Updating the Look of Antiques and Vintage Pieces into a Fresh, New Style



Few things please me more creatively than having design perimeters to include antiques and vintage pieces. Circa 1950 glass cocktail table with a gilt "wheat sheath base; Edwardian rotating bookcase; Curtis Jere' raindrop mirror? Yes, yes, yes.



The fun in this type of project lies in finding the right fabrics and furnishings to create a ‘mix of old and new’. The perfect sofa, chairs and coordinating fabrics pull the eras together into a visually pleasing way. I love the look and feel of this type of project. It’s much harder to achieve than buying all your furniture at one place in time but the benefits are numerous. By blending eras, your design schemes will evolve much better and stay in style longer. You won’t be replacing everything at once, in fact you probably won’t be replacing much at all except changing out the fabrics every fifteen years. It looks better. The appearance is less cookie cutter. The whole environment is more original.



When blending new fabrics and upholstered or slip covered seating with old tables, hutches and wooden chairs think first about the coloration of the wood. Light, ashen wood tones look stunning with black, red, cobalt and taupe fabrics. The yellow tones inherent in pine work well with Kelly green and dark, bluish red. Cherry wood stains work well within many color schemes. What about all gray and all white interiors? They are best with painted furniture. And by the way, as much popularity as they’ve enjoyed in recent years, they will be on their way out of style in another three or four years. I wouldn’t invest in any new design projects in this style as it will look dated. Any style that’s been that popular always looks more dated than other styles.



Placement of your antiques and vintage pieces is key. You want to use them as little focal points and surround them with more modern items such as new lamps, current coffee table books and modern vases filled with current day floral designs. Unless space is confined, I always place the most desirable furnishings to be seen first as you enter the room. I do this in the living room and entry areas especially. Wherever there is something particularly beautiful, I emphasize or call attention to it in some way.


Antiques and artwork have provided a solid design direction in some of the grandest homes in the country. Yes they add history but for me, I love the “look” of mixing old and new elements in my residential projects. I especially love the sentimental aspect of using and reusing things that were special to me... when my son was young and still living at home.



When furnishing a home with antiques, try working in some trendy fabrics and accessories to bring them up to date. Mixing traditional and contemporary pieces is easier if you find a common denominator such as color and fabric styles.



To collect artwork, research, evaluate and buy pieces that attract your eye. Choose each individual work in a way that forms meaningful groupings, also called collecting.



Serious collectors agree, don’t decorate your home around your artwork and don’t collect artwork around your d├ęcor.

The term antique as applied to furniture is defined as being at least 100 years old, while vintage is defined as at least twenty years old.

Don’t be quick to discard your old wood pieces, antique, retro or vintage. Try using them as the catalyst for your next design project.

If you want to learn more about design, wellness and the mindset tools you need to keep you motivated to take excellent care of yourself daily, then download one or all of my five freebies on topics ranging from design; a healthy lifestyle; managing your thoughts; and taking excellent care of yourself with the challenges of chronic pain.


and Creating Self Care Spaces for Women With Arthritis, a chapter from my first book.

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