I love when a client wants to incorporate a beautiful antique dining table passed down from their grandparents into their dining room, or when someone shows me a quirky vintage collection of objects that they want to display in their space. When integrated successfully, these unique items can infuse your home with meaning and personality, making it truly one-of-a-kind. But as an interior designer, I know the challenges of incorporating vintage and antique pieces into a space so it still feels fresh and up-to-date. Here are my top five tips to successfully incorporate vintage and antique pieces into your home decor, so your home doesn’t end up looking like a museum or a movie set from another era. —Lori Steeves, founder, Simply Home Decorating
Find a Good Balance. Beware of placing too many matching pieces, or multiple pieces from a “set” together in one room. I like to use the 80/20 rule. For instance, in the first dining room above, we paired the client’s antique table and sideboard with new upholstered chairs, a navy painted console cabinet, a custom oval wool rug, new lighting and hardware, fresh patterned drapery and colourful artwork. This combination strikes just the right balance of old and new. In the second example above, we relocated the matching antique glass china cabinet (seen above left of the fireplace) to the adjacent living room where we paired it with modern, neutral furnishings, creating continuity between the living and dining rooms.
Consider Colours and Wood Finishes. For a seamless look, keep wood tones consistent on pieces that will be placed together. In the room above we ensured that the walnut legs of the dining chairs were a close match to the walnut finish on the vintage table.
Select One Star Of The Show. If a piece is ornate, like the dining table above with its intricately carved turned legs, let it be the star of the show. The surrounding pieces, like these simple upholstered dining chairs, the streamlined chandelier, and the sleek round mirror, should support, not compete with, the statement piece.
Dare To Be Eclectic. Have some fun by pairing antiques with more modern pieces or mixing pieces from different eras. For instance, in the room above we paired a client’s heirloom pecan dining table with a classic mid-century style light fixture and dining chairs. In the adjacent living-room space we included reproduction mid-century chairs upholstered in orange felt. Note that the right mix of objects here is critical—that’s where professional help may be required!
Consider Updating or Upcycling. If you have a great antique piece that is showing some wear, or a vintage piece that is looking a little outdated, you may want to consider refinishing, painting or re-upholstering for a fresh new look. We updated this antique chaise with a stylish menswear fabric, putting a masculine twist on an otherwise feminine piece, giving it a whole new personality.