If you’ve been following our Modern Traditional series this month, by this point, you’re likely itching for some accessories to round out the look. So far, we’ve taken a deep dive with our intro article to discuss the style hallmarks of the look (you’ll definitely want to read through that post if this is your first ride aboard the Modern Traditional train) as well as furniture and lighting. And today, we’re wrapping up the aesthetic with accessories. While the look is pretty simple (i.e. very little styling), there are a few pieces that seem to come up again and again in our research for rooms in this style. (Side note: The more we dig in and look for examples of spaces that fall under our Modern Traditional umbrella, the more and more we’re SO feeling this. Honestly, it probably has something to do with constantly leaning into color, textiles, patterns, and while that’s still kind of our bread and butter here at EHD, the restful pictures we’re collecting COULD TURN US…just maybe.)
The key to nailing the styling of Modern Traditional without it going hoarder grandma is to be SUPER subtle. This is not a style where more is merrier. Less actually is more…but don’t worry, that doesn’t translate to sparse or cold. ModTrad (by now, we’re familiar enough to shorthand the name, don’t you think?) is understated and subdued but inviting and comfortable. So what does that look like exactly, when we’re talking decor? A few examples: A vintage wood foyer table with a white bowl atop…a couple antiqued candlesticks on a shelf or dining table…one or two distressed ladders leaning just so in a hallway/bathroom/basically anywhere. Oh, and peg rails…ALL THE PEG RAILS. Taking a look at the photos we’ve presented thus far, you may have noticed that no Modern Traditional home is complete without a peg rail and a handful of utilitarian wooden brooms hanging from it (honestly, what’s with all the brooms? Peg rails are traditionally married to Shaker design principles, which leads us to question…why exactly did Shakers need so many brooms?).
Below, we break down five ModTrad essential trimmings, including art, vessels, ladders/peg rails, rustic storage and candlesticks.
Art: Oil Portraits & Still Life
Hold up…this deVOL kitchen is SO GOOD, right? While it has a tiny bit too much going on in it to be classified as truly Modern Traditional, there’s a lesson to be learned here in terms of art. You’ll want to look out for old-school oil portraits, still life of fruit or landscapes. These should look like you scored them at an estate sale or you raided your great aunt’s garage last Christmas (with her permission, of course).
Pieces can go unframed (if they are a canvas), though a simple wood frame, or even a brass frame if it’s not too ornate (like #8 and #13), is really lovely as well.
The colors of Modern Traditional-appropriate art are typically dark and moody. This lends a time-worn quality to your walls. You really only need one or two pieces max – too many more, and you veer eclectic and collected. That is not the look you’re going for here. We even really like this super casual oil-painting-on-the-ground thing happening in this room. When in doubt styling a vignette or room in the Modern Traditional look – use a single vintage/antique wood chair and an oil portrait. Boom, you’re done.
Take a look at some of our favorite art picks for this style below:
1. Fruit Sketch 1 | 2. French Antique Bearded Man Portrait | 3. Ranunculus Bouquet Still Life | 4. Primitive Portrait Painting | 5. Bath Wall Art | 6. Mousetrap | 7. Honeycrisp | 8. Danish Still Life Kitchen Scene | 9. Sienna Barn | 10. Still Life Oil Painting on Canvas | 11. Pomegranate and Squash | 12. French Antique Woman Portrait | 13. Valley Mist 1 | 14. Stacia Chamberlain Original Still Life | 15. Quiet Night
Candlesticks & Tapers
It’s totally acceptable – and encouraged – to stay traditional here. Antiqued brass or silver candlesticks, glass hurricane lamps…if it could have been used by fancy early settlers, or like…Samuel Adams (the Founding Father, not the beer, obviously), that’s just the ticket. There is, however, another option, which is the wood turned candlestick like #1, #9 or #17. Paired with blue tapers, it’s a really cool, fresh look. To make these stand out on your wood farmhouse table, add a table runner to visually separate the two.
