All you need to know about the “Modern Heritage Style” and how to achieve it

“It creates a beautiful dance between traditional and modern design” (Image: GETTY)

Our Instagram feeds are full of good-looking homes that effortlessly combine traditional features and antiques – with modern styles, artwork, and hardware.

Old meets new look great, if you get it right.

This “heritage modern style”—typically featuring wall panels and historical paint colors and patterns, and sitting alongside contemporary pieces and shapes—is on the rise.

But you don’t need to live in a home with a lot of traditional features to make it happen. Whether you’re on a Victorian balcony or a new detached building, there are design approaches that allow you to create a contemporary home full of features.

What is the modern heritage style?

First of all, what does this term really mean?

“The modern heritage style blends traditional British design elements, such as wood paneling, rich autumnal color palettes and patterned wallpaper, with contemporary touches in art, decorative objects and furniture motifs,” explains Wren Loucks, CEO and creative director of interior design studio Be. -leather.

‘For example, imagine you are sitting in a deep Howard-style armchair, upholstered in soft cotton Claremont fabric.

An antique oak sideboard is to your left, covered with art books and small decorative objects, and above it a strong, bold, geometric piece of modern artwork.

The artwork is a ‘modern touch’ – and adds a boost of energy through the aesthetic tension it creates with more traditional design features. This tension is at the core of Heritage Modern style.

“When executed well, Heritage Modern style creates a beautiful dance between traditional and modern design, adding energy and a sense of unexpected playfulness to the room.”

A large window with shutters and antique tables and chairs in front of it

It doesn’t need native features – but it helps… (Photo: Athina Kontos/Be-kin projects by Wren Loucks)

    Blank Black Wall Painting With Wooden Chair

Wall panels are a classic feature of Heritage Modern style (Images: Getty Images)

White paneled living room with green velvet sofa and scattered pillows

A more accurate look at the trend (Image: Getty)

Modern Heritage is all about style and comfort — according to Avalana Simpson, Creative Director of Avalana Design.

“It is a relaxing experience of the luxury of an English country mansion with a modern design, bringing historic Britain into the existing interior space,” she told Metro.co.uk.

The look isn’t just a style reserved for those who live in the countryside.

“It’s a trend that works beautifully with most home styles, which means it’s really popular because it’s so affordable,” she adds.

Why is it so popular now

Sites like Instagram and Pinterest have a lot to do with it, since we are all constantly exposed to photos of beautiful houses, decorated in this style.

“The Heritage Modern style enhances the property’s original and historic features while also introducing modern and contemporary elements to enhance its original design,” says Matt Siberi, home head of Pinterest.

On Pinterest, we’ve recently seen a rise in popularity for this interior trend as people seek inspiration to renovate Victorian homes in a way that pays homage to the old, while bringing in the new.

“We’ve seen an increase in searches related to Heritage Modern style, including paneled walls, modern Victorian interiors and neo-traditional design.”


On a yearly basis, Pinterest searches for terms related to “heritage modern style”:

  • Paneled walls + 95%
  • “Pink Wallpaper“ + 20%
  • “Floor-to-ceiling bookshelves” + 20%
  • Conventional + 10%
  • “Modern traditional” + 20%
  • “Modern British Colonial Style” +15%
  • “ Pink Pattern Wallpaper ” + 30%
  • ‘‘Striped Wallpaper’’ + 45%
  • “Pink Wallpaper“ + 20%
  • “Victorian Houses” + 15%
  • “Old Victorian Homes Interior” + 2.5x
  • Modern Victorian Decoration + 20%
  • “Modern Victorian Interior” + 95%
  • ‘Modern Victorian’ + 20%
  • + 60% Victorian Living Room

*Based on UK searches ending in the week ending June 4, 2021 vs. the week ending June 3, 2022

But it can work in other styles of homes, too—and it has a lot to do with the feeling it evokes, and the principles behind its sustainability.

“The Heritage Modern style induces a sense of comfort and relaxation for many people, which is why so many try to create it within their homes,” says Wren.

Colorful bathroom with pink wallpaper and mint green sink unit

There are ways to bring in aspects of the trend, while still feeling modern and fun (Image: GETTY)

Rustic bathroom with cylindrical bathtub

A rustic look, a modern heritage bathroom (Photo: Getty Images/Image Source)

It also invites a sense of play because it relies on many decorative layers to achieve the look – so you can keep adding to and tweaking it, unlike the very simple and often avoided style of organizing it.

