Freshen Up your Traditional Home

Do you love the classic beauty of your traditional home, but wish the interior felt more fresh and crisp?

Check out transitional design, an aesthetic that combines traditional and contemporary elements.

“Transitional design is a uniquely American style—it embodies casual elegance,” says George Adamczyk of George Adamczyk & Co., a builder with over 120 houses to his credit in the northern suburbs, Hinsdale and Lincoln Park. “It’s a way to make your home feel fresh, without losing its traditional sensibility.”

Transitional design is on display in every room of a new home built by Adamczyk at 127 Old Green Bay Rd. in Winnetka. With its French Eclectic exterior, this home blends in with the neighboring 1920s-style homes. Once inside, you see the difference.

Adamczyk creates a tension between traditional and contemporary throughout the home. In the living room, for example, he uses a traditional dark wood parquet floor, but it’s bordered by a strip of gray marble along the perimeter.

“We’ve been locked in traditional design for a long time,” Adamczyk says. “This home is inspired by forward-looking design trends on the coasts.”

The home’s kitchen includes high-contrast walnut flooring, white and walnut cabinets—some of which have antiqued mirror facings—a stainless steel sink and countertop, a glass tile backsplash, and a light-colored granite island and breakfast table.

How to bring transitional design into your traditional home? Adamczyk advises starting with lighting— make sure it’s not all yellow incandescent bulbs by adding halogen ceiling lights to pinpoint art, for example. Adding mirrored and tiled surfaces will also freshen a room. For the more ambitious, Adamczyk suggests replacing the railings on your staircases, and repainting in a neutral, cool color palette (think grays, whites, deep browns and bluish reds—absolutely no tans, golds or orange-reds allowed!).

Evanston-based Annette LeCompte of Annette LeCompte Interiors offers quick and fabulous ways to get the transitional look.

  • Update your lighting: Replace your lampshades with something clean and contemporary, such as a modern drum shade
  • Go to your local fabric store and buy an Ikat or Suzani print and have new pillows made
  • Buy a Lucite table or chair from CB2 or Design Within Reach
  • A small mirrored table will immediately add a pop; for a low-priced option, try Target
  • Paint a piece of furniture high-gloss black, or turquoise
  • Treat yourself to a Missoni throw from Barney’s New York or Bucktown’s Stitch. Spread it out horizontally on the back of your sofa for maximum impact and instant chic

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