Archive for the ‘Design Tips for Working With Antiques’ Category

Celebrate The Holidays With Antiques

Saturday, December 19th, 2009

Holiday memories are made special because of family traditions. Who doesn’t have many stories to tell of past holidays, as with all families, some good warm fuzzy stories as well as the disaster ones, now humorous with time. From childhood thru adulthood, certain family heirlooms or special objects can trigger a flood of memories. Passing down vintage and antique items as well as the stories attached to them help make “home for the holidays” the best place to be. Even if you are across the country from where your first memories of christmas began, you can still have that special feeling. Old fashioned Christmas ornaments to decorate your tree, a display of vintage toys, a well worn copy of “The Night Before Christmas”, Grandma’s special Christmas tablecloth, Mom’s old silver tray that every year was filled with an assortment of everyone’s favorite cookies, to Dad’s funny old Santa hat, all bring back the warm memories of Christmas past. The few treasures that have been passed on down thru the generations when retrieved from the attic and the holiday preparations begun, bring all of us back to the years of our favorite memories.
Borrowing from the past and building upon new creative ideas we have discovered, we keep the memories alive and create new traditions of our own for the newest generation to look back on with fondness in the next decades to come. Every year I puruse my favorite magazines looking for inspiration to pick a theme for this year’s decorations. I never copy what I see because I want to use things from my own special collections but looking at new fresh ideas gets my creative juices flowing and all of a sudden an idea takes hold and I am off and running. Christmas trees can be decorated with all sorts of items, from a seashore theme using shells and starfishes, to an elegant victorian tree dressed with small lace doilies, velvet ribbon garland and beautiful ornaments, to a teaparty theme, orphan pretty china cups tied on with ribbons and ornate silver spoons tied on with velvet ribbons, a country theme with dried flower and herb bunches with old fashioned metal cookie cutters, the themes are endless, all ideas from one simple thought or item. This is the time of year to take out your collections and decorate with them. Work with a theme and stick to it so that the decorations flow from one room to the next, and not done with a overabundance of different colors and different unrelated objects which leads to clutter. If you decide on a Country Christmas, use things from nature, branches, pine cones, plaid ribbons, gingerbread men, baskets, and wooden toys. An old wooden sled, decorated with a simple red velvet bow makes a stunning decoration. Fill all sorts of old looking containers with pine branches, a pewter pitcher, a clay jug, a big basket, a small wooden barrel, add one of these pine branch arrangements to each room for the wonderful color of green and the Christmas pine scent. Add twigs and pinecones, a Christmas ribbon bow to the larger arrangements. Fill an unused fireplace with a large arrangement. A small porcelain pitcher filled with greens on the bathroom vanity. A bouquet of red roses with greens in a large crystal vase can be a focal arrangement in any room for color and fragrance.
Old toys arranged around the tree can bring back memories of Christmases past. A collection of dolls, a red Flyer wagon, old board games in colorful graphic boxes, vintage ice skates, anything that you enjoyed as a child, your favorite toy that Santa brought you, all these vintage items can be used in your decorating themes. I once did a small tree in the diningroom with all silver babyspoons and baby forks tied onto a Christmas tree with thin red satin ribbon bows. The little baby silverware was silverplate, a little worn and bought for a song in an auction box lot but after polishing and adding ribbons it sparkled under the christmas white lights with a special elegance. Of course my very own babyspoon had the place of honor on the tree.
So as your unpack the boxes of well used and loved ornaments, take the time to share the stories connected with the special ones and leave room for a few new additions with new traditions and stories for the next generation to handle fondly and remember.

A Thank You To All My Readers

Monday, May 4th, 2009
Carole Romano

Carole Romano

I just wanted to thank all my readers and hope you are enjoying reading these tidbits of decorating ideas. I enjoy sharing them and hope you find some useful information and go out an rescue some interesting antique pieces yourself. No time for do-it-yourself, then check out my website or stop in my shops and say hello. I will match you up with a perfect treasure to adopt for your home.
Looking to learn more about a topic I haven’t covered, drop me a line and I will consider adding it to the blog.

