March 15, 2021

Timeless Beauty: Designing With Antiques

In: Interior Design


So much has happened since penning our last note! If you’re one of our fellow Texans, we hope this finds you and your loved ones doing well following winter storm Uri. Fortunately, it seems warmer days are here to stay but our thoughts remain with everyone who may be navigating the lasting impact of such an unprecedented weather event.

Antique architectural elements such as the reclaimed 17th century mantel from Chateau Domingue weave charm  and interest into this formal living room.
Photography: Stephen Karlisch | Architecture: Dillon Kyle, DKA

Whether it’s a freeze or a pandemic, we’re all spending more time at home than ever before and that means a lot of people are experimenting with their interior spaces. If you’ve had a chance to flip through Expressive Interiors: Designing an Inviting Home, you know that antiques are an important addition to just about every home we design. In fact, we would love to write an entire book on the benefits of antique pieces one day! For now, we’re sharing our thoughts on how you can incorporate these meaningful elements into your home’s design.

Photography: Ryann Ford

On that note, one of our very favorite times of the year is right around the corner – Round Top Antiques Week! People from all over the country will be making their way to Round Top, Texas to stroll through miles of buildings, tents, and booths filled to the brim with the most remarkable treasures. If you’ve never been, we shared our 10 Tips for Shopping Round Top a few years ago and you should check it out! Hopefully this inspires you to hit the road and do some antiquing!

Blend, Blend, Blend

If your style leans more contemporary, you might consider mixing in vintage lighting or accessories, or balancing your sleek interior with an unexpected simple antique with straight lines. One of the most natural ways to incorporate antiques into your home design is to gradually mix in pieces from different periods over time.

Antique marble columns found in Round Top are repurposed to serve as a base for the console table in this Virginia entry, allowing light to flow into the room freely while antique doors found in Paris provide elegant access to the coat closet.
Photography: Gordon Beall | Architecture: Harrison Design, Atlanta

You could even take it a step further and enlist the help of a designer or architect to install Old World architectural elements in certain areas of your home — reclaimed mantels, period lighting and antique doors and mirrors lend a unique sense of perspective to an interior.

An antique sewing table anchors the wall beneath a scenic Gracie Studio wallcovering displayed as art and the lamps are made from old column. An antique Swedish corner cabinet provides sensibility and an old-world touch.
Photography: Stephen Karlisch
A vintage garden table with antique etchings provide a beautiful sense of balance within this modern Austin highrise.
Photography: Michael Hunter

Celebrate Story

Antiques, particularly those passed down in one’s family, are conversation starters that share a meaningful story in ways that other furnishings and décor simply can’t do. Weave in heirlooms and special family pieces that bring a welcome dose of patina while sharing your unique heritage.

17th century fragments were converted into sconces and displayed over the hand-carved stone mantel found on a buying trip to France. They can also be found decorating the oval iron mirror that hangs beside antique French walnut doors.
Photography: Gordon Beall | Architecture: Harrison Design, Atlanta

If you’re hunting for antiques that haven’t been in your family for generations, be sure to do your research. Don’t be afraid to ask dealers questions – they are a wealth of information.  We find it fascinating to learn how the diverse social and economic events of each historical period influence the furnishings and interiors of the time.

A beautiful set of 19th century Irish Chippendale style chairs are paired with an antique Sheraton table set with vintage silver vases and sugar shakers.
Photography: Gordon Beall | Architecture: Harrison Design, Atlanta

Focus on Art and Accessories

Easing into the world of antiques? We suggest starting with art and accessories. Unlike furniture where scale and dimensions are essential, you can easily experiment with the placement of a framed painting or antique embellishments that can be moved throughout your home until you find a spot that feels just right.

Antique accessories, including books, clocks and other rare finds contribute to the most elegant vignettes.
Photography: Peter Molick

Big or small, there are so many ways to incorporate antique art and accessories into your home and the most important thing to remember is that this should be FUN – take home pieces that bring you joy and play!

Antique French barometer found in the Marché in Paris creates a beautiful focal point.
Photography: Gordon Beall | Architecture: Harrison Design, Atlanta
For a client who had always wanted an antique secretary, this piece is a cherished find. Placing light and bright elements behind the glass helps its darker wood take on a fresh look.
Photography:  Julie Soefer

Embrace Sustainable Design

From finishes and furnishings to fabrics, we strive to make design selections that are as sustainable as possible. Sourcing antiques and reclaimed materials allows you to ‘go green’ in style and we always remind clients that certain pieces in a home can be repurposed.

A vintage industrial mirror from Paris pairs nicely with an antique breadmaker’s table from Brussels while a classic Moroccan rug plays up the color and pattern underneath.
Photography: Stephen Karlisch

Breathe new life into vintage drapery panels by transforming them into pillow covers or using them to re-upholster chair cushions. Apply a fresh coat of paint or lacquer to a vintage table or add new hardware to an old chest and your home will feel unique with one-of-a-kind treasures in no time!

A long reclaimed dining table serves up welcome warmth and texture while creating a functional transition area between the living room and kitchen.
Photography: Stephen Karlisch

There are so many exceptional antiques in the world just waiting to bring timeless beauty to your home. Explore markets when you travel, engage with collectors, and continue educating yourself so the next time you stumble across a truly special piece, you’ll be ready to scoop it right up.

Antique furnishings and an antique architectural element over the fireplace create a cozy retreat with character.
Photography: Michael Baxter

We’re looking forward to our two book signings in Round Top this month – stay tuned for a special note with all of the event details and we hope to see you there!

“Our admiration of the antique is not admiration of the old, but of the natural.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

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