What Makes an Interior Look Classic?

By AALofts Design

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By AALofts Design

When redesigning a space you already live in or designing a new space, you might want to go for the classic look. The classic or timeless look can be a real eye-catcher, almost like a canvas on which you can put colourful features that really pop. But you may be wondering, what exactly makes for a classic look?

Designing an interior to look classic means arranging the basic elements of the room to display:

  • Clean lines
  • Symmetry
  • Neutral colours
  • Colourful accessories

Classic interiors look simple, uncluttered, & stylish & have small elements from different styles to make a room look like no style at all.

The good news is that you can design an interior to look classic in any home & on most budgets. You just need to follow some basic principles. Once you have that down, you can let your imagination work within the boundaries to create the classic look that best suits you. Read on to learn what design elements make an interior space look classic?

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Luxurious Neutral Tone Living Room Interior Design

Making an Interior Look Classic.

The elements of a classic interior are pretty straightforward & easy to manage. When I think of designing a room for this look I keep three basic rules in mind:

  • Make it clean
  • Make it simple
  • Make it symmetrical

As you read through the basic rules of the classic look, keep the above three things in mind & apply them to everything. More than anything else, the classic look exemplifies calm & accessibility. The look can seem austere but not unapproachable. It is an elegant look but also highly functional.

Make it Clean

A classic design is an uncluttered one. Of course, when spaces get lived in, they can get messy as the junk piles up (that’s what cleaning on Saturday morning is for). So uncluttered does not mean unlived in.

It simply means that the essential structure of the design is one that works with only a few key elements & not much more than that. Once you get those elements to where you have the balance of form & function, leave it alone. Keep it clean.

As was already hinted at above, making it clean necessarily implies making it simple. This involves a lot of aspects of the design but it tends to show itself mainly in colour & accessories.

If you want to splash this year’s new brightest colour onto your walls, the classic look is not for you. If you want to use the mantle place as a display for all the keepsakes from your latest trip to Las Vega, the classic look is not for you. This look is for neutral colours & intentionally used accessories.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with displaying the things you want to display, but one of the things I have observed about the timeless look is that it gives you room enough to live in it. It doesn’t crowd you out.

Make it Symmetrical

This has mostly to do with structure again, but it can also involve the placement of accessories & even the use of colour. The basic purpose of symmetry is to create balance.

This goes back to the calming element of the style. When things are symmetrical & balanced, they make sense, they feel safe.

I have more to say about these elements but all that will come about as I move on to some rules to follow when learning what makes an interior look classic.

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Furniture with Clean Lines.

Furniture is the most prominent thing in any room. When you say it, it sounds obvious, but furniture is so ubiquitous & necessary that it is easy to overlook. So bend your mind to furniture for a moment while I give you some things to look for.

Furniture with clean lines means:

  • Couches are not super poofy
  • Coffee tables & end tables are not super ornate
  • Chairs are not highly stylized with an elaborate carving on the handles

In other words, when you are using or buying pieces of furniture you want to find pieces that are somewhere in the middle between utilitarian & ornate. Your furniture should not look like back-killing blocks, but neither should it look like something that belongs in a palace. Your furniture should be comfortable & simple.

Simplicity here means that you want the furniture to function in a room, but not be the focal point or a distraction from the focal point. So your giant couch with four recliners is not going to work with the classic look. But your couch that is simply nice & comfortable is perfect.

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Symmetry Balances the Room.

There are a few ways to create symmetry in your room. Some of them involve furniture, but others do not. It is worth emphasizing that the point of symmetry is to create balance in the room. When you have an interior with symmetrical lines, it is another way of saying you have a space that makes sense.

One of the ways to create symmetry is to place your furniture evenly around a focal point. Pretend the focal point in your room is a fireplace. In this case, you could:

  • Place a couch on the opposite wall directly across from the fireplace, creating balance
  • Place two chairs or two love seats on either end of the couch but perpendicular to it
  • Centre a coffee table in the middle of this arrangement

What you have done is arrange elements in a room so that when compared with one another they make sense.

But you do not have to have a focal point in order to create symmetry. You can use furniture to create a mirror-like effect. Here is how it works:

  • Place two couches opposite each other in the centre of a room & add a coffee table between them
  • You can leave them as they are or you can add two love seats or chairs on the open sides to create another mirror effect

The basic idea with this is that you use the furniture to create its own sense of symmetry.
But you do not have to rely solely on furniture for symmetry. You can add non-structural elements to your walls that can work with your furniture arrangement. For example, the classic look often thrives on crown moulding to emphasize the symmetry of the room. Or you can build a bookshelf into the wall with moulding around it.

Luxury All White Minimal Bathroom

Neutral Colours.

When talking about furniture & walls the next thing you need to know about is colour. Classic designs use neutral colours (as well as traditional patterns). This includes:

  • White
  • Cream
  • Beige
  • Black
  • Navy

Stick with the classics. Resist the urge to drop a bright yellow chair into the room. You will definitely be off-mission with that.

On the other hand, do not worry about making your room too boring. The point of using neutral colours for the big things is so they can become a canvass for the small things.

Creativity with Colorful Accessories.

Accessories are where you can throw colour into the room through funky or even trendy patterns or different styles of art.

Just keep the hand of restraint in how much you accessorize the room. For example, can you have a work of abstract art with wild colours in a classic room? Yes. Just do not hang five or six. Putting one above the fireplace is perfect.

Can you have throw pillows with trendy patterns? Yes, just do not throw them on every conceivable sitting surface.

This is also the part of the design where you can incorporate things from different styles & time periods. Having small doses of many things makes the room feel more timeless because it does not belong to any certain period.


Designing an interior to have a classic look can be a lot of fun because the more you exercise restraint the more you see the room look classic & timeless.

Less is more is an often-used description. With the classic interior look, you get to see that idea in action.


If you’re interested in further reading, please see the links to my trusted resources page & related articles below. To find out more about AALofts Design, please click here. If you found this content helpful, want to collaborate on a project, or would like to request an article topic, please click here to get in touch via the contact form. Feel free to share & connect on social media, if you found this content helpful.

Article by Amy Lofts.

Article by Amy Lofts.

Owner of AALofts Design

Welcome! I am a graphic designer & digital marketer with over ten years of experience within a range of industries including; e-commerce, architecture, cruise liners, textiles & interior design. Having grown with exposure to various disciplines of art & design, my brand reflects my love of elegance, beauty & exploration. Get in touch or learn more.

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