Few things please me more creatively than having design perimeters to include antiques and vintage pieces. Circa 1950 glass cocktail table with a gilt “wheat sheath base; Edwardian rotating bookcase; Curtis Jere’ raindrop mirror? Yes, yes, yes.
The fun in this type of project lies in finding the right fabrics
and furnishings to create a ‘mix of old and new’. The perfect sofa, chairs and
coordinating fabrics pull the eras together into a visually pleasing way. I
love the look and feel of this type of project. It’s much harder to achieve
than buying all your furniture at one place in time but the benefits are
numerous. By blending eras, your design
schemes will evolve much better and stay in style longer. You won’t be
replacing everything at once, in fact you probably won’t be replacing much at
all except changing out the fabrics every fifteen years. It looks better. The
appearance is less cookie cutter. The whole environment is more original.
When blending new fabrics and upholstered or slip covered seating
with old tables, hutches and wooden chairs think first about the coloration of
the wood. Light, ashen wood tones look stunning with black, red, cobalt and
taupe fabrics. The yellow tones inherent in pine work well with Kelly green and
dark, bluish red. Cherry wood stains work well within many color schemes.
What about all gray and all white interiors? They are best with painted
furniture. And by the way, as much popularity as they’ve enjoyed in recent
years, they will be on their way out of style in another three or four years. I
wouldn’t invest in any new design projects in this style as it will look dated.
Any style that’s been that popular always looks more dated than other styles.
Placement of your antiques and vintage pieces is key. You want to
use them as little focal points and surround them with more modern items such
as new lamps, current coffee table books and modern vases filled with current
day floral designs. Unless space is confined, I always place the most desirable
furnishings to be seen first as you enter the room. I do this in the living
room and entry areas especially. Wherever there is something particularly
beautiful, I emphasize or call attention to it in some way.
Antiques and artwork have provided a solid
design direction in some of the grandest homes in the country. Yes they add
history but for me, I love the “look” of mixing old and new elements in my
residential projects. I
especially love the sentimental aspect of using and reusing things that were
special to me… when my son was young and still living at home.
When furnishing a home with antiques, try working in some trendy
fabrics and accessories to bring them up to date. Mixing traditional and
contemporary pieces is easier if you find a common denominator such as color
and fabric styles.
To collect artwork, research, evaluate and buy pieces that attract
your eye. Choose each individual work in a way that forms meaningful groupings,
also called collecting.
collectors agree, don’t decorate your home around your artwork and don’t
collect artwork around your décor.
The term antique as applied to furniture is defined as being at least 100 years old, while vintage is defined as at least twenty years old.
Don’t be quick to discard your old wood pieces, antique,
retro or vintage. Try using them as the catalyst for your next design
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