6 tips for furnishing traditional apartment blocks with contemporary design

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6 tips for furnishing traditional apartment blocks with contemporary design

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This is a tricky endeavour, wouldn't you agree? You want to move into a traditional and history-riddled apartment block, but at the same time, you like the idea of more contemporary decor, so what can you do to pull these two elements together? Well, phenomenally talented interior designers have been injecting modern finishes into heritage buildings for years and we've spotted a few key techniques that we are going to share with you today. Are you ready to find out how you can get the best of every world when you begin to furnish an old building? Let's get to it!

1. Remember that tradition and modernity can be harmonious.

Blossoming tree near an old apartment building, Manhattan, New York City by homify

Blossoming tree near an old apartment building, Manhattan, New York City


So many people think that heritage and contemporary elements have to be polar opposites, but we know that actually, they can be the best of friends. In their own rights, each facet of design will stand out, but when brought together, traditional and modern motifs contrast and complement each other wonderfully! This is why you might find older apartment blocks painted in vivid, modern colors, as you can see here!

2. Pay homage with striking motifs.

You want to furnish old buildings classily, to respect the heritage that they enjoy, but that doesn't mean that you have to be understated and boring! Here, we see a beautiful apartment, complete with a vibrant checked kitchen floor, which pays homage to the traditional kitchen floor coverings of the past. Yes, the materials used here are probably more durable, but they still hark back to the original aesthetic!

3. Don't fight the proportions.

While some people will always want to tear out walls and increase the proportions of certain spaces in old apartments, you might be just as well to work with what you have! We love this bedroom, which is small, but looks incredibly modern and fresh, thanks to a touch of contemporary minimalism. Had the room been opened up, there may have been a temptation to choose a darker or more oppressive color scheme, but working with the scale and choosing modern decor has created a wonderful harmony!

4. Try installing sliding doors.

It might sound strange, but sometimes, in a bid to furnish old buildings more modernly, you might actually need to look to the past! In terms of interior doors, we encourage you to look back a little further than you might naturally, as there was a time when sliding doors were all the rage, before being replaced with hung and hinged varieties. We officially want to champion space-saving and traditional sliding doors for older apartments, as they somehow look not only rigt at home, but also fabulously contemporary!

5. Unearth traditional features.

As years go by, owners of heritage apartments will follow trends and rip out period features as they see fit, but we all know that fashions are cyclical and now, there is a lot to be said for older apartments that have traditional features still in place! To that end, you might like to hunt out any blocked up fireplaces or start visiting salvage yards, to reinstate pretty decorative features that would have been installed at the time of construction. By all means, contrast these antique features with modern flooring and furniture, for a healthy hybrid!

6. Be sensitive about storage.

Finally, we all know that storage is of the utmost importance in modern apartments, but if you are living in a traditional one, you might like to take a more delicate and integrated approach, so as to not usurp the heritage of your home. We suggest that you look into hidden storage options, such as discreet wall cavity designs, shown here, as they will help you to maintain a modern and unfussy aesthetic, without having to discard all of your belongings and the storage itself won't be a stand-out feature. Perfect!

For more apartment ideas, take a look at this article: An apartment that is a Nordic extravaganza!

Modern houses by Casas inHAUS Modern

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