Antiqued brass is a great finish for Modern Traditional candlesticks, as we previously mentioned. Pair them with neutral-colored taper candles (we have a few picks in our roundup below…we’re particularly feeling those gray ones at #13).
A few style steps above the candlestick is the candelabra. These can go ornate real fast, so be sure if you pick up a candelabra or two for your Modern Traditional that they aren’t too flashy. No dangling crystals or too much scrollwork, please. You can even go quite modern with something streamlined and matte black and brass, as long as your furnishings and lighting speak to that humble, handmade vibe that’s crucial to this look.
Below, we share 21 great options:
1. Georgian Wood Candlestick | 2. Black 4-pack Tapered Candles | 3. Zinc Adjustable Taper Candle Holder | 4. Booker Candlesticks Set | 5. Ceramic Pantry Candleholder | 6. Tapered Navy Candles (Set of 8) | 7. Merlot Beeswax Candles | 8. Brecklyn Candle Holder | 9. Turned Wood Taper Candle Holder | 10. Modern Black Candlesticks | 11. Candelabra Centerpiece | 12. White Taper Candles (Set of 2) | 13. Gray Unscented Taper Candle (Set of 2) | 14. Vintage French Brass Candlesticks (Set of 2) | 15. Tall Metal Candlestick | 16. Tapered Bayberry Candles (Set of 8) | 17. Natural Wood Pillar Candleholder | 18. Hurricane Lamp | 19. Tall Black Metal Fabius Pillar Candleholder | 20. Blue Taper Candles (Set of 2) | 21. Brass Candlestick
Wall Storage: Peg Rails & Ladders
WE SEE YOU, BROOMS. You have to admit, though, strung from a peg rail like in these images above, we get the fixation. While it’s definitely more of a “hip” aesthetic that just looks really nice in pristine styled photographs, traditionally, Shaker peg rails were placed at about shoulder level on a room’s wall, providing a landing place to hang chairs, baskets, aprons, cleaning tools…anything to keep floors tidy. Quick history lesson: Shakers were a religious sect founded in the 18th century known for their penchant for simplicity, cleanliness and function over form. They were all about efficiency and perfection (in fact, they strove for it because they believed creating a perfect world would usher in God’s return).
Today – and particularly in the last few years – Shaker staples like the peg rail are super trendy, and it’s pretty clear why…they are both simply beautiful and really utilitarian, especially in small homes where floor space is at a premium. Hoist your furniture, house tools and storage items up on the wall, and all of a sudden, you feel like you have more room.
Below are some options; some have a little more visual wear (#11) while others are clean and crisp (#4, #14):
1. 76″ Decorative Wood Ladder | 2. Protected Teak Shaker Pegs (Large) | 3. Solid Walnut Ladder | 4. Futagami Brass Bar & S Hooks | 5. Bloak Ladder | 6. Simple Iron Hook Rack | 7. Metal Display Ladder | 8. B & W Peg Rail | 9. Lucy Leaning Ladder | 10. Birch Rack | 11. Reclaimed Barn Wood Ladder | 12. 32″ Iron Wall Bar & S Hooks | 13. Wooden Display Ladder | 14. Maple Shaker Peg Rack | 15. 80″ Solid American Maple Ladder
Vessels: Vases, Bowls & Pitchers
When it comes to styling surfaces, it’s all about vessels: a combination of bowls, vases, jugs and pitchers made of wood, terracotta, porcelain, ceramic, earthenware, recycled or vintage glass…anything warm and textural and not too perfect. Avoid anything with too much color – a dark blue rim, for instance, is totally okay, but, like everything else in the Modern Traditional sphere, the key is subtly.
A crackled white ceramic or glass pitcher (something with imperfections like #5 is ideal) used as a vase is such a lovely, casual touch to a room. As one of the guiding principles of the Modern Traditional style is function and purpose, this double-duty move is an ideal addition to your home.
We particularly love wood or terracotta bowls in the kitchen (or on bookshelves and side tables). You can lean into either the modern OR the traditional side here. For instance, #6 is rather modern looking but mixed into a kitchen with some character, it still totally works. You could, of course, go the route of something more distressed like #16 or #24…because vintage is NEVER the wrong answer.
