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Estate Antiques in A Modern Home

A Fresh Approach to Decorating with Antiques

The idea of pairing modern interior design with antiques and estate pieces is alluring, but not always straightforward.  Pieces that have been in the family for generations often have both sentimental and inherent value, and unquestionably merit a place in the home.   Or perhaps you simply have a deep appreciation for pieces that carry the weight of history or showcase exceptional craftsmanship that’s stood the test of time.  The desire to preserve and incorporate these treasures may be rooted in a deep connection to family history, or a wish to honour the past.   

Incorporating estate antiques into a modern living space allows the design of your home to be about more than aesthetics. It’s a tribute to family traditions, a celebration of history, and a bridge between generations. By creating a space that honours the past and celebrates the future, you can achieve a design that is not only beautiful, but deeply meaningful.

Balancing Past and Present

But what to do when these beloved pieces are more traditional in appearance, when you’re a modern homeowner who wants a more contemporary living space?  Antiques and estate treasures tell a story, not just of their origin but of the generations that cherished them.  Their appearance often reflects that. However, modern sensibilities often lean towards sleek lines, minimalism, and an altogether different design language. The challenge lies in harmonising past and present, blending the charm of antiques with the freshness of contemporary design.

The best design solutions are always balanced, and this puzzle is no exception.   With an artful eye it’s possible to beautifully blend heritage charm with sleek modern lines and materials, for a result that’s fresh and unique, nuanced and richly layered.  

In fact, the most beautiful and memorable spaces are those that incorporate the best of the past and present – perhaps blending an assortment of time periods and design styles into a striking, cohesive whole.  The ideal result is a space that feels curated, collected and evolved over time, a true reflection of the client’s style and personality.

Dining table and chairs in open plan living and dining space. On one side of the dining table a banquette seating is placed. An antique armchair sits in the corner of the library area in the principle bedroom.

Showcasing the Modern Design Appeal of Timeless Antiques

The antiques and other estate treasures that will have the most appealing impact in a modern setting are those with qualities that transcend time.   Each estate treasure tells a story, and when thoughtfully placed in a modern setting, these stories enrich your home.  Incorporating antiques into the interior design of your home offers you a chance to curate a living space that is both unique and deeply personal.

The ideal approach is to highlight estate furniture, artwork, and decorative objects that have notable merit in their own right, whether that’s the calibre of workmanship, unique design or a particular quality of materials.  Even if the appeal is simply sentimental value, a clever perspective when displaying the piece can make all the difference.  Highlighting the inherent and exceptional character of a timeless treasure will encourage it to coexist harmoniously with even the sleekest of modern aesthetics.

Neutral toned bedroom in Central London apartment.

Estate antiques can be used to add character and a sense of depth to contemporary spaces. A vintage piece, like a beautifully aged wooden table, can provide a warm contrast to the sleek lines of modern chairs.  Artwork from varied eras and in various media can form a compelling gallery-style display, or create rhythm and interest when strategically placed throughout a home.   And repurposing opens up even further possibilities – for instance, a skilled craftsman can create unique light fixtures and accent furniture from cherished treasures such as vases or trunks.  These pieces can become conversation starters, infusing a home with character and charm.

Cozy living space in Central London apartment.On the two sides of the TV and Fireplace there are bespoke shelves displaying sentimental items lovingly collected by the owner.

Creating A Cohesive Visual Narrative

The key to successful interior design with antiques is the creating a cohesive visual narrative.  Highlighting themes in colour, pattern and texture across eras can unite and harmonise, whilst carefully considered contrasts can add depth, interest and character.  Finding further cohesion from room to room and even with the surrounding environment can add a further sense of intention and context.   The resulting ensemble feels richly layered, balanced and authentic.

Balance can also be found in blending the texture and materials of furnishings amongst varied time periods.  For instance, a sleek contemporary couch can be complemented by antique side chairs upholstered in luxurious, modern fabrics. Texture becomes the tactile element that bridges the gap between different design eras.  Or, an antique Persian rug can become the focal point of a room, providing a rich, intricate pattern that contrasts beautifully with the clean lines of sleek furniture.  This juxtaposition of old and new adds layers of visual interest.

Colour, texture and pattern offer an opportunity for playfulness, as well.   A neutral palette can often work beautifully as a backdrop for antique pieces to shine.  But equally, pairing fresh, bolder colour choices with timeless furniture pieces can surprise and delight when done right.

A luxury living room with a mid-century modern aesthetic, reminiscent of the stylish 80s design. The warm-toned herringbone wooden flooring adds a touch of warmth and sophistication to the space. Two Cassina Utrecht armchairs make a bold statement with one in bright red and the other in orange, creating a vibrant focal point. An abstract coffee table adorned with a book sits at the center. A white detailed fireplace with a gold interior exudes elegance, while a captivating piece of art hangs above it. Built-in cupboards on either side of the fireplace showcase geometric patterning, harmonizing with the gold and wood tones. A Sahara Noir circular dining table rests on a luxurious bespoke circular silk rug, surrounded by six white dining chairs with black legs, offering a stylish setting for entertaining guests. The living room is graced by two floor-length windows, adorned with curtains, which allow natural light to bathe the room, completing this luxurious space.

Curation, Context & Consideration: Making the Most of Interiors Designed with Antiques

An antique with an intriguing history or exceptional craftsmanship can be a striking and meaningful addition to a modern space; timeless antiques can be incredibly versatile as well.  The appeal of this lies in the ability to balance past and present, adding a sense of character and tradition to modern sensibilities. Embracing estate pieces in the interior design of your home provides a tangible link to history – their integration into a contemporary living space allows you to honour the past while celebrating the present and the future.

An antique brass and glass console table sits in front of a entrance wall covered in Arte International wallpaper. The beauty of this luxury table. The close-up image shows a mesmerising combination of green marble, with intricate gold detailing and framed with dark wood. Positioned on the table, two elegant green vases, complemented by a fabric-covered book. Behind this setting, a set of green spotted curtains.

Does the Piece Fit the Room?

In the living room, often the heart of the home, families gather and guests are entertained. Antiques such as a vintage clock or a gilded mirror can infuse this space with character and story.   

Similarly, antique dining furniture, such as a well-preserved antique dining table or a collection of vintage silverware, adds an air of elegance to the dining room. The contrast between the old and the new creates an atmosphere of timeless sophistication.

In the bedroom, antique furniture, such as a vintage vanity or a charming armoire, can serve as focal points. These pieces bring a sense of romanticism and history to a room designed for relaxation.  And a home office can feature a desk or display case that’s been handed down for generations.

By thoughtfully incorporating these treasures, you create a home that’s reassuringly timeless and thoroughly modern – not only a reflection of impeccable taste but also a tribute to an enduring legacy and an appreciation of tradition.

A bold pattern wallpaper from Arte International in a bedroom.

Imagine the Possibilities

Brian Woulfe and his team are experienced at guiding clients through the possibilities and opportunities to incorporate antiques and estate pieces in their contemporary homes.   For examples of how to decorate with antiques while maintaining a fresh, modern aesthetic we invite you to explore the following projects: 

Our Awards & Affiliation

  • Eu property awards 2021 winner
  • EU Property Awards 2020 winner
  • BHA finalist 2020
  • United Kingdom Property Awards SALIC Winner 2018-2019

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