How to make a room with wood furniture look modern

Written by dr. eugenia orr
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No need to get rid of perfectly good furniture for more modern pieces. You can add modern touches to wood furniture to create an inviting, eclectic style. By mixing the best of traditional and contemporary designs, you'll keep the classic lines of the old and add the pop and simplicity of the new. The key to eclectic design is to not go to extremes. In rooms with wood furniture, don't add in metal furniture---the contrast is too great and the furniture will appear out of place. The key to modernisation is to add it in small touches.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Use modern fabrics and bedding styles to update bedrooms. Large floral patterns are more traditional so stay away from those. Use a two-color, block-style comforter to bring the contemporary in. Keep window treatments simple by installing blinds, woven shades, or simple sheers. Incorporate stainless steel into the room with stainless mirrors or picture frames. To update the look of wood bedroom furniture inexpensively, replace the wood hardware with stainless steel pieces.

  2. 2

    Change the fabric on upholstered furniture in the living room. Choose a simple pattern or select a textured single colour fabric, such as ultra suede, silk shantung, or tone-on-tone stripes. These updated, modern fabrics will soften the lines on the wood furniture and make the room eclectic in design. Use a sisal or jute rug to bring in more texture and anchor the seating arrangement. Use lightweight fabrics for drapery and don't forget decorative pillows to add accent colours.

  3. 3

    Break up the wood look in a dining room with a table cloth or slip covers for the chairs. There are no rules on chairs in the dining room so try breaking up the set. Change out two or four chairs with more modern wood ones, like those with straighter legs.

  4. 4

    Add modern accessories to entry tables in the foyer. Add silver or glass bowls with a simple designs. Don't use dollies or other old-fashioned table protectors. Stick felt pads on the undersides of the bowls to protect the wood. Hang a contemporary art piece in a silver frame.

Tips and warnings

  • When choosing furniture, remember that more modern styles typically have straight legs. The more ornate the base, the more traditional the design. Also, wood can seem heavier in darker shades. You can update the furniture by lightening the finish.

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