1. Portland Serve Bowl | 2. Frances Palmer Diego Urn | 3. Vintage French Wide Bottomed Jug | 4. Tube Vase | 5. Clear Pitcher | 6. Holland Wood Bowl | 7. Green Stoneware Pitcher | 8. Lotus Stoneware Basin | 9. Glass Belly Vase | 10. Large Porcelain Pitcher | 11. Clear Glass Bud Vases Set Of 3 | 12. Yellowware Pitcher | 13. Stoneware Water Bottle | 14. Ceramic Bud Vase | 15. Cambria Oval Serve Bowl | 16. Peterman Ebonized Bowl | 17. Trophy Vase Set | 18. Banded Ceramic Vase | 19. Still Life Pitcher | 20. Wilder Serving Bowl | 21. Cream Stoneware Pitcher | 22. Napoli Serve Bowl | 23. Classic White Pitcher | 24. Antique French Large Mixing Bowl
Storage: Baskets & Crates
We can’t say enough how the accessories and decor of the Modern Traditional look are usually multi-purpose. Not just good-looking, but also functional, so baskets and crates are a key element to the aesthetic. Something tall works great for storage in a bathroom (bonus points if you pair it with a peg rail) or next to a sofa or bed.
Shorter, squat market baskets (like #7) with handles lend a sweet, homey vibe to a space. Stash them in your kitchen to store produce or even random odds and ends you don’t necessarily want on display, or around your house on stools, under tables…you really can’t go wrong.
1. Belgian Wicker Wine Basket Crate | 2. Waldorf Basket Set of 3 | 3. Rustic Decorative Storage Basket | 4. Eucalyptus Large Storage Box | 5. Wood Handled Storage Basket | 6. Wicker Large Round Basket | 7. Market Basket | 8. Old Farm Egg Carrier | 9. Wood Storage Bin | 10. Distressed Wood Nesting Boxes | 11. Chelsea Large Basket | 12. Square Wire Baskets (Set of 2) | 13. Square Bamboo Storage Basket | 14. Antique Primitive Wooden Box | 15. Aubrey Oversized Basket | 16. Daytrip Lidded Basket | 17. Round Wire Basket | 18. Rustic Wood Crate
For the full Modern Traditional style check out: An Intro to the Modern Traditional Style, How to Bring Modern Traditional Style Home: Furniture, & How to Bring Modern Traditional Style Home: Lighting.
SO, now that we’ve wrapped another style, we’ll be sure to keep our eyes peeled for new looks worth talking about, but we welcome any suggestions. What’s got you excited right now in the design world? Chime in below and dish on anything that makes your heart pitter-patter.
I love this style. I was trying to better pinpoint what this style is for me..the thought came to me as I was scanning these well curated images that it’s vibe is like still life art. Each item in the room is so impactful, you can FEEL it. Great job once again.
So well said! I agree and am obsessed with this style. Remodelista features it often, and I can’t get enough. Glad to see it here. Hoping to see a little of this style creep into Portland or mountain houses.
My sister once told me “Everything you buy looks old”. So I guess this is my jam. And yes, there are quite a few peg rails in my life.
I was wondering where the textiles recommendations were (do we get to have pillows on the sofa??) but quickly realized from a quick scroll that the answer is short – quiet tones, homespun fabrics, little pattern, the end! KISS basically.
I’ve enjoyed this series, scoured the inspo pics, and while I do find myself injecting just a little more color into my home, the underlying style is very similar to this. In every post I was saying… yes I already have those things. Today it was my wooden barleytwist candlesticks, simple hand thrown jugs and bowls, Shaker pegs. My art could use some help since what I used to have up just doesn’t feel right nowadays and the walls are mostly bare (which is fitting for my quiet simple vibe….) but now I know what to look for!
