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Nothing conveys a sense of style like mixing vintage furniture finds with contemporary pieces. Mixing eras — feels unexpected, whimsical, chic, and always gets a second look. The mix creates an exciting, and unexpected element to any room. The best thing about mixing up design eras is that it works so well in so many different contexts. Taking a room that is very traditional, and adding modern elements takes the room to whole different level and feels hip and evolved. A sleek modern space with contemporary pieces as well as a very large antique piece that is worn around the edges, feels funky and cool. In the end, mixing old and new is a great way to create interest in a room. But, it’s not always easy to mix things up. So here are a few tips to help you get started:
1.) Unify eras through color. There’s no reason that a Queen Anne chair can’t work with a sleek contemporary couch or a mid-century modern coffee table. The key is to use color throughout a room on different pieces to give the room a unified feel.
2.) Use abstract and contemporary art to offset straight-lace, traditional furniture pieces. A contemporary painting can instantly transport a traditional room into the here and now, as well as provide an entree into adding more contemporary furniture pieces.
3.) Choose one object that will help link the traditional and modern. For example, if you’ve got very traditional furniture, consider an acrylic chair as a way to add a modern touch. The chair’s traditional silhouette is also a good way to bring in a bit of the past into a modern interior. Other objects that can tie together the traditional and contemporary include lamps, chandeliers and sculpture with either modern or neoclassical lines, depending on your furniture mix.
4.) Make the traditional modern by using colors that pop. Combine modern fabrics and patterns with traditional furniture or vice versa. What about an English settee covered in a pink fabric? Or how about a Danish modern chair covered in a bright, contemporary fabric? How about painting a French classical chair in lime green? An unexpected color instantly makes the traditional feel modern.
5.) Go for an eclectic furniture arrangement that is balanced. When your furniture style varies, a symmetrical furniture arrangement will emphasize the differences.
6.) Pay attention to scale. When mixing furniture styles, look for pieces that are more or less the same proportion to one another. Look for styles that have a common design, for example, Shaker furniture has simple clean lines that could also work with mid-century and contemporary pieces.
7.) Don’t overdo it. when it comes to mixing, a few styles is enough; too many different styles in one space can be chaotic.
8.) Bring traditional pieces into a room in unexpected ways. Carved Indian doors as a headboard or a room divider can be a nice way to bring the richness and patina of antique pieces into a modern interior.
Many people wonder if there piece of furniture is an antique. There are several ways you can spot an antique. The first giveaway is the joinery; machine-cut furniture wasn’t made until about 1860. If the piece has drawers, remove a drawer and look closely where the front and back of the drawer are fastened to the sides of the drawer. If a joint was dovetailed by hand, it has only a few dovetails, and they aren’t exactly even; if it has closely spaced, precisely cut dovetails, it was machine-cut. Handmade dovetails almost always indicate a piece made before 1860.
Now, look carefully at the bottom, sides, and back of the drawer; if the wood shows nicks or cuts, it was probably cut with a plane, or a knife. Straight saw marks also indicate an old piece. If the wood shows circular or arc-shaped marks, it was cut by a circular saw, not in use until about 1860.
Exact symmetry is another sign that the piece was machine-made. On handmade furniture, rungs, slats, spindles, rockers, and other small-diameter components are not uniform. Examine these parts carefully; slight differences in size or shape are not always easy to spot. An original piece is not perfectly cut; a reproduction antique with the same components is, because it was cut by machine.
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