Design dilemma – successfully incorporating vintage furniture in contemporary homes.
Of all the questions and problems we come across, this is one of the most frequent; “I would like to use my vintage furniture together with my modern pieces. I know it can work, I am just not sure how…”
We all have them, our cherished pieces, inherited and sentimental furniture and if we are lucky a few genuine antiques. We love them, want to keep them, but are worried how to make them work in our modern living spaces.
Here we suggest how to use and accessorise those treasured items so that they become a tasteful accompaniment to the rest of your room, providing warmth and soul with a sense of universal style.
1. Antique Furniture
True antiques should be celebrated. These beautiful pieces, exuding traditional elegance, will never look wrong in a contemporary setting.
With their classic proportions, beautiful patina, the quality of materials and craftsmanship will not go unnoticed.
Enhance the attributes of your piece by positioning it against either one of the pale or dramatic wall colours that are available today.
Place an antique in a prominent position where their inherent good looks, charm and character can be appreciated.
2. Inherited Pieces
Often referred to as ‘brown furniture’ these items have immense sentimental value but do not always sit comfortably alongside the rest of your furniture because of the colour of the wood or the styling, such as the legs and handles.
A great option, and an easy one, is to paint the vintage furniture in contemporary homes in a complementary colour to the rest of your scheme. This can enhance certain aspects and connect the piece to the rest of the room.
Try changing the handles to something more modern or choosing handles that are a feature in themselves.
Frequently well made, these well loved pieces deserve a second chance at life. They can quickly become useful and pleasing additions as they blend into our up-to-date colour schemes.
Prevent any older, heritage furniture from looking dated by using modern styling pieces on and around it.
Accessorise with a variety of present-day artwork, ornaments, mirrors or soft furnishings.
Carefully arranging these items to sit on, above or adjacent to the item will create a twenty-first century setting.
Utilising a variety of current, stylish decorations will ensure the furniture maintains a fresh and up-to-date appearance.
4. Upholstered Furniture
Update tired and traditional looking chairs and sofas with fashionable fabrics. Reupholstering furniture is a great way to modernise pieces so that they are compatible with the rest of the room.
Using neutral colours will allow the period of the piece to be recognised, enhancing its features, rather than obscuring them. Brighter colours for cushion fabrics will co-ordinate the furniture with the rest of the room.
Give a modern twist to traditional furniture with bold, contemporary fabrics, providing a fashionable facelift to the piece.
Julia’s Top Tips
The correct weight and durability of fabric are of prime importance when choosing fabric for upholstery
The seat and back are subject to the most wear as they come into regular contact with friction and movement. Therefore, the chosen fabric must be of an appropriate standard and rating to achieve the longevity required
All fabrics have recommended applications, with a Martindale rating to signify its durability and ability to resist wear. Fabrics chosen for reupholstering domestic furniture should be rated as 20,000 rubs or above
More delicate fabrics should only be used as a contrast on the rear of the piece. This works especially well, enabling the item to be viewed from several different angles in the room
Looking for some help to integrate your older pieces into a new scheme? Get in touch with us to find out how we will design your new room around them. Email: or call 01242 806 131.