Six Ways To Elevate Traditional Homes

Traditional style doesn't have to feel stuffy- incorporating these modern elements can breathe some fresh air into classic designs. (Hilton & Hyland)

Despite the popularity of modern design, there are still many people building, buying and living in traditional-style homes. Traditional homes tend to have a warm, charming and often homey feel. But traditional homes can also feel boring, tired and dated. Fortunately, there are many ways to enhance this aesthetic. Here are six ways you can elevate any traditional home easily as seen in luxury homes that were on the market in 2022. 

Statement Staircases

A statement staircase is a power move in terms of traditional design. It can be a major focal point in the room and is an architectural feature that can help the homes sell and maintain value. There is a showstopping statement staircase in this stately manor home with an endless heated pool in Keswick, Virginia. The grand staircase floats and features a beautiful black iron railing that just pops. When it comes to statement staircases, more is more. Best of all, this design not only compliments the rest of the room but also creates the perfect area for the piano underneath. 

interior view of a staircase

This towering staircase makes for dramatic entrances and exits, with the perfect space for a grand piano underneath. (Long & Foster Real Estate)

Casement Windows

Casement windows are a great way to create a more traditional ambiance in any home. We see this in most of the rooms at 4541 Berrendo in Sacramento, California. This exquisite home is loaded with windows and French doors. It gets an incredible amount of light, making this fabulous architectural feature add a great deal of character to the home. The white paint makes every room feel a bit more open and spacious. 

interior view of a home with plenty of natural light

Light pours in through a variety of window types, from small views to large bay windows. (GUIDE Real Estate)

We also see casement windows in a home in an entirely different region—Austin, Texas at 3100 Crowheart. While this is also a traditional home, its overall style is quite different than the property in California. Still, the casement windows have a similar effect of opening up and enhancing the space.

Interior view of a living room with plenty of windows.

Casement windows allow in plenty of natural light, particularly through the use of double height window design. (Moreland Properties)

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A well-designed built-in isn’t just timeless, it’s also very much a smart use of space. Whether you need to store books or display knickknacks, a quality built-in—whether in a living room, bedroom or home office—makes everything you’re displaying look better. Another advantage of built-ins is that you can add a cabinet door to store anything you want out of view, such as papers, boxes of old photos or extra linens. 

The built-ins are absolutely beautiful at this sophisticated South York Mills residence in Toronto. The wood shelves give the home office added character. The open shelves display a variety of things from decorative objects to vases, books and art. 

interior view of a home office with dark built in shelving

Built in shelving and additional moulding on the walls creates a sophisticated feel to this home office. (Barry Cohen Homes)

But built-ins can also be smaller and less of a focal point as seen in the living room of this home in Chevy Chase, Maryland. The mixture of open shelves and cabinetry has a simple, minimalist look. The gold hardware is a lovely decorative touch. 

interior view of a living room with built in shelving to the right.

Though not the focal point of this living room, the built in shelving here is functional and stylized. (Long & Foster Real Estate)

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A great way to enhance the charm of a traditional room is with millwork on the walls. While there are seemingly endless ways to design millwork, the millwork at this spacious light-filled condo in Chevy Chase, Maryland is just beautiful. The minimalist design, which is painted the same color as the walls, makes this dining room look effortlessly sophisticated. However, a more intricate design would have also worked just as well. 

interior view of a dining room with minimalist millwork.

Minimalist millwork in this dining room adds traditional class without skimping on sophistication. (Long & Foster Real Estate)

Herringbone Flooring

While wide-plank flooring has been the predominant style for a while now, there’s nothing quite as sophisticated as herringbone floors. While many people are now having this timeless style of flooring installed throughout the home, we see this in the dining-only room at this gorgeous Park Avenue apartment in New York City. It distinguishes this space from the rest of the apartment, giving it a special look. 

Interior view of a dining room with herringbone flooring

A classic touch, herringbone flooring adds dimension to this dining room. (Sotheby’s)

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Checkerboard Flooring

interior view of an entryway showcasing checkerboard flooring.

The drama of this checkerboard flooring is toned down by classy gray tones. (Hilton & Hyland)

Checkerboard flooring made a major comeback in 2022 in a variety of homes. While incredibly popular in the 1990s, everything old is new again. Checkerboard can be sophisticated and bold. It looks particularly welcoming in the entryway of 419 St Cloud Road in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles. This home was designed in collaboration with Nicole Gordon Studio and interiors by Kathy Hilton (yes, of “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” fame). Exquisitely designed, no expense was spared when designing the jaw-dropping estate. However, checkerboard flooring doesn’t have to cost a fortune and can complement most styles of homes. 



I am a writer, design expert, host of the podcast Bougie Adjacent, and comedic performer. I am absolutely fascinated by all aspects of décor and design. It once took me six months to choose a soap dispenser and I can’t even remember what it looked like. I like bright prints, southern exposure and any location you can call a “village or town.” There are currently over 100 episodes of House Hunters on my DVR.

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