Over the past few years, shiplap, barn doors, and whitewash saturated rooms on cable makeover shows as well as houses in our very own zip codes. Much like the hunter greens and oversized couches of the 1990s and the shabby chic craze of the early aughts, the modern farmhouse look took hold of the better half of the past decade.
Well, the times are always changing—and that means interior design trends come and go.
However, the latest look for the new decade isn’t really anything “new” at all. Even though some refer to it as New Traditional, the most recent term is grandmillennial.
Grandmillenials grew up with AOL and early cell phones, and they don’t shy away from modern perks—they just happen to be drooling over the period costumes and gorgeous set design when streaming “The Crown” or “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” This group of millennials adores traditional decor, and they’re updating the classics in a way that’s all their own.
Artistic Classics in Bedford
Reagan Flaherty Sampson lives in a charming country home that she bought and restored two years ago. You might expect to see a farmhouse- or cottage-style at the end of the gravel lane, but once you make your way through the front porch and into the home, you’ll feel like you were transported to a high-end tea room or gallery. “It’s very cozy, but I still have some grand tastes!” she laughs.
Reagan’s mixing of patterns and use of watery hues lends a contemporary effect to an otherwise traditional living space. A wall of gold framed mirrors catches and bounces natural light around the room—a smart design choice that helps balance the visual weight of a wooden armoire.
Reagan purchased many of these at consignment shops over the years, but friends and loved ones also bring them to her when they unearth them during renovation projects or when cleaning out their attics.
The living room is also home to an eye-catching piece of artistic glasswork positioned in the corner. Reagan found the piece at the Bedford Farmer’s Market for $20, but it looks like a million bucks. “It’s actually an old window! I love the way the light passes through it,” she says. She displays the glass on an easel that belonged to her stepfather’s father in the 1940s.
Reagan has a love for older homes—both her current home and previous home are well over 100 years old. “I love bringing things back to their original state while making them functional,” she says.
It’s no surprise that she also has an affinity for furnishings and accessories that come with their own stories. Her favorite piece in this “new” house is a giant armoire in the dining room. “It’s a King Louis XV, and there’s still a sticker on it from when it was shipped over by a boat from Paris!” she explains.
Continuing Traditions in Lynchburg
Another local grandmillennial not only embraces traditional style, but also puts her cherished treasures on full display. Kate Blickenstaff Poats is a local realtor who sets foot in professionally designed interiors daily; however, she chose to style her 1950s ranch home herself. “I like to build my style around things I cherish and things that make me happy,” she explains, such as the framed Gucci scarf hanging on the wall. Kate’s mother owned the scarf and proudly showcased it in Kate’s childhood home. Kate had always admired its beauty and colors.
The scarf is just one symbol of what inspires Kate’s touching sentimentality.
“I want my space to feel warm and inviting, like the way I feel about the home I grew up in,” she explains.
She achieves her design goals in a variety of ways, from shopping local estate sales to surrounding herself with furnishings and accessories that carry special meaning. For example, a framed gold leaf oil painting depicting a Mediterranean afternoon reminds Kate of her time studying abroad in Spain and Italy, and her love for collecting ginger jars led her to buy a set of six paintings of jars by local artist Claudia Stubstad.
A love for traditional style indicates that someone also has an appreciation for the past. “I’m definitely an old soul,” Kate admits.
“I think that’s why I love traditional style—it makes me think of my grandmother and my parents.”
She also prefers rooms that looks collected and curated, so she incorporates heirloom pieces with newer furnishings to create a space with a healthy dose of personality and plenty
of visual interest. A classic Persian rug in the dining room was a local estate sale find.
“I love that it is being passed down from one Lynchburg family to another,” she explains.
Other antique treasures include chairs upholstered with chinoiserie fabric, a collection of blue and white porcelain, floral side chairs—all are at home in Kate’s living space.
Grandmillennial Style for Everybody
If you’re drawn to classic design and furnishings or accessories with history and meaning, then you, too, can develop your own spin on traditional style that looks elegant, refined, and refreshed—even with Grandma’s hutch and china collection on display. Mady Greer of Curtains, Blinds & Bath in Forest works with many younger clients who embrace traditional style.
She believes this style appeals to a new generation because it offers a high-end look and usually incorporates some heirloom pieces.
“Mix in pieces that are timeless,” suggest Greer.
“Use real wooden pieces as opposed to metal furnishings, and start with your living room and
dining room, which tend to have larger, more traditional pieces to begin with.”
It can feel overwhelming to transition out of your current style. Greer recommends sticking to classic shapes for tables, sideboards, and couches—think rolled arms, tufted, or Chesterfield sofas. “All of our customers add their eclectic, niche pieces in their accessories and artwork,” she says.
In a time where the world is moving forward faster than you can download a new app, there’s something inviting and comforting about traditional design, and millennials have caught hold of it and made it their own.