How to use antiques – beginning thoughts

As an interior designer, I have prowled through many an antique shop with curiosity and wonder.  And what I have learned is that the more you know about antiques the more you know you don’t know.  But do not despair.  The learning process is so much fun that you won’t mind at all.  Over the next few days, I will explore how to approach using a few of my favorite antiques.

The history behind all of these objects can be fascinating.  Where has it been, who used it, and how was it used? Is it English?  Late 18th century?  Well, maybe it was used by one of your ancestors before they left for America!  What were the politics of the day?  Is it French late 18th century?  OK – Louis XVI was on the throne.  Was it before or after he was beheaded?  Wow, what a thought.  Knowing the politics and the lifestyle of the time period make it so much more fascinating.

 And an interesting antique will bring a warmth and patina that is truly welcome in any interior of any style.  The best contemporary room can only be enhanced by a sculptural writing desk or a unique tabletop vignette.

How would I approach using antiques in an interior of today.   Suppose I have a client that wants to use a few good antiques but doesn’t know where to start.  Well, that would depend on the style of their interior.   But no matter what the style, you begin with the design process and principles.

  1. Set the stage or background for your antiques with a balanced and comfortable space.
  2. If it is a piece of antique furniture that you are considering, then ask yourself, is it special enough to make it the focus of the room?  If so, place it on a major focus wall or in the sight line as you walk into the room.
  3. Keep in mind that if you feature it, than let it be the star.  Don’t overwhelm the room with to many other items.  You may want to stay in the same style, but don’t let too many items appear in the same sight lines as your featured prize.
  4. At the same time, if it is a traditional interior you will want to use other pieces that reflect the style and details of your special find.  More on this later.
  5. A good place to start would be to make a list of five antiques you would love to have.

 Let’s choose one of my favorites, a French Louis XV bureau-plat.  The beautiful open writing desk will

From Canonbury Antiques

have delicately curved cabriole legs.  There will be ormolu mounts on the “knees” of the legs.  This is bronze metal decorative pieces.  They were actually there for a reason during the 1700s.  The furniture was moved around quite often and this protected the furniture.  It may also have boulle (cut bronze mounted on top of tortoiseshell panels).  I am showing a photo of a fabulous example that I found on the site for Canonbury Antiques in the UK.


My next favorite piece from my wish list later. – perhaps tomorrow.

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