How to Decorate a Historic Home

How to Decorate a Historic Home

  • 06/4/24

Decorating a historic home in Palm Beach presents a unique opportunity to blend timeless elegance with modern comfort. Palm Beach is renowned for its luxurious residences, many of which boast a rich architectural past. Whether you own a Mediterranean Revival, Colonial, or Mid-Century Modern home, respecting the property’s history while infusing your personal style can result in a stunning living space. Here’s how to decorate a historic home in Palm Beach, balancing historical integrity with contemporary flair.

Embrace the Home’s Historical Features

When decorating a historic home, it’s essential to celebrate the architectural elements that make it truly unique. Palm Beach homes often feature distinctive details, such as arched doorways, decorative moldings, original woodwork, and intricate tilework. It’s important to preserve these one-of-a-kind features and incorporate them into your design plan.

For instance, if your home boasts original hardwood floors, consider refinishing them to enhance their natural elegance. Highlight decorative moldings and ceiling medallions with a fresh coat of paint that complements the room’s color scheme. If your home includes traditional Spanish tiles, ensure they are well-maintained and use them as a focal point in your décor scheme.

Choose a Cohesive Color Palette

Selecting the right color palette is crucial in maintaining the historical charm of your Palm Beach home while introducing a contemporary feel. Opt for colors that were popular during the home’s era while adding a modern twist with updated shades and combinations.

For instance, in Mediterranean Revival homes, warm earth tones like terracotta, ochre, and sage green can create a cozy, authentic atmosphere. Colonial homes often look stunning with classic whites, soft grays, and rich blues. If you own a Mid-Century Modern residence, consider a mix of neutral tones with bold accent colors like mustard yellow, teal, or burnt orange.

Blend Antique and Modern Furnishings

One of the keys to decorating a historic home is striking the right balance between old and new. Incorporate antique or vintage furniture pieces that reflect the home’s period, but don’t shy away from adding contemporary items for contrast and functionality. A classic dining table paired with modern chairs can create an eclectic and inviting dining area. In the living room, mix a vintage sofa with contemporary lighting and accessories to achieve a harmonious blend of styles. The juxtaposition of past and future can add depth and interest to your décor, making your Palm Beach home feel both timeless and current.

Focus on Quality

Historic homes in Palm Beach are often characterized by their superior attention to detail. When selecting new furnishings and décor items, prioritize quality to maintain this standard. Invest in well-made furniture that will stand the test of time.

Handcrafted items, such as custom-made cabinetry, artisanal rugs, and bespoke upholstery, can enhance the elegance of your historic property. Look for pieces that showcase intricate details, quality materials, and excellent construction. These elements will complement the existing architectural features and add a layer of luxury to the space.

Incorporate Period-Appropriate Textiles and Patterns

Textiles and patterns play a significant role in defining the character of a room. For a historic home, choose fabrics and patterns consistent with the era in which the house was built, but don’t hesitate to introduce modern interpretations for a fresh look.

In Mediterranean Revival homes, for example, textiles with rich, intricate patterns like damasks, florals, and paisleys can add warmth and depth. Colonial homes might benefit from classic stripes, plaids, and toile fabrics, while Mid-Century Modern homes can shine with geometric patterns and bold, abstract prints.

Use Artwork to Tell a Story

Artwork is a powerful way to infuse personality and history into your home. Curate a collection that reflects both the historical context of your house and your personal taste. Antique paintings, vintage prints, and contemporary art pieces can coexist beautifully when thoughtfully arranged.

Consider creating a gallery wall featuring a mix of historical portraits, landscapes, and modern art. This approach adds visual interest and tells a story of your home’s evolution. Sculptures, ceramics, and other three-dimensional art forms can enhance the décor and serve as intriguing conversation pieces.

Lighting: Merging Function and Aesthetics

Lighting is a crucial aspect of any home décor. Aim to combine functional lighting with fixtures that complement the architectural style of your home. For example, chandeliers and sconces with wrought iron or brass finishes can enhance the old-world charm of a Mediterranean Revival home. In a Colonial home, opt for traditional lanterns or candelabra-style fixtures. For Mid-Century Modern homes, consider sleek, minimalist designs with clean lines and innovative forms.

Additionally, use a mix of ambient, task, and accent lighting to create a well-lit and inviting atmosphere. Table lamps, floor lamps, and strategically placed spotlights can emphasize architectural features and add layers of light to your space.

Outdoor Spaces

In Palm Beach, outdoor living is a significant aspect of daily life. Extend the charm of your home to your outdoor spaces by incorporating period-appropriate elements and landscaping. Imagine a lush, Mediterranean-inspired garden with terracotta pots, vibrant flowers, garden paths, and climbing vines. Use wrought iron furniture and decorative tiles to enhance the outdoor ambiance.

Personalized Touches

Finally, make your historic home truly yours by adding personalized touches that reflect your style and interests. Heirlooms, travel souvenirs, and personal collections can add warmth and character to your home. These items personalize the space and create a unique blend of history and contemporary living.

Decorating a historic home in Palm Beach is a rewarding experience that allows you to combine the charms of the past with the comforts of modern living. Find a beautiful Palm Beach home to call your very own with Elizabeth DeWoody by your side.


Elizabeth is able to provide quick, easy access to on and off-market properties.

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