Decorating Ideas

Something Old, Something New

Something Old, Something New
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One of the most common questions we hear at One Kings Lane is along the lines of “How can I incorporate vintage pieces into my existing decor?” The good news: There’s no right or wrong way.

Of course, that means there’s no magic formula either. However, the guidelines below will help you create a “something old, something new” space that you’ll love. And should you want to, say, integrate chinoiserie chic into your modern home or bold colors into a neutral space, these tips will come in handy for that too.

Neutral antique (and antique-inspired) furniture ensures that a contemporary red chair by artist Alan Siegel is the star of this space. Photo by Lesley Unruh; room by Mariette Himes Gomez.

Neutral antique (and antique-inspired) furniture ensures that a contemporary red chair by artist Alan Siegel is the star of this space. Photo by Lesley Unruh; room by Mariette Himes Gomez.

Because the gold-framed abstract painting by Ray Kass echoes the colors of the Wedgwood jasperware and the vintage mirrored sconces, it complements rather than contrasts with the older pieces. The rug, with its neutral tones and timeless pattern, bridges old and new perfectly. Photo by Tony Vu; room by Amanda Nisbet.

Because the gold-framed abstract painting by Ray Kass echoes the colors of the Wedgwood jasperware and the vintage mirrored sconces, it complements rather than contrasts with the older pieces. The rug, with its neutral tones and timeless pattern, bridges old and new perfectly. Photo by Tony Vu; room by Amanda Nisbet.

Decorate Around One Special Piece

Afraid that having a lone antique item will stick out among your newer furnishings like Great Dane among a litter of Chihuahuas? Make the most of the contrast (after all, both Great Danes and Chihuahuas are delightful in their own ways). Think of the surrounding contemporary pieces as a frame spotlighting your vintage find. The greater the differences between the new and the old pieces, the more dramatic the vignette.

Of course, not everybody wants their home to be dramatic. For a more subtle take, highlight what the old and the new have in common: a color palette, perhaps, or materials or silhouettes. This will create a harmonious effect, with the differences taking a back seat to the similarities. Which segues to…

Antiques do bring a sense of ancestry, but I think a lot of it has to do with something that says ‘hello’ to you and you fall in love with it... There’s always a place for something.

— Mariette Himes Gomez
The curvaceous acrylic chair could seem like the odd man out among the chinoiserie and the Jacobean table. Its transparency, though, makes it almost unobtrusive while bringing a sense of play to what could have been a somber setting. Photo by Laura Resen; room by Stacie Flinner.

The curvaceous acrylic chair could seem like the odd man out among the chinoiserie and the Jacobean table. Its transparency, though, makes it almost unobtrusive while bringing a sense of play to what could have been a somber setting. Photo by Laura Resen; room by Stacie Flinner.

Ornate gilded wood, a regal frame, a sleek geometric occasional table: The gold theme ties them all together. Photo by Nicole LaMotte; room by Windsor Smith.

Ornate gilded wood, a regal frame, a sleek geometric occasional table: The gold theme ties them all together. Photo by Nicole LaMotte; room by Windsor Smith.

Play Up a Theme

Many of the best collections feature items of various provenances and periods that address one specific theme. A gallery wall might consist solely of depictions of roses, from colorful 19th-century oil paintings to black-and-white 21st-century photographs. A collection of lettuceware could include antiques, vintage favorites, and contemporary reproductions. And that’s good: The magic is the medley.

In fact, segregating your old from your new is pretty much the only mistake one can make. Imagine if that gallery wall of roses placed all the paintings by Renoir and van Gogh on one side and all the photographs by Irving Penn and Robert Mapplethorpe on the other. The display would feel not just awkward but discordant, as if the paintings and the photos were playing for opposing teams.

One Kings Lane co-founder Susan Feldman collects elephants. On her shelves figurines old and new, from all around the world, cavort together in one happy, harmonious herd.

One Kings Lane co-founder Susan Feldman collects elephants. On her shelves figurines old and new, from all around the world, cavort together in one happy, harmonious herd.

Mix and Mingle

When creating a beautifully balanced room of antiques, vintage, and contemporary furnishings, don’t think like a wedding usher (“Guests of the bride to the left, guests of the groom to the right”). Go ahead and place minimalist dining chairs around a rococo centuries-old table in the same room in which your grandmother’s Spode china is interspersed among your novelty salt-and-pepper shakers in a farmhouse-style cabinet.

In the end, your furnishings, whether modern-day or vintage, need to have just one thing in common: You need to love them. So long as they share that, they’re all but certain to play together gorgeously.

 

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The restrained palette helps the Lucite tables, antique Swedish chairs, and French Moderne-style coffee table work well together, but the flashes of black, blue, and gold—as well as the lone brown wood cabinet by the window—celebrate the pieces’ differences as well as their commonalities. Photo by Erica George-Dines; room by Suzanne Kasler.

The restrained palette helps the Lucite tables, antique Swedish chairs, and French Moderne-style coffee table work well together, but the flashes of black, blue, and gold—as well as the lone brown wood cabinet by the window—celebrate the pieces’ differences as well as their commonalities. Photo by Erica George-Dines; room by Suzanne Kasler.

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