Vintage and antique furniture has been experiencing a resurgence, and this time not just for its high quality and unique style. Supply chain disruptions, steadily rising prices and long delivery times for new furniture have prompted many to turn to existing pieces, either showcased in their original form or up-cycled into something new. This is also a great way to keep furniture out of landfills, while leaving more money in your pocket. Last but certainly not least, vintage pieces bring personality and stories that don’t come off a production line.
Whether it’s an inherited dining table, a desk purchased at an estate sale, or a beloved armchair that you’ve had literally forever, there are ways to incorporate these oldies but goodies into a modern-day setting.
THE LAYERED LOOK
One way to approach an old-meets-new aesthetic is by layering vintage treasures with new-found pieces. This creates balance, and a curated collection that comes together over time. As you add to your eclectic assembly of furnishings, the character of your space evolves, making this a fun and ever-changing approach to your interiors.
When you come across an antique that’s a show-stopper, let it make a statement and treat it as a focal point in the room. On the other hand, it’s perfectly okay to have some vintage finds in the background as accent pieces.
Contrast is a natural way to make opposing aesthetics really “pop,” and it’s a great approach when adding vintage furnishings into a modern home. Pair pieces with different shapes (think organic curves juxtaposed against a straight, streamlined piece), various textures and finishes, such as matte with glossy, and a variety of materials including wood, metal, glass, stone, ceramic and so forth. By creating contrast, you’ll also help your vintage pieces stand out within the space.
Some flea-market finds have great bones but have a dated or weathered finish. Just imagine how these pieces would look with a refresh! Paint goes along way and fresh upholstery can give antiques a modern feel without sacrificing their vintage charm. Remember your reasons for choosing vintage pieces in the first place and then decide how much you really want to change them – or not. Sometimes those worn-out armrests and scratches help tell a story, so be careful not to dilute that too much. If you want to retain the original character, consider stripping and sanding the old stain, then reviving it with a fresh coat of the same.
TIP: Consider the shape of the piece and decide whether to play it up or go against it!
There are many professionals who specialize in refinishing furniture, and I always recommend using their services when dealing with something of particular value, whether monetary or emotional. On the other hand, if you feel confident in your own abilities and have some time on your hands, go ahead and give it a DIY try!
If you’re drawn to an antiques like myself but its purpose doesn’t make sense in your space, give it a new one. Think outside the box and beyond its intended function. Each item has an artistic value, and given the right setting, an antique tool, old camera or some well-read books can become beautiful accessories on display.
As a designer, I love the character and personality that comes from combining storied pieces from clients with something modern and new. If I can make those stories part of my design, only then does it become truly authentic, and each home unique.