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Publication Date: 2014-06-16

Design Insights

The Fresh Look of Fine Antiques

One question that I am asked time and again is, "How can you make antiques appealing to a younger generation?" My answer is always the same. You need to show people that antiques can look not only good, but great, when paired with modern furniture and accessories.

A fairly good example of how to mix antiques with contemporary furniture can be seen here in this c. 1974 Manhattan apartment, which was decorated by Michael de Santis. The apartment was built in the Tudor style, which explains the living room's ceiling beams. In an effort to neutralize the rather dark, heavy Tudor details, de Santis painted the living room's walls and ceiling (including those beams) in a shade of creamy white. This neutral, seamless backdrop allowed the room's furnishings, not its architecture, to take center stage.

The living room's color scheme was bisque and blue, a color combination which de Santis felt would show the home's antiques, especially the antique Chinese rugs and porcelain, to their best advantage. Regency furniture – one of the most versatile styles of antiques – was partnered successfully with contemporary tables and lighting, while most of the upholstered seating was covered in neutral fabrics, which didn't draw attention away from the antiques. Mirrors added sparkle, geometric rugs introduced graphic impact and antique pictures and contemporary paintings injected soul and personality into the entire apartment. In fact, little about this apartment is dated, other than a few furnishings as well as the quality of these photos.

To hear the way many of us talk today about mixing antique and modern furnishings, one might think that this is a novel idea. But in reality, it's a classic concept, a tried and true way of reconciling the old with the new.


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