How to Mix Antiques into any Décor by John Cannon

910MI_010I always try to mix antiques into any design project I’m doing because it’s important to infuse the clients’ personality into their décor.  I certainly don’t want the home looking stale.  I usually prefer the classics…Asian, of course, works well with almost anything, but I love Art Deco, any of the Louis periods, some English and Irish and there is always Biedermeier.  Although, you have to be careful of eras that could clash.  For example, I usually do not do Victorian with contemporary, or Grandma’s pieces unless they can be modified to suit the décor.  I also make sure colors and textiles complement each other when I mix them.  If a textile is in good condition we try to keep it, but if it is in bad condition or if it would suit the décor to change it, we will.

I did an Art Deco emerald green velvet sofa with a carved wood frame in leather (which changed it from feminine to masculine) and added a diamond tufted back and stuffed the piece in a synthetic horsehair to improve the comfort.  I then changed the color to work with the new scheme to include the existing fabric color or wood tone to be harmonious with the overall scheme.  All the patterns need to work in the décor.  Work with multiple patterns by keeping the some patterns as either a centerpiece or as a coordinate, letting an antique pattern take the lead or bring in other fabrics and use patterns or textures that work well with the antique fabric.  When you mix woods together, remember that mahogany, cherry and oak are formal, so they’ll go well with one another. Pine, maple, and bamboo are casual choices, which means that they’re compatible with one another but less so with formal woods.

When mixing, you can usually mix casual and formal to alter the overall look, if the client wants, but I try to keep the finish original and work in the wood by varying the combination of woods on the project.  Finally, don’t be led astray by rules (for example, I’ve heard of some designers using the 80:20 rule — 80% of one style and 20% of another for blending).  I never assume such a ratio….I usually defer to what works well for the client, and usually I balance and blend several kinds of antiques, not just one.  This has worked for me for more than four decades as an interior designer, so I’m going to continue to do it!

Below are some of our favorite interiors where we mix antiques, please visit our website for more of our work.

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