Decorating Basics: Timeless Decor

To get that timeless look for your home, it makes sense to keep or invest in key decor items and materials that will transition not only through the various periods of your life, but also through changing styles.

Residence Style

You might have decorative items like that right now: an antique dresser with a beveled mirror or a well-made headboard your dad gave you when you got your first place.


timeless decor items

Items that last a lifetime, and are passed on from generation to generation, include a variety of decor and furnishings that marry both outstanding function and beautiful design. Vases, oak dressers, teak dining room tables, old stoneware, dutch ovens, great sofas, and high tier beds are many items that are heirloom worthy. Take a look at some of my favorites.

Heirloom Quality Furnishings

1.  Antique Dining Table

Go ahead and take auntie’s offer of her old table! If your aunt isn’t giving away her table any time soon, consider investing in a large oak dining table or one made from another high quality wood.

Coastal Living, Nicole Miller

Well-made, antique, and handcrafted fine wood dining tables are easily updated with decorative touches such as linens, centerpieces, and chairs. Keep your antique table clean and preserve the wood by using a tablecloth and coasters or placemats. Use a wood cleaner and polisher with a soft cloth.


2. Handcrafted Dresser

A handcrafted pine, oak, teak, or walnut dresser or focal piece is something long lasting, evergreen, and versatile.

 timeless decor items

This kind of decor item lasts a lifetime! Every time someone comes to my house they notice the remarkable dressers in my daughter’s room–one is a large oak dresser embellished with curvilinear wood carvings, and hails from the 1920s (it’s a wonderful gift from my best friend’s parents, it once belonged to her grandfather). This dresser will last many more years. If this type of item loses its charm for you as a clothing storage unit, you can move it to a different part of your house like the bathroom, living room, or hallway.


To preserve the quality of your dresser, make sure the joints are secure and treat it well. Be sure to dust it regularly and use gentle wood-specific cleaner. Musty smells from longtime storage are easily wiped away by using a spray bottle to clean the drawers (use water and a touch of essential oil such as bergamot or lavender.) You can also line the drawers with scented paper or add sachets with lavender or cedar shavings.

3. Rocking Chair

Everyone should have a rocking chair. They come in so many different styles, but you want to make sure you go for both comfort and design.

rocking chair 

A modern chair can look great in a traditional living room, and an old fashioned bentwood like the one above is fabulous in a contemporary space.

A rocking chair is a great spot for reading, relaxing, and rocking a baby. It can be placed almost anywhere: living rooms, kitchens, porches, bedrooms, nurseries, and even in gardens.

rocking chair

You can keep the chair as is or you can paint it, add pillows, throws, and make it your own! Put pads underneath the legs of the chair to keep it from scratching your floor, and keep it far enough a way from the wall to stop overzealous rockers from scuffing the chair and the wall. If your chair is wood, and is unpainted, treat it as you would any wood piece.

Contrary to common belief these types of dressers actually look great with any type of interior decor: traditional, rustic, transitional, country, modern, and contemporary.

Timeless Decor Touches  

1. Great Paint in Neutral Palettes

Neutral paints act as a stage for your decor and your life and they can handle change!

timeless decor items

I love color and think it makes a home unique. But if you are looking for a long-lasting style that holds up to changing lifestyles and interior décor trends, neutral and monochrome paints are recommended.

Classic or historic colors are winners.

julie blanner

This lovely gray is stylish and long lasting. You can add trending or exciting new patterns and fabrics with items like shades, throw pillows, prints, or furniture covers.

2. Functional and Attractive Window Treatments

It’s no good having a pair of filmy curtains that are pretty but give no privacy. It’s worth investing the time, effort, and money in window dressings that you love and that work well.

Try to stay as classic as possible for long-lasting, evergreen style but, most importantly, choose something that works well for your needs be it privacy, keeping out cold or hot temperature, or adding a touch of luxe.


Remember, if you bought blackout shades to block out light but they are a color you don’t really like, you will eventually get rid of them.

Go for a neutral color or for something that does its job but is completely and utterly beautiful to you as well.

Meredith Heron chair

3. Finished or Restored Mantelpiece

 A fireplace, whether it’s functioning or not, is a great focal point for any home. The mantel makes or breaks the look, so it’s worth restoring or renovating.


If you have an original fireplace in your home refurbish the mantel, try to keep the historic character, and do your research: find pictures of original fireplaces from your home’s period, or, if it’s no longer stable, replace it with a high quality material. While you might need to replace the inside of a chimney, a well-made exterior brings value and appeal to your home.

4. Artwork

Art as decor can pretty much mean anything you love and consider to be well made. Remember to keep all purchasing information about the work and any correspondence from the artist or dealer.


You can find outstanding antique pieces, including decorative statues, vases, furniture pieces, as well as paintings and drawings from MFA exhibitions and fairs.

timeless decor items

Images courtesy of Residence StyleHeitbaumCoastal Living,  Mi CasaKelly Grobson, My Sweet Savannah BlogThe Every GirlDesignmilkDavid Duncan LivingstonJulie BlannerZhush, Meredith Heron, Living, Corriere, ItalyHelenio Barbetta, and Nordic Design.


About The Author

Art+Design Consultant

Art historian by training, curator, writer and design lover. Principal of Art +Design Consulting. Lover of all things well made.