Antiques have been making a huge resurgence in contemporary interior design in recent times. Albeit with a new twist or two. Designers and consumers alike, are realising that antique furniture is greener, as it’s generally well built, and lasts far longer than mass produced items. And there is a growing recognition of the romantic charm associated with fine quality and older items.
Antiques are becoming popular with the millennial generation, who report to identify with the idea of a connection to the past, to well made items, that speak of a by gone era. There is an emerging romanticism around uniqueness in a mass produced world, supporting craftsmanship, and many are now turning towards the fun experiences associated with antique hunting.
Antiques Mix & Match
The most startling elements of this new design movement, is its eclecticism and individualism, which some have labelled ‘Eclectic Minimalism’.
In the past, those designing antique interiors would be careful to make sure that all of the furniture in a room was of the same era. If they wanted to be more purist, all of the soft furnishing and everything about the interior would contextualise.
What has really emerged is a far more free spirited approach towards designing with Antiques. Designers are deliberately combining older, finer antiques with Mid-Century Modern. Some aim to tell quite specific stories, some have thrown out the rule book entirely, combining across a wide range of styles.
This new approach is far more about telling the story of the individual, or a group, or family, rather than the wider identity associated with a particular era. One or two signature antique pieces are carefully selected, most likely from contrasting eras, within the context of a more minimal and modern approach.
It is about connecting to what you personally like, rather than following an arbitrary set of rules. And being unafraid to embrace your quirkier, more whimsical side, whilst following some basic design principals.
Practical Idea & Tips – Get Eclectic with Antique Furniture
So with this modern eclecticism the first rule is that there are no hard and fast rules. It’s very much about selecting what you like in a more instinctual way. However by opting for this approach completely, you run the risk of ending up with a big old mess. So here are a few practical tips to prevent that.
Group Antiques & Collectibles By Colour
A calm and stylish feeling can be achieved in a space that embraces contrasting texture’s and styles, but groups items by colour/tones. This can also apply to the artwork selected, and soft furnishings. Colour can provide an essential harmonising thread. Even if employed in a very subtle fashion.
Or if you fancy something bolder, why not opt for complimentary colours? By using just 2 complimentary colours sparsely, alongside a good deal of neutral tone in your decor, you can deliberately draw the eye in the directions of your choosing.
Antique Focal Points
Less is still more. Rather than a cluttered space full of items. Make one or 2 truly magnificent pieces of antique furniture a focal point. So that when you enter a room, your eye casts towards them.
Never ‘Away for Best’ For Your Antique Collectibles & Treasured Items
Last night I was at a talk about sustainability in the fashion industry. And one of the speakers spoke about how her grandmother always put her clothes “away for best” only to never be worn. And how she was challenging that notion by wearing her’ best’ more often.
This story mirrors perfectly the new approach towards antiques. Collectable treasures and smaller items are now being placed centre stage, rather than away in the loft. If you love something celebrate it! Keep it on the coffee table, or within view certainly. It will make a fabulous talking point. It’s a part of your story. If you don’t truly love it , or have too many things, pass some on to be treasured by someone else.
This movement is about having a few really great quality items that you treasure and celebrate. It is about using them rather than hoarding, or chaos. Remember one truly beautiful, luxury piece of antique furniture, that will last many life times, and can be bought for less than the price of 10 other things with shorter lifespans. This movement is about celebrating quality and putting it centre stage.
Balancing Old & New: Vintage Meets Modern
There is no golden ratio of old to new items as it really depends on the room, the period of the property, light levels and more. However a well designed room that balances old and new should give a real sense of harmony.
For example, the right piece of antique furniture in a very modern kitchen, blended with a couple of antique kitchen collectables, lampshades, or candle sticks etc, can offer a very warm and homely feel, despite the contrasts.
Two fine Georgian chairs, can look great, and far more light hearted, sat next to a Mid-Century Modern side board. Don’t be afraid to consider new ideas and groupings. You might be surprised.
Let Your Light Shine
Step back for a moment and ask yourself: What does your home say about you? Don’t be afraid to let your personality and individuality shine through. Antique furniture blends really well with modern up-cycled design, a wide range of art movements, and more.
Why not let your hobbies shine though in your choice or art or fabric? Or why not group a collection according something else that takes your fancy such as a family story? Botanical link? Or by pieces crafted within a certain radius of your house?
Use Antiques to Tell Stories
Remember that every piece of antique furniture has a story. From the tree that it came from, to the maker and their life, all the way up to your experience of buying it, and it’s life now in your unique home.
Bizarrely, eclectic interior design also has quite a strong focus on functionality. Make sure that the main, antique, focal-point piece, has a clear purpose within the room. This will feel more harmonious and calming. We aren’t aiming for surrealism after all.
Once you have decided upon that signature piece. Be sure to ask the dealer for as much information as possible. Here at Nimbus we love the stories behind our special pieces, and are always happy to help. Dealers sell antiques because they love them. Mostly they will be a fantastic source of knowledge.
Accept No Imitations
With a rise in popularity of antiques once more, it is important to be aware of a few tell tale signs that your antiques are genuine. A reputable dealer will always be able to guide you; but there are some basic signs to look out for.
There should be no chipboard, cross head screws, joints should be dovetailed etc, and with certain pieces, there will be signs of handcrafting or machine work. For more information be sure to make use of our Comprehensive Guide To Spotting Fake Antiques
Have Fun With Antiques
We hope you have fun re-vamping your space with antiques. For further information on antique buying feel free to have a browse around our website or showroom. Eclecticism is of course only one way to decorate with antique furniture. For more guidance, why not pop in and say hello.