Living Room Style | Modern-Traditional

This living room design came together as such a beautiful fusion of modern and traditional style, we couldn’t wait to share all the details with you. Although we work with clients all over the Eastern US, our studio and home base is in the heart of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and we love it when we get a chance to create beautiful spaces right here in our hometown. We’ve got so much love for our local community here, and these homeowners were a true delight. Infusing their classic Chapel Hill home with lots of charm and beautiful, modern touches was a designer’s dream.

Small side table in Chapel HIll Living Room - Cat French Design

Classic + Timeless

For our readers near and far, we’ll share just a little bit about homes ’round these parts. Every area of the country has unique architecture and aesthetics (one of the things that makes design so wonderful!), and North Carolina is no exception. Chapel Hill, as well as other parts throughout North Carolina, have many homes with beautiful, traditional elements, many of which you’ll see throughout this space- features like classic mantels, crown molding, wainscoting, and pillars. You may remember some of this from their gorgeous Dining Room, which we showed you in our last post! One of our favorite views below:

Navy Beaded Chandelier - Catherine French Design

A Function of Great Design

Let’s dig right into this beautiful Living Room. This space is a hub of activity in this home- it’s both a family space for relaxing and connection, in addition to also serving as a more formal living room. It’s directly adjacent to the family eat-in area and is open to the entryway and kitchen. From a function standpoint, it’s like so many areas of our homes in that it fills multiple roles and sees a lot of traffic- lounging, conversation, entertaining- this design needed to do it all! The other design challenge in this space was to create a fresh, inspired aesthetic while also incorporating several existing pieces – AND, keep our eyes on function (i.e. not just beautiful, but a truly comfortable and usable space). We know great design lives in not just amazing-looking spaces, but true LIVE-ability. Similar to their Dining Room, these homeowners have the most fabulous taste, and they wanted to keep some of the beautiful pieces they already had in the space as part of the new design.

Updated swivel and mantel in a wonderful living room design - Catherine French Design

The Perfect Surrounding

The fireplace is a focal point in this room (and visible from many other parts of the house as well), so we wanted to give it some extra design attention. We brought in custom woodworker extraordinaire Thompson Millwork to craft a custom fireplace surround. They took our design and brought it to life, making a truly beautiful, unique piece for this home. Their work on this was pristine (as always!) and the final product was the perfect combination of clean-lined and intricate, with each detail absolutely perfect. The crisp white finish of the mantle and fireplace surround seated beneath a stunning piece of abstract art ties in both the classic charm and modern detail of the space.

Modern blue rug in traditional home - Catherine French Design

Light + Fusion

To enhance that custom fireplace even further, we decided to get creative with a classic lighting feature- the sconce. This beloved fireplace accouterment is as timeless as they come- and for good reason! A beautiful sconce set brings light, warmth, and style to the ensemble. The long, sleek lines of this unique style also serve to lift the gaze to the mantel and highlight that eye-catching large art piece. The layered mixed metal finish paired with an angular shade is the perfect design-forward take on these fixtures, elegantly bringing together the core elements of the living room design and beautifully weaving together modern, traditional, and classic.

Modern Traditional sconce in Chapel Hill Living Room - Catherine French Design

Design Synthesis

Designing around existing pieces in a space presents a unique angle in a project, but it’s something we truly enjoy and do for so many clients. We’re always thinking about the big picture and how we can create a robust vision where these pieces will appear to effortlessly fall into place, and it all comes down to a lot of strategy on our end, and perfecting that custom living room design Master Plan. The couch and coffee table were a set that the homeowners wanted to incorporate into the design, but the seating area didn’t feel complete just yet. We designed a completely custom leather chair to round out the room shape and seating configuration. It was a DREAM to sit in, but also featured a low-profile back and swivel, which made it perfect for this spot in the living room where flow and visibility were key. We could go on about the gorgeous steely gray leather, but for now, let’s just say it was a big win all around!

Design Frontrunner

In the open space that merges the living room, kitchen, and hallway areas, we wanted to bring some great design flow and purpose. To do this we honed in on crafting a color story to move the eye through the transition space between the kitchen and the living room. Designing a custom carpet runner for the stairs achieved this beautifully, perfectly bridging the blue hues in the living room with the adjacent kitchen. We love how it pops against the hardwood and adds depth to the space.

Tones in Harmony

The champagne-toned transitional style console was another show-stopping piece that brought a touch of glam and a ton of visual interest to the space. We fell in love with the look of mixed metals and chrome throughout this room, and the finish of this console was the perfect warm, soft complement to the other surrounding metallic tones. Custom designed pillows in rich blues and sophisticated patterns bring together the plush neutral of the couch upholstery with the cool-toned hues in the rug, walls, and art. Deep blues and greens paired with gold and chrome throughout give the entire living room design a sleek, polished finish.

Custom pillows and navy decor accents in Living Room Design - Cat French Design

Hand in Hand

One of the strong undercurrents of this design was bringing multiple pieces and elements into a cohesive vision. Strategic design allowed us to integrate these homeowner’s loved pieces with new furnishings, we love the way new fabrics and textures, beautiful art, and some stunning, creative lighting gave this entire room a brand new feel and look. The design intersection of modern and inventive + traditional and classic is one that we always find inspiring, creative, and rewarding for both our team and our clients. We loved making this space a perfect place for these homeowners to enjoy for a lifetime.

Want to see more recent projects? Check out even more images of CFD designs on our Portfolio Page! Have questions about transforming your own space? We’re here to help, and we’re only a message away- you can always reach us at hello@catfrenchdesign.com or via our Contact Page. For more of the goings-on and happenings of this busy team, follow us on Facebook or in real-time over on Instagram at @catfrenchdesign!

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Catherine’s Bio


Cat has a Master of Fine Arts in Interior Architecture. She has designed spaces for others for years and launched Catherine French Design to fill those design needs throughout the community. She is originally from Winston-Salem. However, now she and her family in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

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