“It has a casual feel to it, which creates a relaxed inner mood.

Consumers are also aware of the role they play in climate change and want to spend their money on ethical and sustainable products.

“The fact that Heritage Modern style works best when using antiques and reusing existing furniture, makes it a very ethical design style.”

How to get the look in your home

Matt suggests: “You can achieve an authentic Victorian look by keeping the property’s most intricate period features—including its wooden beams, large windows, and even its stained-glass front door.”

Bright colors and patterns are very common today and also look great when combined with Victorian features for a ‘old-meets-new’ feel.

“We recommend incorporating rich colors and patterns into the home and adding antique furniture accents to achieve the perfect Modern Heritage style.”

Experts agree that playing with style, color, features, and “fixed clothes” is the name of the game.

Wren suggests, “If you have low-key wood planks in the hall, paint them a dark historical color and install patterned wallpaper above.” “For example, Hamilton Weston has a wallpaper collection called ‘Historic’ which has some lovely options. Decorate the wall with modern artwork, which you can hang ‘salon style’.”

She also suggests thinking of every table and sideboard top, as an opportunity to create a tabletop view.

Bedroom with dark green paneled wall, bed and bedside table

Layers are important and useful for building the look you want (Image: Getty Images)

White brick wall with two tiers hung on it, with green side panel in the front, vase with pampas grass

Repurpose existing furniture and buy antiques (Image: Getty Images)

She adds, “The tablescape is a variety of things, carefully curated. It could be a stack of art books, with their spines on display, next to a pretty modern vase overflowing with tulips.”

Mix table lamps with fabric shades. Table lamps have a more traditional feel about them, and the low light creates a relaxing atmosphere.

Reuse existing furniture and buy antiques. Avoid shops with modern designs for easily recognizable furniture.

The use of color is important

The color palette you use, as well as how you pair with other colors and patterns, will play a big role in the success of this look.

Avalana advises that “rich, historic paint colors from the archives like gold, moss greens, and royal blues are elevated to create a wow factor, taking center stage rather than a dim back seat.”

Try introducing a lively color palette of sunset yellows, vegan greens, and teal.

Siobhan Murphy's reception room features custom murals on every wall - even the ceiling

The reception room of Siobhan Murphy’s home features a bespoke custom mural by Avalana on every wall—even the ceiling—a modern heritage from a new borderline point of view. (Photo: Pique Pictures)

“Wallpaper provides an ideal choice of bold pattern and dramatic color to accentuate walls or entire rooms—designs that reproduce crowded Victorian botanical or floral prints, for example, that catch the eye and add interest.”

However, she advises that to evoke the modern heritage, these prints must be re-imagined to a fresh extreme and complemented by modern artwork and prints.


Golden Rules of Modern Heritage:

Rain Tips –

  • Consider scale and pattern mix. Not all styles keep the same scale in the room.
  • Think about the harmony and flow of colors, then add something that creates tension every now and then.
  • Use antiques – patinas add originality to this style.
  • Avoid buying new things designed to look like antiques. There are plenty of great masterpieces that will add originality to your design scheme.

According to Avalana –

  • Use the roof: As more homeowners are getting bolder and bolder with colors and patterns, they are also exploring using the ceiling as the fifth wall on their property to create the illusion of space and create a continuation of the scheme.
  • Choose antique furniture that tells a story: Creating a luxurious backdrop for a space using heritage paints, and vintage wall coverings will revive a collection of antique furniture and prized home décor items from times past.
  • Perfect board: For those who thought slates would go out of fashion as quickly as they arrived, they’d be shocked to see it reigning supreme here. It perfectly balances the room and you should also consider large wavy cornice moldings to emphasize the height of your rooms.

The main things to remove:

When asked if there is anything to do and what to avoid, Wren says, first and foremost, you should enjoy it.

“Be aware of how each room flows into the next,” she adds.

If you’re redecorating your entire home, it’s a good idea to start with an overall concept design to give you the clear direction from the get-go, which includes a color palette for each space.

Remember that decorative layers create this aesthetic – so once you have the main pieces of furniture, think about lighting, then think about decorative objects and the arts.

“Working and Thinking in Layers of Design.”

This article contains affiliate links. We may earn a small commission on purchases made through one of these links, but this never affects the opinions of our experts. Products are tested and reviewed independently of commercial initiatives.

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