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This elegant room gets a fresh, modern feel with shots of bright blue, crisp white and lime green hues provided by the upholstery, accessories and a distinctive area rug

Traditional decorating takes a millennial twist.

Transitional decorating is thought of in terms of mixing contemporary and traditional furniture, finishes and fabrics to create a classic, yet timeless design.

According to designer Jane Lockhart it can work both ways. You may live in a traditional home with great mouldings and trim and incorporate contemporary furniture. Or, you may live in a modern home and integrate traditional furniture, as well as endless combinations of the two. She suggests that the word "eclectic" doesn't really adhere to a design direction, whereas transitional decorating does have some guidelines.

What's interesting in the case of millennials and baby boomers is that there's not a clash of these two generations, but rather more of a coming together.

"Each generation is influencing the other – and in a good way," says Ms. Lockhart. "The millennials are a hard category to nail down. They're not necessarily homebuyers yet, but they're setting up their own spaces. The baby boomers understand what convention is, but millennials possess a looseness in their approach – and they know what they want and don't want."

There was a time when everything had to match – the furniture, carpet and drapes.

"For those of us who lived through the eighties, just the mention of dusty rose causes us to shudder," says Ms. Lockhart. "But millennials are thinking of it in a different way – perhaps with a touch of grey – and they're wondering why we're not using certain colours."


Millennials don't want their parents' handed-down matching tables, chairs, buffets and upholstered furniture. According to Ms. Lockhart, there's no market for used furniture. So if your kids want to repurpose some pieces with paint and new hardware, let them – then get over it.

"It's more of a craft culture now," she explains. "We did it in the eighties, because of the economy. The millennials have to adapt to smaller spaces and they want a more personal feel."

Transitional decorating doesn't have to be universally appealing and with the spin that millennials are putting on it, baby boomers are thinking that their approach may be a bit too boring.

"The base furniture piece is largely neutral," says Ms. Lockhart. "But other colours are being added to it. I would guess that you're going to see more rich, dark greens, navy, gold and strong patterns on chairs, as well as light-coloured wood floors."


Before you cringe at the thought of pale flooring, we all know that darker floors are harder to maintain and show dust and scratches. With new technologies, finishes don't yellow and engineered textures are hard-wearing.

Today's fabrics are also tough and long-lasting. Nubbly textures that were associated with being scratchy are now softer. Natural fibres, like cotton, were great, but they didn't stand the test of time. Polyesters are stronger, better looking and durable. Textured fabrics incorporate multiple colours, rather than just tone-on-tone.

"When it comes to paint, whites are getting whiter," says Ms. Lockhart. "Where once there was a yellow tint, there's now a hint of blue/grey for crisper, sharper lines."

And wallpaper is making a comeback. There's still resistance to doing a large space, so one's boldness often comes out in a smaller room or with an accent wall.


When it comes to accessories, there's so much to choose from that if you get tired of it, regift it, reuse it in another room or repurpose it. There is a modest sensibility with transitional decorating that blends an understated elegance with warmth. Artwork and photographs don't have to be the same size, have the same frames or be lined up on the wall. "There's a visceral reaction to pictures and found objects that aren't framed," says Ms. Lockhart. "Consider printing some photos that you've taken. Anything goes when it comes to artwork."

Millennials aren't completely disregarding their parents' influences, because they recognize that baby boomers understand the conventions of transitional style. Instead, they're taking these basic principles and putting their own spin on it. It's just as stylish, but always evolving.

The mid-century modern poplar dresser from Shelter Furniture features gold accent at the base of each leg, a design element from the fifties.

Designed by jane Lockhart interior design for the Sobara group, john heineman photography

Traditional chairs, updated with yellow leather and patterned upholstery, and a tufted leather sofa pair with modern elements such as geometric patterned area rug, sleek window coverings and graphic artwork and a contemporary light fixture in this transitional styled room.

This dining table, custom made by Carrocel Interiors, is a superb transitional piece, combining straight lines and sweeping curves to create a comfortable, classic look. It features the use of refectory style leaves, a feature common in antique tables from 17th century France. It's paired with contemporary upholstered chairs. Plush upholstery fabric, high gloss surfaces and metallic details complete the look.

This content was produced by The Globe and Mail's advertising department. The Globe's editorial department was not involved in its creation.

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