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Traditional Columns. Modern Space.
Whenever I'm viewing properties and I see traditionally-stylled columns, my first instinct is always drywall, especially on those ornate Italian monstrosities that bleed opulence.  I usually prefer the smooth look of drywall to the lavishly detailed posts.  But my friend sent me some photos of a house she's considering to get my thoughts, and I started to re-envision the column look.  So rather than drywalling over an architectural feature that may be complementary to the house (I would never commit that crime to any historic build.), I've decided to embrace columns.  With the right contemporary complements, these columns don't have to scream traditional, but can work rather well in a modern home. 
design shuffle

I love the way this slick modern kitchen blends with the giant white column.  Here, the traditional architecture is embraced, and the clean polished floors mixed with the contrast of the teak-colored cabinets draw the eye in.  The uncluttered counters allow the eye to focus in on the architectural details rather than being busied with minutiae.
1950s Eames meets traditional architecture, and yes, columns.  Notice the traditional kitchen and built-in hutch in the background.  The white paint helps keep it clean, and contrasts nicely with the greens and browns in the room, which are easy on the eyes.
As craftsman-traditional as this looks, I can see modern furniture lines going in.  But it needs whiter walls.  The contrast in the wall color busies it up.

This apartment by Luis Puerta exemplifies the perfect mix of modern lines with fluffy traditional scrolls.  The columns here become a warm feature of the room rather than a bad decision from the 90s.  The white paint, white furniture, and natural light help keep it clean, too.

This is a picture of the entry in the house my friend asked me about.  The dark wood, faux wall paint, and ornate chandeliers can easily be changed.  Wood floors or polished modern tile would help brighten the space.  Some furniture with clean lines paired with a large piece of modern art will provide a focal point for the defined space inside the columns.  My advice to her?  Lots of white paint!