Decorating Tips: Incorporating Antique Furniture into Existing Spaces

July 22nd, 2010 by

Incorporating inherited or recently acquired antique furniture into an existing décor can add warmth, pedigree and distinction to your home. Even if the old doesn’t technically match the new, there are dozens of tricks, tips and attitudes you can adopt that will bring the room together and make it a welcoming haven that beautifully showcases your style.

1)      Don’t try too hard. Matchy-matchy aspects can date a room and bring it down anyway, so why force parallelism between pieces that don’t match and never will? If you have a modern end table on one side of a sofa, don’t position your antique table at the other end. Put the antique table under a window instead. Let it have a place of its own.

2)      Be true to yourself. Hide nothing. A beautiful piece of antique furniture is a beautiful piece, no matter what happens to be standing nearby. Don’t cover a table—or any other antique furniture– with a blanket in an effort to blend styles. Rather, place a runner on the table with a color that picks up and plays off of other colors in the room.

3)      The same principle applies to throw pillows, knickknacks, wall art, and other movable splashes of color. You’d be surprised a how well a small but consistent streak of blue can tie an otherwise disparate room together.

4)      Be playful. Recognize that the flexibility of the room and the flexibility of your aesthetic can allow each to bring out the best in the other. Antique furniture from a certain period may not convey your exact style, but the way in which it entered your life says something about you. If this piece of antique furniture belonged to your grandma, remember that your grandma is part of who you are. Let the room represent all aspects of you, not just a filtered few. See what happens!

5)      Finally, remember the most important rule of interior design—if you like an item, then it doesn’t matter why. In some mysterious way, a group of items selected by one person have a common thread that binds them together, whether the thread is easy to identify or not. If everything in the room is yours, and everywhere the eye falls it falls on something that you find beautiful, then in some magic way, the room will feel comfortable, balanced and pleasing to others. Design, like any other art, is half science and half magic. Enjoy your new-old antique furniture, and have confidence in your instincts!

By Erin Sweeney