There is little that is contemporary in the above photo except a quartz crystal candle holder and the bamboo mat, yet I find the photo, (taken spur of the moment last month,) fresh, and not at all dowdy. The chair on the left, is from the early 1820s and the canape' the dog is lying on..from the 1700s. It is easy for furniture this age to look tired and as a result the beauty of the craftsmanship often becomes lost. Furniture of this sort is in my opinion, art, but it was never created to be in a museum, it was meant to be lived with. Surrounding oneself with beauty is an important part of life.
So, to keep my tiny space from looking like a museum, I added a small mid century Moroccan table with a brass base that echoes the shape of the Louis XVI legs on the furniture, the texture of the base also echoes the carving on the furniture while the marble top gives more texture and a depth of light due to it's luminous quality. In addition, the marble top is round, which harmonizes with the curves of the furniture. Marble was often used with Louis XVI furniture originally and I consider marble to be a timeless element.
On top of the table, the mid century cherub candelabra whose gilding time has worn away in various places, reveals the same brass as the table base and the crystals bring refracted light. The quartz crystal candle holder and the cut glass vase also refract the light and add texture. Lastly, and equally important...contemporary books with fresh flowers always bring things into the moment.
Nearby, a 21st century Philippe Stark accent chair, made in Italy by Kartel and inspired by Louis XVI originals sits against a wall, draped in a stunning vintage kidskin dyed ruby red. It holds contemporary books and a 19th century dog pattern pillow.
This may all sound too academic but the concept is simple, just think.. shape, texture, scale and light. And remember when adding contrasting shapes and textures to think, 'same but different'. You want some sort of unifying element, be it color, shape, pattern, or texture.
Modern art is also an easy way to keep your antiques from looking 'old'. The rule works whether you have a pale color palette or a multi hued one.This photo from designer Karina Gentinetta is a perfect example.
Are you seeing how easy it is to keep your antiques and vintage furniture from looking like something from grandma's house?
Putting a little thought into the mix can really bring out the beauty of your antiques as they are seen in a whole new context.