10 WAYS TO KICK UP CLASSIC DECOR- Classic decor can be kicked up with a little sass and fun! Keep classic decor interesting! Here's how!I adore classic decor. I like the word “classic” so much better for decor than”traditional”. Traditional has a dowdy ring to it! I strive to keep my decor on the classic side, but I certainly don’t want it to look staid or stale. Sometimes these styles can get stuck in decades past. Not in my house! And you should say the same thing too. If you love classic decor like I do here are 10 ways to kick classic up a notch and make it look very updated and chic!

Today is HOME STYLE SATURDAY. My blogging friends and I are pulling out the best of the best archives and sharing them with you! Make sure to visit the posts at the bottom of this page.


Ready to update? My living room is probably the most classically decorated room in my home. Here’s how I kicked it up a few notches…



Add something personalized. Like a pillow, tray, acrylic box or chair back. Add a little punch of color or a fun rug. Something that “looks like you”!

I know that a zebra rug is not for everyone, but it is for me! Do what you love!



To keep traditional decor from getting too serious infuse a little fun, whimsy or a modern element to a room. One great fun piece will totally change the room!

This fun chair was purchased for an upstairs bedroom but when we unpacked it in the foyer I knew it would never make it upstairs. It really added a fun casual look to my formal living room! Who knew!!!



Don’t get too symmetrical. Try offsetting something in your room! Or add a little rustic to your refined. The idea is to have something that looks just a little surprising, a little askew… a juxtaposition. Now that adds interest!

Even pillows can add a bit of asymmetry!  

I added a bit of yellow this summer to the front of StoneGable. I really like the way it pops!



Today’s curtains are sleek and not fussy at all. They don’t drip with trim or yards of fabric. Go for a classic fabric and pattern but keep them very simple.

I go back and forth about changing out these curtains. They are simple and I love the pattern and fabric but maybe another fabric would make the room even more updated! What do you think?



Don’t discount the value of a rug!!!! They can often make a room. Try adding a non-traditional rug to a traditional room and see what happens! Instant update!

Try sisal, animal skins, acid washed orientals. All great choices to work with classic decor! Layer rugs too for a very updated effect.

I know my zebra rug may not be everyone’s pick but for me it makes my heart flutter every time I walk in the room! Find what makes your heart flutter and add it to your classic furnishings!



Replace lots of tiny accents with just a few bigger ones. Look for big lanterns, galvanized metal objects, great faux plants and anything that is trendy and works with your room.

Bigger and fewer is better!

On the Curlacue (yes, that’s how the manufacturer spells it) chest I opted for a huge lantern on one side of it. And I gathered up a couple burlap covered books and a plant in a wire basket. Voila, updated classic! All reasonably priced with lots of texture and interest.



I can’t stress enough how much wall paint will make a difference in the look of a room.  Take down any wallpaper over five years old or repaint if you have not done it in a while. 

The trend right now is lighter walls. Find a color that works with your furnishings!

These walls used to be a butter yellow and I loved them! When I was ready for an updated color I chose a soft bone called Sonnet by Benjamin Moore. Best decor decision I have made in this house hands down!



Art is such a subjective thing. I say if you love it… leave it! But if you are ready for an updated look try hanging architectural pieces, a big clock, or some funky, conversation provoking art! 

I have three pieces of art in this room.  A painting by a local DC artist, Daniel Kessler I’ve had for a few years. It’s certainly not traditional and has a modern folk art feel. And one of the most asked questions on my blog is about this giclee. It was actually the inspiration for the update of the living room.

The second is the big clock. Yes, I consider it a piece of art. It is unusual and dramatic. You can see it HERE.

And I have a trio of big chippy frames with old architectural pieces hung on burlap covered canvases. You can see how easy it was to make them HERE.

I must confess I have some very good and traditional art hanging around in my basement gathering dust. But I think it really dates the look of my home. So I opt for more quirky pieces!



Okay, you knew I had to talk about pillows. Whenever a change is needed think… PILLOWS! They are inexpensive and FABULOUS!

I think pillows are the quickest way to update a classic look. Gone are the days of excessive trim and heavy pillows. Think light, fun, and lots of them!

There is nothing too prim and proper about these fun pillows! Black, yellow and white! What a great way to add fun and not so traditional color to my neutral classic room!



Nothing says dated like furnishings that are too matchy-matchy! Or a “suit” (or suite) of anything. But don’t get rid of them. Separate them! If you have all golden oak case pieces paint one, use one and replace one with something that works with the others. It’s really not hard.

Same with that cherry or mahogany dining room furniture. You might keep the table, paint the chairs and replace the hutch with open shelves or a long cement topped buffet. That is just what I did and it worked for several years. Recently I replaced the table too.

In the living room, there is hardly a piece that matches another. But all the fabrics and patterns and finishes work together. The key? Neutrals, lots of texture and patterns that play nicely together! And don’t forget something fun!

Those are my top 10 ways to kick up traditional or classic furnishings!!!! What’s one way you like to update a classic look? Please share.



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  1. As always, you share the best decor ideas! Thank you!

  2. What a helpful post! I have one of Daniel Kessler’s cow prints in my son’s room and love it.

  3. Yvonne, you covered some great ways to kick up classic dĂ©cor! I think it is fun to add something unexpected or whimsical to a classic room. This can be done easily with art, pillows or other accessories. Using McKensie – Childs’ fun porcelain designs in a classic room is a good example. Taking an item and using it for a different purpose, other than its intended use, is another example.