I love this style and one of the elements that kept coming up is the plaster wall treatment. I’d love a tutorial on how to do that!
great design, Thanks for sharing
This look feels more country/farmhouse than modern IMO. It can be very impressive in the right setting, unfortunately, it’s not for me. I’ve loved some of the other design series, but this is my least favorite. Looking forward to the next!
I agree that “modern” feels like the wrong word to describe this style. But then again it can be difficult to pinpoint the right phrase to describe a style. I think though I might describe this as “Updated Shaker”.
We like Updated Shaker, but still are stuck on the “Modern Monastery” name suggested a few posts back.
Ha! It’s actually quite a lot like the quarters of Offred in “The Handmaid’s Tale”!
I’d go with Neo Shaker rather than Modern Traditional. But potato/potato, it’s still charming. Just a little spare for my tastes. I like stuff too much to pare down to this level. Which is why there are many ways to decorate our houses.
Not my bag either, but fun to look at. This does feel Colonial/Primitive to me rather than Modern Traditional, but I guess I don’t have a clear read on what Modern Traditional actually means.
These accessories just make me feel like I’d be a better person having them in my home. I can just imagine myself, magically becoming this super organic healthy person obv walking about barefoot with some linen apron sweeping the floors with the worlds most impractical but beautiful straw broom. Who needs a robot vacuum? (People with straw brooms probably 😛 whatever I love the fantasy)
YES! If only buying an impractical/beautiful broom and a few crates can turn you into the best version of yourself, right?
I’d love to see modern interpretations of Southwestern or Asian styles. Another fun thing would be modern masculine (what’s today’s bachelor pad). I’d also like to see a feature on sustainability.
I agree! A feature on sustainability would be awesome.
Part of my rugged, sensible New England aesthetic totally loves and resonates with this look, while another part of me feels like I’ve wandered into a house tour at Plimoth Plantation, and expect to see someone in a bonnet or buckled shoes around the corner. I really like the calming simplicity of it — I came out a “zen” in your book quiz — but just perplexed how you’d fit your phone chargers or flat screens into this kind of a house. Much less children — leaning paintings on the floor, all I could think about were your toddlers and how those paintings would fare leaned up against a wall in the hall.
Flatscreen shown above in one of the candlestick photos! I particularly noticed it because yes, we haven’t seen much of the modern living accoutrements in this series. It’s just a black rectangle on the wall… very simple and plain (natch). The exposed cord thing seems fitting with this style so I don’t really see an issue with chargers and technology etc- fits right in with the modern lighting IMO and most of our gadgets are clean lined and simple these days.
Is this not called Shaker style? If not, why? Just curious as it looks like that, or Modern Farm. Thanks clarification
Hi! Well, it’s absolutely a fine line, but Modern Traditional is a bit more updated than traditional Shaker style. Some of the silhouettes and finishes can be more modern (it’s a balance). We talked more about it in the intro post (https://bit.ly/2KuZyGD) as well as the lighting post (https://bit.ly/2rMHpLQ). Modern Farmhouse, however, is a heavier look, and usually more “planned”. ModTrad comes together over time. Let us know if you have more questions! Xx
I am not feeling this look at all. There is a fine line here between stylish and just plain dirty. A lot of these rooms would need a good cleaning (Case in point, the bathroom in photo #2) before I could relax and feel serene in them. A lot of the finishes would be really hard to keep clean as well. Practical me votes a resounding no. The kitchen in the very first photo is absolutely lovely though. What style is it classified as?
The bathroom in #2 is a no-no. I second that.
But I would like to say that this team does so much research to back up their content. That is simply mindblowing.
Just FYI…Shaker peg rails were also for storing chairs when they weren’t being used.
Yes, exactly! The intention was to keep the floor clear of clutter (a practice we def think we should tap more into it…especially if you live in a teeny little space).
I have enjoyed this series, although it’s not quite my thing. However, I have renamed it Modern Handmaid because it reminds me so much of the interiors in A Handmaid’s Tale! I can totally see a Martha making soup in those kitchens!
What about rugs? There are only a couple I can see in these pictures and those are pretty plain. I could see this style working in my house but wood floors are cold in Nebraska in the winter!
