Simply Classic: What is it?
Simply Classic, simply put, is a traditional design style with an updated feel. In this style you will find a mix of old and new, but the shapes and lines tend to be more in line with traditional design styles.
Some of my favorite designers who have a lot of Simply Classic projects in their portfolio are design legends Bunny Williams and Billy Baldwin. You can also see this Simply Classic look in the work of Gretchen Black and Dina Holland.
Typically, in Simply Classic design there are a lot of curvilinear lines and soft feminine shapes. There will always be custom window treatments, wall coverings, pillows, and other custom design elements. Simply Classic has a timeless feel because there isn’t a lot of high fashion in the design.
The design foundations for Simply Classic are neo-classical, Baroque, Rococo, American Colonial, Gustavian, Victorian, and Edwardian.
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As with all of the classic styles, the wall color tends to be light and neutral and serve as a blank canvas for the space. The exception tends to be in spaces that use wallpaper. Otherwise, the color palette for furniture and textiles can be all over the map. You may find Simply Classic spaces that stick to a neutral palette, earthy palettes, and even bold bright palettes. Usually, you will connect the palette with some inspiration object, such as art, textiles, or rugs.
Much of the furniture in Simply Classic will be traditional. Sofas and upholstered chairs will usually have curvy rolled arms or English saddle style arms. You will usually find turned legs or cabriole style legs on tables and dining chairs. Case goods, such as dressers, console tables, and armoires will have some detail or carving in the woodwork.
You may find wood tones that are bleached or white washed, medium walnut, oak, and cherry woods are very common, as well as deep mahogany. Although, you may find pieces that have natural or applied patina, you will want to avoid anything that is too stylized or trendy. The goal with Simply Classic is to create a look that is timeless.
Accessories and art will also be traditional. You may see modern art and abstract art, but typically it will be framed with a traditional gold or silver leaf frame, as opposed to a gallery wrap or floating frame canvas.
When I style a simply classic space I like to use lamps in metals or ceramics in traditional gourd shapes. I also like to bring in some neo-classical elements, such as busts and acanthus shapes. I also like to add chinoiserie elements like ginger jars and gold bamboo mirrors.
For rugs, there are two styles that tend to work best in the Simply Classic style – Oriental and natural fiber. Traditional Oriental rugs with rich jewel tones or muted earth tones are better than the contemporary distressed styles. Natural fiber rugs, such as sisal and jute, will always pull a room together if nothing else seems to work!
If you aren’t sure which style is your classic style, grab a copy of Sophisticated Living Guide to Cohesive Style and take the quiz to find out! You can also read about the other styles – Classic Coastal, Classic Transitional, and Classic Eclectic on this blog!