  4. The pop of yellow was unexpected and stunning!

  5. These are all great suggestions and will work in any home. I am currently updating a few rooms and your ideas are very helpful. I love the neutral color and subtle pattern of your living room curtains. I am currently shopping for curtains for my dining room. I definitely want patterned curtains. I can’t decide between a subtle pattern or a larger one, maybe with medallions.

  6. Jan Fusco says:

    I love your zebra rug! I have a sisal rug in my entry area that has gotten a few stains on it. I’ve thought of adding an animal print rug over it. I was wondering if animal print rugs are hard to clean. Do you vacuum it? How do you clean yours?

    1. I second this post! I have been considering getting a zebra rug for awhile, but worry about maintenance. Would you mind sharing where you got yours and how you clean it? Thank you! 🙂 Love your blog!

      1. Great question, Rose! If your pelt is real (mine is cow what has been treated to look like a zebra) then it is so easy to keep clean. My cat got sick on the zebra rug so I took it outside and shook it out and then used just plain water to clean up the stain. It came right out.

        Hope this helps.

  7. I love your decorating style and now I feel like I can try to do it myself. I love how you change things up – adding a pop of color, rugs, fun pieces. I think it really pulls the room together. Thank you so much for sharing – Stonegable is my favorite place for inspiration!

    1. Hi Carol! So happy to hear that! You inspire me to keep bringing my best to the blog!

  8. Jill Miglin says:

    Hi Yvonne,
    I have loved your zebra rug for quite a while. Unfortunately something like that would quite go in my rooms. I’ve been trying to find a leopard print upholstery fabric that would look good on a wood framed chair with a cherry finish. So far, no luck. But I keep looking. Love animal prints as accents!

  9. Love the pops of yellow, looks very fresh.I am headed in the same direction in my own home.

  10. Love it all ! Great information I’ll be applying.
    Yvonne, can you please tell me where you purchased your spool chairs? Love them and are they comfy?
    Thanks @ bunch…

    1. The spool chairs, or as I call them “bubble chairs” came from Ethan Allen. They are super comfy. They are the most comfortable “seat” in my home. You can find much more reasonably priced spool chairs at Wayfair or Joss and Main. Hope this helps.

  11. Always, always love your posts. Don’t think I have ever read one that I didn’t pick up at least one new idea.

    1. I’m thrilled to hear this Carol! That is just what I try to do in every post.

  12. Robbyn Mendleski says:

    The lettered ping pong balls are awesome! An unexpected pop of whimsey. Share your source??

    1. They are actually made of porcelain. I found them at the Pottery Barn.

  13. I have a very traditional room which I love. However, I want to add something unexpected for summer look. Just want to make sure that end look is intentional not thrown together. I suppose traditional with just enough (20% or so) other to make a happy balance.

  14. Laura Harrie says:

    Leave your curtains alone, they are quite lovely. Classic style doesn’t need to be changed. Just my humble opinion!

      1. Cindy Robertson says:

        Love your room!!! Where did you get your curtains in your living room?

        1. Hi Cindy, I got the material from Ethan Allen on sale and made them. EA has gorgeous material!

  15. I love your 10 tips, and venture to say you could apply them to update just about any style. I so enjoyed this post, and I think it was because you are encouraging everyone to let their own “fun” and “unexpected” choices to show through. Yes, your home is classic, but it is totally you and reflects your personality. I love it! Thanks for sharing!

  16. Yvonne, only because you asked, am I commenting on the curtains. Your home decor is impeccable! You bring classic sass to the farmhouse in a delightful way which I LOVE. I know it’s “style” to hang curtains off to the side of windows like you have done, but in my mind, they look a bit awkward and heavy and without purpose. The side of the room with no curtain is much more visually refreshing to me. You do just a wonderful job of artfully arranging your vignettes and wall art that the drapes are just “there.” Even if you chose a color or a strong pattern I would feel the same. BUT… it really isn’t what “I” prefer. It’s YOUR home, Yvonne, and if those curtains elicit a feeling that delights you… then they are PERFECT for your home. And in the end… you are so talented you don’t need my stamp of approval or anyone’s. <3 Thanks for always being so inspiring… and real. xo

  17. Suzanne Pope says:

    What a beautiful play of texture and neutrals! Where do the chunky sisal looking rugs come from?

  18. Gerry Moore says:

    Hello Yvonne,
    Would you mind telling me the manufacturer of the white farmhouse clock that is shown in the pic of your living room area?

    Thank you!


  19. Hi Yvonne. Can you please tell me the size the Daniel Kessler painting you have. I would like to purchase one.

    thank you,

    1. Please go to his site and he has many sizes that might suit the space in your home.

  20. Hi: You are not the only one that loves snow, I am so happy when I see the first snow fall, it is beautiful. Mother Nature really knows what she is doing, the trees looks a winter wonder land and so does everything else. I love your style you are very talented. I enjoy reading and seeing now you decorate. Happy New Year to you and your family.

  21. Yvonne…love the word classic over traditional.. It sounds intriguing…not the same old thing. Of course your home always looks amazing…loving Tanglewood. You have no idea how inspiring you have been in helping me process letting go of our home of 32 years. We are preparing for a change over the next year or two with a possible relocation depending on where my sons end up teaching. Wherever God leads us I know I can make it another hone filled with memories. Great ideas for a new year. Thank you as always for the work you put in to your blog.

    1. Hi June, how exciting! I have loved downsizing for so many reasons!!!!

  22. Debbie Thicksten says:

    Where did you purchase the inexpensive pillows? Thank you

    1. Try HomeGoods for inexpensive pillows. Lots have down inserts! A big score!