This is, honestly, close enough to my style that I’m now semi-convinced that someone is spying on the inside of my house… apparently I’ve got a cohesive decorating style and didn’t know it?
So, rugs I use: sisal or jute in summer (or bare wood floors, which is less great aesthetically but with kids and dogs and muddy outdoors sometimes it’s the only option that makes sense, maintenance-wise), and thicker wool rugs in winter, usually in really traditional patterns (the one I have in my living room is this one, which is cheap as hell and also holding up nicely to multiple kids: https://www.wayfair.ca/rugs/pdp/astoria-grand-anora-kerman-wool-red-area-rug-argd3163.html) The rest of my indoors is all dark hardwoods/low barrister bookcases as side tables/full wall of dark bookshelves, filled with books/dark piano/white linen/lots of plants, for reference. It always strikes me as vaguely Colonial style, with a more modern (and hopefully less directly oppressive…) twist.
I loved this series so much! I think I may have found my and my homes’ style! Finally!!! We own a 1920’ bungalow in Nairobi. Built to be Karen Blixen’s manager’s home. Those who watched Meryl Streep in Out of Africa will know what I am talking about. This house screams modern traditional! Exposed beams, hardwood floors, wonky walls, the lot! Cannot wait to make it a more obvious style throughout the house. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!
Oh perhaps a little on soft furnishing?! Textiles & rugs? Although I think it’s kinda obvious. Linens, washed cottons, worn velvet, sisal or jute, vintage rugs??
Just writing to say thank you for consistently putting out detailed, thoughtful, and stylish content. Sometimes I read comments on this blog that for some reason, don’t recognize how hard your team is working to give us so much to read every day. So thanks. And keep up the good work!
P.s. Although I’ve seen it many times, that green kitchen is other-worldly. DeVol really knows how to design a kitchen. (Swoon.)
Thank you thank you for this lovely comment, and glad to see the effort is noticed. And YES deVOL is just so swoon-y.
I’ve been obsessing over this style for a year or two now, and recently incorporated it into our kitchen renovation. Love the clean lines and focus on minimal amounts of unique, quality items. Bought some hand forged wrought iron candlestick holders today that I’m gaga for. If you’re ever in Kentucky, you should visit Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill. It’s an entire village of this design and is incredibly beautiful.
i love this look and will use these ideas when hunting for vintage pieces to use in this style. I have your tips on finding good vintage pieces, but I still have a question: how to set a budget? I want to buy a home within a year. I know roughly how much I can afford, but how do I figure out how much to set aside for furnishings and decor if I plan to pick up vintage pieces (I have a plan, so they should all fit together) over the year?
Are all comments moderated? Just wondering why my request for budgeting guidelines for vintage (which this style lends itself to) isn’t showing up.
We’re seeing it, so fear not!
Oh, hi, it’s like you visited my house.
I have a weakness for gloomy oil portraits and dark still lifes, collect brass candlesticks and pottery in shades of blue (the local potters are amazing, yay living in rural areas), and sort my house out via storage baskets (best toy storage ever).
… Apparently I’ve got a cohesive style and never realized it?
I would love to see a non cheesy new england coastal. Everytime i describe my style as beachy I end up with gifts of fish dishes and ships in a bottle.
This look says to me: “I bought an old house and there were so many things wrong with it that I can no longer afford furniture or any creature comforts.” And, wow, a $228 basket that looks like….a rectangular basket? The people trying to sell this style will never be able to afford it; all their money went to upgrading the electrical and plumbing. (I speak from experience: )
You asked why the Shakers had so many brooms. Just thought I’d chime in: the Shakers did not marry; all men lived together in a house and all women lived together in another house. It was more like dorm-style living. So, if someone’s duty was to sweep the house, there’d probably be 5-6 people all simultaneously sweeping in different parts of a very large house, thus the need for multiple brooms. Another fun fact: when it came to brooms, one size did not fit all for the Shakers. There were different kinds of brooms, each designed for a particular task.
it Looks Good.. thanks For Sharing