These two looks are being
married together
in this new and upcoming trend
in home decorating.

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.

For more information on dating antiques check out this website

For a very in depth guide to dating antique furniture take a look at this web site


Traditional methods of applying glazes involve dry brushing on glaze, and wiping it leaving a haze of glaze on the finished piece with heavier glaze in the recesses adding accenting- although still used, today’s popular trend is pin-point glazing or the newest term called inking.

What is Inking ?
Glaze “inking” or pin-point glazing is a very clean glaze look applied to the recesses and profiles of doors, trim and moldings. Inking is different than traditional wipe on glazing because it leaves absolutely no trace of the glaze on the top flat surface. It results in a clean contrast between the cabinets and the glazed areas and is becoming a very popular look on cabinets and furniture. On white or cream cabinets, as in the photo, we use a Van Dyke (dark) brown glaze to create this clean line contrast.

pin-point glazing is difficult, labor intensive and time consuming to achieve, especially when a dark glaze is used on a on light color. Thus there is a cost increase on cabinets finished this way, but the results are well worth the extra cost. Not only is the process difficult but the glazing steps need to be performed after staining or painting and after the seal coat. Then an additional final clear seal coat is used to seal in the glaze, increasing the number of seal coat layers as well.


“Bringing updated color into your decor is all about adding that unexpected ‘aha’ with an accent wall or cushions, rugs or piece of furniture,” says Leatrice Eiseman, director and color forecaster of the Pantone Color Institute, an industry leader in color trends. Inject new life into your living room — and your life.

The hot new style trend is ‘Vintage Hollywood Glamour’. Hollywood in the 40’s was decedent, with lots of gold, crystal and metallic lacquers. Now, we’re adding more contemporary elements, a little glamour goes a long way: a crystal chandelier over the dining room table or an ornate gilded mirror over the fireplace mantel can transform a room. The colors are muted and more restrained; for example, baby blue is out and gray-blue is in. Gray is big, in its thousands of variations, from soft gray to charcoal, to hematite.

Neutrals are now being used for the big-ticket items, from rich gray to camel, We’re using trendier colors, like acid green or amethyst, as accent pieces. As well as metallic and pearlescent accents.

Bold accent in black-and-white designs are also popular and being pared with hot accent colors like red and acid green. Look for pink in romantic bedrooms, the living room or even in the kitchen, from cabinetry to appliances.


One of the leading 19th century furniture makers, Duncan Phyfe was born in 1768. Duncan’s original spelling was Duncan Fife; he changed his spelling after he moved to New York City on 1792, before which he was a cabinetmaker’s apprentice in Albany at age 16. A Scottish born American designer, Phyfe’s primary design structure revolved around neoclassical design.
Phyfe produced classic individual pieces for furniture with a unique over all structure. Duncan has to his credit various styles of furniture, some of which are the double pedestal banquet tables, reeded leg sofas, window benches, central pedestal drop leaf breakfast tables, and lyre back chairs. Among motifs those credited to his name include the acanthus leave, drapery swags, diagonal cross bars, eagle wings, urn turned posts, water leaf, palm leaf, lion’s foot, dog’s foot, thunderbolts, trumpets, and rosettes. Off all the style he’s well known for, his most preferred choice of style was the lyre. Since 1922, after New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art held an exhibition of his work, the demand for Duncan Phyfe furniture has been on a constant rise. Experts categorize his style as a neoclassical basic that soon blended with French designing, being loyal to English Sheraton Style pattern and yet clearly dictating an Imperial style.


In the last half of the 19th Century, a reform movement spread through the United States. It changed the way many people thought about style and health in the home. People had filled their homes with large pieces of carved furniture, thick upholstery, and heavy draperies that collected dust and germs and kept out healthful air and light. The new simpler style began with an idea by a man who was an architect and arts writer, not a furniture maker. Charles Eastlake, an Englishman, wrote the book Hints on Household Taste in Furniture, Upholstery, and Other Details.

He thought the objects in people’s homes should be attractive and well made by workers who took pride in their handwork or machine work. As the book became popular in the United States, furniture manufacturers took ideas and designs from the book and made what was named Eastlake Style furniture.Charles Locke Eastlake was the English architect and writer who suggested a home style that was cohesive whereby only a single influence dominated the furnishings of a home.

In 1872, Eastlake published his book in the United States, where it was the beginning of the American Arts & Crafts Movement. The use of rugged woods like oak and walnut and the elimination of applied decorations were characteristic of Eastlake furniture. Eastlake furniture used handcrafted joinery and he used oils rather than stains to disguise inexpensive woods as other manufacturers did. Pieces of furniture in this style had low relief carvings, incised lines, moldings, geometric ornaments, and flat surfaces that were easy to keep clean. Eastlake encouraged “honesty” in construction and finishing. Eastlake Style furniture is frequently seen in antique shops all over the United States, but especially in the east and midwest. It was manufactured by factories in the east that had branch offices in midwest cities.


