Just as a good host blanches at the thought of seeing guests underfed, a traditionalist can’t stomach cold, blank walls or sparsely populated shelves, which defeat the all-important air of welcome. Collections are massed together or fanned out in a logical way: china, figurines, plants, books, boxes, globes.
If it’s not mounted over the mantel, art usually follows the hang-it-at-eye-level rule; a group of similar pieces often sport identical frames and are arranged in a tidy grid. Plates and platters look right at home on the walls. Mirrors tend to be grand and gracious (think sunburst, bull’s-eye or Venetian).
Make it fresh: Austere paintings and sculpture will strike an off note in a traditional space, but you don’t have to stick with Renoir reproductions and hunting scenes, either. Lots of modern art feels soft and graceful enough to fit in, and, of course, black-and-white photography is timeless and versatile. Leaving canvases frameless can make them feel less formal.
Unless you’re into fern bars, pass up frilly plants in favor of more sculptural foliage. Consider simple ironstone, Delft or creamware instead of porcelain; balance elaborately patterned pieces with clean white ones.