It is no secret that I have a weakness for antiques. In fact, the majority of my design clients seek me out because I love to mix old and new. While many people appreciate this curated look, the actual execution can be tricky and does take some mastery. I am often asked, “how do I use antiques in my home without it feeling like a museum?” or “which antiques are still in and which should be parted with?”. I have never been a fan of matchy-matchy modern interiors or stuffy antique-ridden spaces, but instead opt for a well thought-out and blended approach. I have always had an appreciation for many different time periods and styles, and believe a piece can be inspiring and beautiful regardless of its provenance.
Successful spaces are all about contrast. Bringing in an antique with warm, rich patina or a chipped, painted finish instantly creates a layered feeling. This communicates that the furnishings and details have been collected over time, and not just purchased all at once. A quote by Stephen Covey that I whole-heartedly echo states, “strength lies in differences, not in similarities.” Simplicity and complexity need each other to fully appreciate both; new and old help each other to shine in interiors.
I, like many of my clients, live for that wonderfully collected, unique mix! While striking a perfect balance is often a challenge, I strive to create juxtaposition, tension, and interest in all of my design projects. Read on to see how I embrace opposites, and why I think mixing old and new is a match made in heaven!
Contrast is Key: Place your treasured vintage collection on display near your favorite contemporary art piece, or showcase a contemporary lamp on an antique chest. Keeping these contrasting items in a few concentrated areas of the home will ensure they look sophisticated and not cluttered. In view, these pieces can play off each other, telling a story in your space – and not to mention are a striking conversation piece.
Thoughtful Updates: I am always going for a look that feels considered – not chaotic. One of my favorite ways to mix old and new is to reupholster an antique furniture piece in a more contemporary fabric. You might also consider simply adding a vintage light fixture or mirror to a more contemporary vignette. It’s amazing how adding just one antique can instantly change the energy in a room, and help the more current pieces to shine.
Cohesion through Unity: Grouping decorative objects, old and new, by a shared quality is a helpful tactic. For instance, creating a vignette of accessories in a cohesive color palette will unify the items, and be more visually pleasing. This juxtaposition will bring about an element of the unexpected, but with the unifying quality this won’t feel mishmashed or jarring.
I think it is so important to surround yourself with things you love. After all, our homes are where we find comfort and recharge. A well orchestrated “mix” can spark inspiration, joy, and energy. Both fashionable and fresh, collected and curated – the mixing of old and new will always be the hallmark of my design style. Good, versatile design is happily at home among both contemporary and antiquity.