Decorative antique pieces have a lot to offer—a striking appearance, a tie to the past, and top-notch quality that is often hard to find in modern, mass-produced furniture. Unfortunately, many people find it intimidating to incorporate older items into a modern home. Here are five tips to help you find the best way to use antiques in your own interior design.
Pick a Goal
There are a lot of different reasons people decorate with antiques, and each of these reasons will require a slightly different approach. Before you start rearranging furniture, take a moment to think about what you’re trying to achieve with your decor. If you’re trying to recreate a specific moment in history, you’ll need to match pieces from a particular century or even decade, and you’ll want to carefully research period-appropriate wall colors and floor coverings. If, on the other hand, you’re just trying to have some unique pieces that can’t just be purchased at the big box store down the street, you’ll need to take care to select simpler items that won’t clash horribly with the more modern aspects of your interior. Taking a moment to thoughtfully define your goals can save you from many missteps and wasted money later.
Group Antiques Thoughtfully
Smaller ornaments and curiosities are versatile and relatively inexpensive way to get start with antiques, but you should be careful how you use them when decorating. Don’t make the mistake of just scattering them around the room. That approach becomes messy quickly and leads to a living room that looks more like a salvage shop than an elegant salon. Instead, group items by theme so that they look like a collection, rather than just junk.
Try to stick with small, odd-numbered groups of items. If you have more than three or five collectibles that you’d like to display in one place, consider keeping only a portion of them out and rotating in new ones every week or so. This way you still get to display your whole collection, but everything stays fresh and interesting as well as uncluttered.
Tie in the Artwork
Art will make or break a room regardless of your goals. Period-appropriate, religious art is a necessity if you’re going for a classical, Old-World aesthetic, when the impact of religion on art was apparent in almost all works of the classical era. Standing alone, a piece or two of antique furniture in a modern room can look out of place. Adding appropriate artwork can make it feel like the furniture is part of a gentle theme, rather than just being plunked down in the room for no reason.
Don’t Be Afraid of the New
Except for in the strictest of historical designs, nearly every room will benefit from a few modern touches. Try incorporating a few newer, more stream-lined items to help retain a little of the breathing room we’re accustomed to nowadays. Wooden or upholstered items typically fit in best with a room full of antiques, particularly if you stick to wood stains or fabric textures that tie in with the rest of the furniture. Modern pieces can also be helpful for housing and hiding modern necessities like electronics so that they don’t distract from your Old-World feel.
Old objects don’t have to be used for their original purposes. Think about incorporating architectural items like stained glass and ornate window frames as wall decorations. Furniture can be quite versatile, too. China cabinets make elegant bookshelves or curiosity cabinets if you don’t have space for them in your dining room, and secretaries and sideboards are just as useful in an entryway as they are in an office or kitchen.
Using antiques doesn’t have to be intimidating. With these five tips, you can confidently create the perfect design for your own home using the gorgeous antique pieces you’ve collected.