Mixing Modern Outdoor Decor With A Traditional Home

Westchester has a rich variety of architectural styles in our housing stock. Many of these homes are older. So, how do you go about mixing your modern sensibilities with a traditional home?

The marriage of traditional and modern is called transitional design. By using muted colors and tactile materials and fabrics, some seemingly dissonant styles work well together. For instance:

  • A colonial home with mid century modern furniture

  • Tudors with a zen-style landscape design (a revival of chinoiserie– the interpretation of all things Asian from the 1860’s to the1920’s)

  • Victorian homes sporting fabrics with bold prints and contemporary art pieces

Think of each design choice as telling a story. That story has a theme. Maybe you’re looking for an updated farmhouse look. You can combine up-cycled materials and reclaimed barn wood with your modern outdoor furniture. Textures are key.

Perhaps you want a more serene, Asian inspired design, but also like the sleek look of modern minimalism. Pops of color and a mix of materials can accent where you want to draw the eye– like a bright red urn at the end of a garden path.

Let’s look at 3 images to see what works (or doesn’t) and why:



The whitewashed brick wall and deck floor contrast with black wood and black rattan chairs. Black and white is a sophisticated palette. The more traditional rattan pattern is reflected in the sleek webbing of the lounges. The trestle table’s natural wood brings the eye to the table, making it the focal point of the deck.

Rather than the table umbrella seen here in the photo, a simple covered pergola cube of black steel would take this dining deck from transitional to transformational.



This rendering of a new, transitionally-styled home is echoed by the clean lines and repeating square shapes of the stone path, the lounge furniture and the fire pit. The small outdoor space has been maximized, while remaining spare and clean.

A long, narrow patio is divided by two different types of stonework Breaking up the space makes the area seem larger. This Scandinavian modernist design works to harmonize both the poolside lounge area and the more traditional, al fresco dining area. The perimeter is landscaped to soften the fence. The hedge and shrubs are as structural as the furniture. The glorious tree provides intimacy and a shade canopy.

By using color, textures and unexpected juxtapositions, your updated ideas will happily coexist with a more traditional home.