Did you just move into a modern home? This can present a dilemma if you have some existing antique furniture. Worry not, though; there’s no need to store those vintage furnishings in the attic or public storage. While it may seem a bit counterintuitive, antique items, in fact, do mix well with a contemporary home interior.
Misconceptions About Antiques in a Modern Homestead
Before listing home design best practices, there are some confusion surrounding vintage décor and contemporary-style decorating that should be cleared up. One big misconception is that everything has to match or be an even 50/50. Too many homeowners also believe period furniture or décor are incompatible with modern homes and vice versa. Again, this is also false notion. Rid of your mind any ideas that home design needs to be done in a certain way. Even if these notions are decorating rules, well, aren’t rules made to be broken?
With this in mind, here are a few tidbits of advice for achieving home interior harmony using antique items in a 21st-century home.
Be Mindful of the 80/20 Rule
Who hasn’t heard of the 80/20 rule? It applies across various facets of life and especially in home decorating. In the context of this post, it means you need to choose a primary theme. In this case, it would either be the contemporary element or the antiques used for evoking old-world charm. Whichever you choose as the dominant theme, the other would be the supporting element.
Unless you have multiple pieces of antique furnishings, it’s generally easier to go for 80% with contemporary and 20% with the old-style antiques. This means the bulk of the room would have a modern design with two or so antiques as an accent piece.
If you lack antique furniture, then aim for smaller vintage décor. This especially works well for home offices. Smaller vintage items may include leather-bound items, such as desk blotters, leather document cases, etc.
Leather, by the way, also creates a country-style ambiance. If you wish to create a contemporary/rustic-hybrid room, then incorporate plenty of leather.
Pair Non-Matching Items with Similarities
While you can certainly match non-compatible items together, it’s recommended that you pair items that at least have one attribute in common. You may, for example, pair a vintage wooden work desk with a contemporary chair if they are similar in some way. This may include having a similar hue, being made from the same material, or having similar grain texture. There is a lot of leeway here especially when coming up with a table/chairs combo for the living room or dining room. Instead of purchasing these furnishings as a set, buy them separately or replace one of the items with an antique or contemporary item of a similar attribute.
This is a great way to add an antique item that otherwise may seem out of place in a modern interior setting.
Distribute Items Evenly
Placing all the antiques in a single area can make the whole space feel unbalanced and sectioned off. If you have multiple antiques, place them throughout the room. Let’s say, for example, that you have an antique nightstand in the master bedroom. The other nightstand in the opposite end is a contemporary piece. If you have smaller vintage décor items for the nightstand, place those antiques on the contemporary nightstand. Any modern décor accessories would then go on the antique nightstand. This creates a visually balanced room.
The exception to this distribution rule is if you have a few vintage items that you want in one place as the focal and accent area. This means you want eyes to naturally gravitate towards those items. In this instance, consider using a lot of neutrals throughout the rest of the room to help the antiques stand out amid the uniform backdrop.
Antiques have their place in any type of home or apartment. Antiques are meant to be shown, so don’t be afraid to proudly display them even if conventional wisdom may tell you that they’re out of place in your modern home interior.
Hannah Hutchinson is an interior designer based in London, currently blogging for . She’s always chasing new ideas and likes thinking outside the box when it comes to incorporating fresh ideas to her clients new homes.