Old Meets New: Matching Antique with Modern Furnishings

By Tim Lowry, creative at Authentic Furniture  gives his thoughts on how to mix beloved antique pieces with quality modern furniture.

The last decade saw people embracing fleeting fashions and buying throw away pieces that needed to be replaced after a few years, however shoppers are becoming wise to this false economy. With the ‘buy cheap, buy twice’ mentality firmly embedded, a great furniture renascence is underway, with more and more people looking to invest in something of true quality, which encapsulates timeless style and is built to last. British craftsmen are right up there with some of the best in the world; traditional furniture making skills such as crafting screwed, glued and dowelled sofa frames and using proper mortice and tenon joints now emphasise the skills of these great craftsmen. For this reason, buying antique furniture is a great option for dressing your home with quality furniture and, if you know where to look, there are some fantastic bargains to be had.

A trip down memory lane

This recognition of quality has also radically changed trends of design, where the demand for recreating classic designs that won’t date is becoming increasingly popular. Memories of Granddad’s super-comfy old Chesterfield Sofa have provoked people to take a nostalgic look to the past in order to rediscover that not everything improves with the advancement of technology. Classic pieces like this are set for a major come back, with Chesterfield Sofa designs being updated with beautiful soft Italian leathers, along with stunning lambswool- which is still milled in Britain – and luxurious velvets.

Recent trends have seen homes mixing new classic pieces like this, with quality antiques and vintage memorabilia. The Derbyshire market town of Matlock, near to our Authentic Furniture showroom, is a prime example of this growing trend. The first curio shop opened there a few years ago, now there are around eight individual shops. Mixing brand new, high quality heritage pieces that won’t date with fashion pieces means people can update the look quickly and inexpensively, whilst keeping that luxury feel. But how do you create a considered blend of old meets new? By following our simple advice, you can create a harmonised space, giving your home a timeless and individual charm.

One man’s trash in another man’s treasure

Whilst rummaging through skips may be a little extreme for beginners, there are some less conspicuous ways of foraging for antique furnishings and accessories. For most, the thrill is in the hunt and many a Sunday has been spent with my family idly perusing antique fairs and vintage markets. Portobello Road market is the world’s largest antiques market with over 1,000 dealers selling every kind of antique and collectibles, so whether you’re down the road or a train journey away, it’s well worth a visit. Antique home and interior auctions are also a great way to pick up vintage pieces, whether you’re looking for inexpensive or high end items. However, don’t get carried away by the buzz of the auction room. Set yourself a maximum price, and stick to it.

Online auction sites, like Ebay, are also a great way to browse a plethora of potential furnishing for your home, and pick up a bargain in the process. You can pick up some quirky items at local antique stores, which offer an eclectic selection of homeware. It may take a little time and effort to find what you’re looking for, but there’s something immensely satisfying about spotting a gem in a jumble of bric-a-brac. Websites such as freecycle.org.uk offer peoples unwanted items for free. Not only can you pick up a real bargain (doesn’t get much cheaper than free!), but you will also help their efforts to keep usable items out of landfills. Car boot sales and charity shops may also contain some hidden treasures. Don’t forget to keep an open mind, with a little imagination and creativity you can transform tired looking pieces into characterful one-off adornments. SOFApic2 “Only have things that are beautiful or useful”

I don’t like to put too many rules on creating an eclectic, individual space for your home. Your choices should be driven by your heart, and by choosing furnishings and accessories that you love, you will notice a natural symmetry driven by your taste, as well as an appreciation for every element of your décor. Creativity and a little imagination can transform the most unlikely of items into a beautiful new addition for your home. For example, a rusty old bucket can be polished into a unique and attractive peg basket or plant container. Sticking to a single style or period may seem the easiest option, but the most inspiring rooms combine old and new pieces in a variety of styles and era’s to give them a sense of having been painstakingly collected over time. If you want to create a more harmonised feel, consider your room’s architecture. If you live in a Victorian house, you can incorporate some period adornments to fit around your modern staple pieces to bring the rooms into the 21st century. If you live in a modern apartment, perhaps you could add small period pieces like an antique mirror or chandelier to give the space personality and dimension.

The Pitfalls

You’re only hampered by your own limitations. Be open minded when looking for your antique pieces and be prepared to accept the charms of imperfection. Authentic Furniture uses characterful British reclaimed timber because we love and appreciate its uniqueness. One piece of furniture is never the same the next. You will also need to look out for a few common evils often discovered in vintage pieces, such as woodworm and rot, two things you definitely want avoid bringing into your home. You also need to be mindful if considering any old upholstered furnishings. Old fabrics and foams will also certainly not meet current fire regulations, and who knows what horrors lurk beneath the covered wood. If you have fallen in love with an upholstered piece, it would be a good idea to invest in a professional service to re-cover it in your choice of fabric.

And if nothing else, remember…

Whether you’re furnishing a modern or period space, when it comes to creating your own eclectic mix of old meets new, follow your heart, always choose quality crafted furniture and take pleasure in searching for those unique pieces that will give an individual and homely feel to your space.

For more information visit www.authenticfurniture.co.uk

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