Decorating With Antiques

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

Antiques add warmth and beauty

Antiques add warmth and beauty

Design Tips or Points to Ponder
Unless you want to live in a museum-like setting, use antique furniture pieces sparingly in your decor. Use them as accents and focal points. Whether it is a cherished family heirloom or a recent acquisition, showcase it, give it the attention and space it deserves. Antiques can personalize a room, give it personality, design interest and style. Gone are the days when you went to a furniture store and purchased a complete set of furniture with all the matching pieces, sure it was easy to decorate this way but it shows no creative indivuality, I call this style of decorating the “Holiday Inn Style” with everything all matched and the same. This type of decorating doesn’t show your sense of style but someone else’s, whether it is the furniture manufacturer, the furniture showroom display person, it is everyone else’s but yours. The ecletic style of decorating is what makes your home unique and by using special antique pieces you can create a look that is yours alone.
The value of antiques is that they have lasted down through the years or centuries. They give us a glimpse of the past through their style, purpose and construction. For design purposes, this is a very important point to ponder. If a particular piece has lasted intact for a considerable length of time, decades or centuries, without being changed or compromised, perhaps still in the original finish, made out of quality woods and in very good condition, it would be a crime to change it for just a decorating purpose. Out of respect for the quality of craftmanship and the beauty of an aged patina, for the antique value, these pieces should be selected and use in their original state. A few worn spots, or blemishes just add to the beauty. If you feel more comfortable with perfect examples, then perhaps an antique piece with a story and character is not for you. Then I would suggest purchasing one of the fine reproductions available. Refinishing of these usually high-end original pieces should not be done or only under the care of an expert. Original finishes whether perfect or worn are meant to be treasured as is, to refinish is to devalue the piece.
Many of the projects that will be discussed on this blog will be for antiques that have been already compromised, changed, refinished or in a definite need of a rescue, redesign, refurbish, or refinishing to give it another chance at living a beautiful life. In all cases we strive to retain orginal finishes where it can be done. Many of our “re-dos” are done in a way that they still have the patina and graceful aged beauty. That’s why we love antiques for the worn, rubbed, chippy blemishes they have earned from years of love and use. I never advocate sanding down layers to try to create an ultra smooth finsh, removing all the character of the piece, it makes no sense, you would be better off just buying a new piece without all the work.
Decorating with an antiques is a process that should evolve over time. It’s not like going to the store and buying the “Holiday Inn Suite”. It involves falling in love. Many times 1 antique piece can be the muse or the beginning of the design process for an entire room. This piece catches your eye and opens the dam and lets your creative juices flow. The room can sometimes be build with ideas all around that special piece. But antiques are very adaptable, they had to be to survive all these years, just adopting a new piece and placing it in the room as an accent piece, can give the room a whole new look. It truly reflects your creativity in how you use it. The only design rules are taking into consideration, it’s size and scale in relationship to the room and color or depth of color. It should compliment but still be an accent, drawing the eye to it, it should be a little excitement to hold the eye or interest, but pleasing not jaring. Out of portion items, too large for the room, as well as too small, too dark or too light or too bold a pattern for a small area can be unsettling. The old guides still apply, such as using an oversized print or plaid in a small room, it is overpowering and unsettling. The same is true for adding a piece that is too small in scale for a large room, it gets lost and is not the accent you were looking for. A word about collections, they make a statement and have much more interest and make an impact when they are grouped together, one here and there sprinkled about the room just makes up clutter, and they don’t stand out. Think of a fireplace mantle, 1 pair of silver candlesticks, evenly balenced on either side of the center of the mantle, boring, not interesting in the least. Picture the same mantle with a collection of 3 or 5 different silver candlesticks, varying size or shade, arranged on one side in a group, that’s a collection and balenced on the other side of the mantle by a single object that is related by some common theme and takes up the same amount of space or mass as the group of candlesticks on the other side that makes an interesting statement. Rule of thumb here: there should be some unifying characteristic that that is similar between all the pieces such as they are all silver to make a visual statement that they are related. Collections arranged in mass will really pack a visual punch and create interest. In all areas of decorating and even gardening working with “odd” numbers arranged together has the “wo” factor. So think 3, 5, 7, instead of ones or pairs.
Color is another very important element. Color is very personal and selection depends on what you want it to do, be an accent or softly blend in. The only tip I am going to sugest is to try the color out. Bring a sample of it home, pin it up on the wall or place it in the area where the object wearing the color will reside. Look at it during various times of the day with the changing light from the sun or other sources. See if it still is pleasing during daylight as well as evening, see if the color stays true or does it fade out or look muddy. Live it for a few days before you make your decision.
Antiques are something that you fall in love with, the memories it might hold coming from a family member or a piece that has caught your eye and you battled fiercely for at auction. Don’t let it get away and live with the regret you wished you had gotten it. You can always, rearrange or eliminate something to add it in. It can be the muse for rearranging a whole room. Some pieces will work just perfectly as is, some may need a little time and thought for inspiration to strike, but follow your heart and you will never be sorry.

Starting next week I will be sharing some of the projects I have done using antiques and give step by step tips and instructions for each. Meanwhile check out our shop website at
So long from Carole “the crafty chic”