, they could place potted plants, topiaries, orchids, etc. and surround them with smooth river rocks (uniform grey rocks, about 2″ size). This way it looks like that space has a real purpose.

  7. Thank you for all of your lovely and informative posts ! I enjoy your sense of humor and look forward to reading everyone of your blogs ! Grateful to have something to take my mind off of these trying times 😘

  8. Awww, that was nice, I want to be part of your bloggy family! So sorry about your hands, something like that can ruin your time with your real family. Please let us know how you are getting along and if someone figures out what it is. I immediately thought of some allergy causing hand sanitizer/soap/lotion but that should get better a lot faster than this.

  9. I have a bunch of skin allergies, and my go to ointment is calmoseptine. It’s otc and really helps to calm the itchy/burning feeling temporarily. I usually use it together with oral drugs.

  10. i remeber how this reader trasnformed the kitchen, just stunning. The house is amazing all around. As to the drop behind the sink, to me it seems to be intended for plants. I would get window boxes that size or have them built and fill them with herbs.

  11. Hi Laurel,
    I’m sorry to read about the problems you’re experiencing with your hands. I hope it’s resolved soon. It seems unbearable.
    I really like the things you said could be done or added to Lori’s home. Her home is so lovely. Maybe she’ll send in pictures of other rooms in a few years when so recovered from her kitchen Botox.

  12. Thank you for all the beauty you share. Feeling so heavy hearted over the current circumstances,, I thought to myself, where to look? And of course your blog was the first thing in my mind. The human soul (and all living things) needs beauty and light and space, and you deliver in spades. Thank you.

  13. Laurel,
    I live in Owensboro, KY just one hour from Evansville! Following a link via Glampad, I discovered you during this pandemic and have wasted (oops, whiled away) MANY hours following your many links. I love going down the rabbit hole with you. At 57 years old, I have learned some things. Thanks for all your hard work.

  14. I absolutely loved your blog today! We have a 1990 version of a Greek Revival home in San Diego. Lots of swiss coffee white molding/wainscoating. But loved your tips on paint color options near stained wood. Still remodeling the Family rooms, where my husband purchased a large hand-carved wood fireplace surround (dark walnut). Our floors are a dark-stained french oak. Fireplace is on a north-facing back wall, so my thought is to add molding to that back wall and paint it a warm white – Is DE Swiss Coffee a good color against that? I didn’t see any white options in your paint collection for complementing stained wood trim/or fp. I do love Grey Owl & Silverlake, but worried that we’re already in a North room that’s dark, but large. The semi-gloss white will likely have more reflection in the FR, similar to adjoining kitchen/also with dark floors. Thoughts?

  15. Laurel, during this difficult time, reading your blog has been like a walk beside the lake. As a traveler, escaping from Peru just before they shut it down due to the pandemic, I returned home to a 14 day isolation and plunged into transforming our old rec room (TV room actually) from a cluttered “hoarder’s paradise”, a storehouse for other peoples’ belongings, to a sanctuary of calming Twilight Blue walls, antiques, an oriental rug, moody lighting and an English-rolled arm sofa. Most of these ideas were not in my mind until I discovered your blog. For the past few months your enjoyable and expert advice has helped divert my attention and focus on creation rather than rumination. For that, I am exceedingly grateful.

  16. Laurel, I am from Minneapolis and it’s been a horrifying and sad time here. This is the first time I’ve been on your blog in six days and I feel refreshed by its beauty. God created beauty, it’s balm for the soul. Be safe.

  17. Love your blog posts and writing and how you connect with readers. I can imagine how shocking it was to turn on the news after two weeks. I’m sorry someone sent you a nasty email. I think the sentence “violence never solved anything” probably hit the wrong note. Most people and most people protesting George Floyd’s death don’t think violence solves anything. But the way it reads is that you are commenting on the rioting, but not fully acknowledging the slow suffocation of George Floyd by a police officer with three police at his side. You can delete this post so as not to start a big thread on this. I understand what you’re saying/not saying, I respect you, and I want to acknowledge that you have a platform and if you choose to address the news, it is probably best to address George Floyd’s tragic murder first. Respectfully, Joanna

    1. Gosh, guys. Please let this go!

      I probably didn’t make it clear. I hadn’t turned on the news in over two weeks. However, I knew through local news that something had taken place; but didn’t pay a lot of attention to it. Stories of police brutality are not uncommon. But, this? What you say is beyond horrifying. There are some exceedingly sick people in this world. I can’t watch stuff like that, in any case. I do hope that justice is served and those men pay for what they did.

      The reason I addressed it which I probably also didn’t make clear is that after I sent out my hot sales, and then turned on the news, I felt totally lame. I really did feel like I was living in a bubble and that’s not me, normally.

      Some know and some don’t. But, I’m living in Massachusetts for an extended period in an Airbnb.

      I’m also trying not to do a “poor me” but I’m having a helluva time with a painful, burning, itching, swollen fingers/palms blistering rash situation on both of my hands. I’ve never had anything like this before. It’s affecting my quality of life and the ability to get a decent night’s sleep. Last night I only had two hours. The medication my dr. prescribed hasn’t made a dent. In fact, it’s worse. Ice packs are the only thing that provides any relief, albeit, short-lived. Conversely, my normal shower water feels like I’m torching my fingers. It’s the weirdest thing ever. I contacted my dr. again, early on Friday and he didn’t get back to me. That was most likely because he didn’t get the message.

      My son made me a smoothie this morning. What a treat!!!

      That was my other point. Life is ALREADY hell on earth for so many. I’m so sick of people fighting and hurting each other.

      Okay, this was much more than I wanted to say.

      Thanks, Guys. I love each of you and consider you to be part of my family.

  18. As an interior designer, I would handle that odd space behind the sink with intention. I would either purchase or have made a number of organically shaped wooden pedestals at different heights and a diameter that would fit each item and the space behind the sink. I would most likely use a wood tone like the wood of the bar stools. I would plan out this display very carefully! I would find the anchor pieces, maybe the existing blue and white jars, and plan out the other items accordingly. The homeowner could also change items for each season or holiday, if she was into that. Love your blog!

  19. Another enjoyable post, you seem to be enjoying your time in western MA! Have you gone up to Poet’s Seat Tower? The view is good for the soul, especially now.

    take care, Robin

  20. I read your post regarding pillows and your comments above about not using anything less than 20”. Does this hold true when there are two loveseats instead of two standard sofas? What size and how many pillows would you recommend for loveseats?

  21. Hi,
    Love this post! I was wondering about her painting just the chairs in her dining room? Would that look wonky or just better left as is?

  22. What a beautiful home! The items displayed in the “well” behind the kitchen counter don’t bother me at all. If they don’t bother the homeowner (she may like the whimsy of it; I do) I would say leave them. If she wants to try raising some of them up, I’ve used glasses and vases from the dollar store, turned upside down, for a similar purpose in my kitchen cupboards. Work great and super cheap.

  23. In the kitchen window I wonder if a piece of sculptural art or tall narrow vase that is in a white tone and not too heavy looking would do the same as putting items on stands. The items feel too short for me like a garden at the beginning of the growing season

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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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