Here is why you get blotchy staining on maple.

When the maple tree is growing it comes under stresses (wind, fighting for sunlight, growing on a hillside, etc.). It reacts to this stress by forming a special type of wood, called tension wood (hardwoods) and compression wood (softwoods). Both are called reaction wood; makes sense, as the tree is reacting to an outside force.

The tension wood cells will typically be more cellulose (cotton is 100% cellulose for example) and much less lignin (the stiffener and glue that holds the cells together). As a result, the tension wood cells are very weak (they like to fuzz rather than get cut off cleanly) and are very absorptive of liquids. This would not be too bad if the entire wood surface were all tension wood, but in fact, tension wood is scattered here and there. So, when staining tension wood and normal wood, we get two different absorbencies and a blotchy appearance.

My Solutions for tension wood… For staining and finishing, I use a propriety product to saturate these tension wood cells so stain will flow evenly across all the woods cells. I then seal the surface to stiffen the surface fibers so they can be sanded down rather than be pushed over forming more blotches.


In the Tariff act of 1930, the U.S. Customs defined an antique as an object that was made before 1830 when mass production became commonplace. This act determined if a piece was duty free. In 1966, the standard of 100 years old was adopted as the defining characteristic to determine if an object was an antique and its import would be duty free. Prior to this act, importers would claim all sorts of items as antiques to avoid the tax.

In 1993 the Customs Modernization Act, Tile VI of the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act, added to the definition and defined an antique (for purposes of import taxation) as a piece less than 50% restored or refinished so long as the “essential character” of the piece remains unchanged.


The Antiques Road show Weighs In

Peter B. Cook,
Executive producer
The Antiques Road show
& Bob Flexner
Editor Finishing & Restoration Magazine
Discuss the topic.

In our trade magazine “Finishing & Restoration” (formerly Professional Refinishing), the wisdom of restoring/refinishing antique and older furniture was discussed/debated at some length. Some opinions mirrored the public’s general perception that restoration and refinishing are to be avoided. The misperception was fueled largely by a general misunderstanding that resulted from various airings of the television show “Antiques Roadshow” on PBS. It got to the point where many people believed it was unwise to restore/refinish almost any piece of furniture!

The editor of the magazine, Bob Flexner, contacted the shows’ producers and explained the impact the misunderstanding was having on the public’s perception concerning restoring/refinishing older and antique furniture. Peter B. Cook, executive producer of the television program, wrote a response that was published in the June 2002 issue of the magazine. Here are some excerpts from the article.

“A while ago, we at Antiques Roadshow received a letter from Professional Refinishing editor Bob Flexner, pointing out that our apparent obsession (my word, not his) with ‘original finish’ has had the effect of misleading the public about what repairing and refinishing actually do to the value of furniture – most furniture, that is.

We’re now in our sixth season of Antiques Roadshow on PBS… This means, of course, that there’s a real premium on the accuracy, dependability and usefulness of the information we provide. … I’d hate to think that we’ve created a subset of American furniture owners living in dread of a fatal financial misstep (though Antiques Roadshow is, after all, a show about value, including market value). … Still, if I’m reading things correctly, it sounds as if Roadshow furniture experts are saying, by and large, ‘leaving things alone is good, refinishing is bad.’

Understandably, our Americana experts on the Roadshow live for wonderful old pieces of furniture that have somehow survived in terrific condition – pieces not used too hard, left out in strong light for long periods of time or forced to survive a flooded cellar. Most old furniture, of course, doesn’t come close to meeting those standards. On the contrary, most furniture has been well used (even abused), scratched, broken, and often repaired many times. How could such furniture not be improved by a good job of refinishing or restoring? … A secretary, made by Christian Shively in about 1820, was brought to the Indianapolis tapings this year. It had been stripped and refinished by the owner to remove paint that had been applied many decades earlier. Appraiser John Hays endorsed the need for refinishing and complimented the quality of the work.

… So where does that leave us? Let the record show that Antiques Roadshow generally agrees with this notion: Well-conceived and well-executed refinishing and restoration usually enhances the value of just about any piece of old furniture. Exceptions are those rare (often museum-quality) pieces that have somehow survived in great ‘original’ condition. If we say or imply to the contrary, we should be called on it.”

Peter B. Cook,
Executive producer
The Antiques Road show

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