Seven essential tips for mixing modern and antique furniture

Looking to lend a visually intriguing sense of balance to your home interior? Try blending contemporary designs with antique pieces. This approach adds a unique contrast to any room, with varying textures, shapes and styles. Here are a few tips for mixing modern and antique furniture with carefully curated panache.

Hondarribia-Irun - Learn how to mix antique and modern furniture for a polished interior spac

1. Harness the power of repetition

Even if you gravitate toward the eclectic, juxtaposing too many disparate style elements will create a confusing rather than cohesive look. Bring your different furnishings together with a common colour scheme, repeated pattern or similar material. Ideally, antique and modern pieces should be united by at least one mutual attribute.

2. Add touchable dimension with textiles

Lend a sense of timeless warmth to your living room with vintage textiles. Animal-printed carpet runners, shag-pile area rugs or hand-knotted Persian carpeting add a pop of colour and plenty of eye-catching contrast. Choose grounded, earth-toned fabrics to temper brightly upholstered furniture.

3. Use oversized antiques in smaller spaces

An oversized English oak writing desk or plush mid-century saucer-shaped sofa can make a diminutive living room seem much larger. Play with antique proportions to bring a sense of grandeur into a small contemporary space. Start with a stately vintage focal point like a stripped-down dining table, and complement it with modern accent pieces.

4. Insert a subtle nod to the past

A good starting point for determining how to mix vintage and modern furniture is to focus on an area that’s otherwise fully contemporary. A sleek, minimalist kitchen gains personality and storage all at once with the addition of an antique cabinet. It won’t take away from the modernity of the overall interior scheme, instead creating harmonious balance. Use our antique restoration tips to bring an initially shabby-chic piece in line with the surrounding style.

5. Use the 80/20 rule of decorating

When mixing modern and antique furniture, the 80/20 rule is a simple yet effective dictate. Unless you’re a keen antiques collector, in most cases the majority will be contemporary. The remaining 20 percent of vintage accents need not be large pieces of furniture; it could include smaller details such as leather-bound diaries, framed vintage maps or a striking grandfather clock.

6. Play with lighting and reflection

Lighting fixtures are one of the simplest ways to combine old with new. If you’re unsure about how to mix vintage and modern furniture, consider focusing instead on the dazzling possibilities presented by salvaged pendant lighting or an ornate Art Nouveau Tiffany glass chandelier in an otherwise contemporary space. Similarly, a 17th-century French gilt mirror adds instant character and beautifully reflects the light.

7. Don’t shy away from unexpected colour combinations

Mixing modern and antique furniture styles is all about contrasts, so don’t be afraid to be bold with your colour palette. While it’s still best to stick to a defined colour scheme in your décor, you can choose two vibrant shades that vie for dominance, like a jungle green and slate blue. Alternately, opt for a single dominant hue to riff on with multiple tones.

Ultimately, you can avoid any potential clashes when mixing modern and antique furniture by focusing on balance and carefully building up a collection that suits your personal style. This way, you’ll create a cohesive look that evolves over time.

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