What Is Updated Traditional: A Primer on New Trad from High Point Market

In showrooms across High Point Market, manufacturers classified new products as "updated traditional" — a classic form sensible for modern consumers sometimes referred to as new trad. But what does that actually mean? We have a few thoughts.

Alison Martin
10/16/2018
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Gray bed and mirrored night stands from Hooker Furniture
The Reverie Collection from Hooker Furniture represents the updated traditional aesthetic. So what does that actually mean?

Earlier this year, a renewed interest in traditional style and design began to take shape. In our February issue, we dove into the new traditional, or new trad, style and how manufacturers and designers like Corey Damen Jenkins were interpreting it.

Now eight months later at High Point Market, showrooms introduced new products they classified as updated traditional, and if you heard this phrase, you likely thought, "Okay, but what does that actually mean?"

We had similar thoughts, so after touring many showrooms and hearing the phrase said again and again, here's what we glean updated traditional to mean.

Lighter finishes

Traditional design is easily recognized by its heavy woods, ornate carvings and elegant curves, but in showrooms like Baker, Century and Bernhardt, casegoods stood out in lighter finishes such as grays (distressed or otherwise) and even some lighter beige, almost white, finishes.

Of course, those pieces were also available in darker finishes, but the fact that showrooms chose to show the lighter finishes (such as the bed from Hooker shown above) hints that this new form of traditional design may be characterized not by dark woods and heavy curtains, but by brighter, more welcoming finishes.

Pops of accent patterns

No need to be boring here. This updated traditional never shies away from pattern. Color may still be neutral, but patterns on all types of seating made for great textures and even pops of color.

In Taylor King, wing chairs covered in big, bold florals (an ongoing trend at this market) stood out, and in Norwalk, Americana-esque paisley patterns covered traditional shapes.

As was said in Chaddock's showroom, consumers could have their neutral sofa done in a performance fabric and then change out their accent chair or just its fabric as styles change and evolve.

Embroidered floral chair from Taylor King
Big florals look more modern at Taylor King when they're bright and bold.

In need of motion

Maybe swivel chairs have always been popular with big recliners, but in traditional design, not so much — at least not in recent years. This High Point Market, however, it seems nearly every accent chair was on a swivel. It would appear that consumers no longer wish to sit still.

But these chairs look nothing like their faux leather counterparts. These chairs come in tub and barrel shapes, and they're upholstered in high-quality and performance fabrics. If you walked through Kim Salmela' section of Norwalk's showroom, you might have walked right past a recliner and never noticed. Done in a teal fabric, the chair had a small button on the side was tough to notice (unless Caroline Hipple, President of Norwalk Furniture, pointed it out to you).


Did you notice this updated traditional style at High Point Market? What did you think? Share with us in the comments!

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