Posts Tagged ‘Decorating with Antiques’

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.

Into The Garden With Antiques

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

Accessories for Decorating the Garden

Accessories for Decorating the Garden

Bringing antiques into the garden can really make your landscaping fun, unique and eye catching. I look at my landscaping as an outdoor room, the sky is the ceiling, the trees a canopy, my groundcover or hardscape the flooring and garden borders, stonewalls, fences, hedges define the space as walls. Just like in interior design, carefully chosen and placed accessories add the final “wow” factor. In the years I taught landscape design, at the end of the course I would schedule one of the final classes on creating an outdoor room. This class was the most fun, you can get really creative, break all the rules and do your own unique thing. The work is done, the gardens designed and planted, the patio and deck done, all that is needed is the finishing touches, just as jewelry makes the outfit a real fashion statement, garden accessories add the interest or focal point that grabs the eyes’s attention.
I am going to pass over the common items, the urns, the planters, the normal patio and yard furniture and focus on the redesign of antique items to use in the garden. All kinds of unusual items can be used to hold plants, from old barrels and wooden kegs, galvanized washtubs, wheelbarrows, old pottery, the list is endless. The important thing is to make sure the item will provide drainage, this may entail drilling some holes in the item. Stones can be added to the bottom of the container to help with drainage but I use styrofoam packing peanuts, they are lightweight as well as providing drainage. I am constantly moving my potted containers, taking advantage of the ones that are at peak performance moving them into the spotlight and rearranging so the ones that are past prime or their flowers are inbetween blooms or ones that are needing a little TLC are not center stage. I even place some in the garden where it needs a burst of color if the perennials are not giving me a show at a particular time. Plus using the peanuts saves on the amount of potting soil needed to fill the containers. So if an item can hold enough dirt for a healthy plant it can be a container in the garden.
Old teapots, pitchers, mason jars, watering cans can make interesting vases to hold cut flowers to place on your outdoor tables. Anything that can hold water and withstand the weather can be used. Great way to use a china or glass piece that may have a chip or 2 and not welcome in your diningroom anymore, give it a 2nd chance as an outdoor accessory. Using these former inside pieces makes quite a statement outside.
I have an old galvanized bathtub, it belonged to my grandmother from the turn of the century, it was lightweight would be brought into the kitchen and placed by the old gas and gas heating stove and filled with hotwater heated on the stove and the bath night would begin for the family. I have now placed this tub in one of my gardens, sunk it down about 6 inches in the soil, and filled it with flowers and for the winter holidays, I fill it with greens. It makes a great planter and has very few weeds to deal with in it. It has been in my garden for almost 20 years now. At my seaside cottage I took 2 big old galvanized washtubs and sunk them into the ground, filled with soil and planted hydrangeas in one and a dwarf alberta spruce in the other. The shrubs are growing happily, because they are in good soil, seaside gardens have poor sandy soil and need a lot of additives to get things to grow. Along with this washtub theme, I found and old galvanized settub or sink, it is divided into 2 sinks inside , each with a drain spigot on the bottom to release the water. It has a wide piece of wood for a cover. This piece as well as providing an interesting accent for my “Washtub Garden” has had many useful purposes, it is great for filling with ice to cool cold drinks for a picnic, I have dragged the hose over to it and filled and washed all kinds of things in it, soaked pots, hooked rugs, cleaned garden tools, cleaned fresh caught fish, stored clams on ice, it is an old fashioned sink, still performing it’s intended uses but also decorating the garden. An added plus it is on wheels, I guess in Grandma’s day it was placed next to the old wringer washer.
Another fun thing I have done both here and at the cottage, is to take an antique chair, that has lost it’s caned seat and placed a big clay pot that fits right in the seat, it’s lips stay above the seat opening so it doesn’t slide down. Fill it with flowers and place in the garden. Another idea is to find a old wooden chair, paint it an interesting color, place in the garden , maybe in the middle of a flower bed, in a place where no human would be tempted to go into the garden to sit but a place for the garden fairies to rest or the chipmunks sun themselves, or the birds can perch on the back of the chair and sing their hearts out.
An old iron bedframe can be a “Garden Bed” I had riped out an area of berry bushes last summer and had a large hole in a section of garden but it was too late to plant new plants in the ground, so I put the bed all together and arranged it in my garden, covered the springs with a piece of dark green painted plywood and filled it with pots of mums. Now that was a garden bed. This year it is now happily redesigned and living on my deck, covered with outdoor cushions and pillows and has a new life as a daybed for relaxing in the shade with a book. I also have just a headboard of an old iron bed and are using that as an interesting back-drop like a piece of fence or garden gate for ivy to grow up and around. I couldn’t find an old garden gate at the time this garden went in so the idea for the iron headboard came to me and I love it. It is now covered with vines and has a whole garden planted around it.
Creat garden rooms, paths leading to little secret alcoves and using atypical pieces of antique furniture in the outdoors can make your space unique. Everyone can go to Home Depot and purchase the everyday variety of garden and patio furniture. But by using the unexpected you can really decorate an outside room. You can paint wooden furniture with a good outdoor paint to try to preserve it or just let it go au natural, chippy paint, bleached out stain, rust all which add to the rustic charm of using less than perfect antiques outside. Their life may be limited because of the elements but your redesigning and reuse has extended their time as they were put out to “pasture” as not being good enough to reside inside any more but they add charm to your outdoor scape.
Old chandeliers can get a new life with candles being placed in the sockets , but remember to hang them carefully when using lighted candles, I even have found some old glass globes to use to protect the candle flame from the wind when lit. Lamps can be de-electrified also and candles used.
Don’t forget about your broken china pieces, don’t throw away the pretty floral pieces and shards they can be used in the garden, mixed in with stones, seashells ect. A mosiac tabletop can be made with the broken pieces and fastened with mortar or grout, the ideas are endless. I have put a few large pieces of broken china that had roses on it as stepping stones in a birdbath for the birds.
These are just a few ideas for using antiques in the garden, your imagination is limitless. get creative with your cast-offs. Remember these are accessories, use as a focal point to make a staement, don’t over due it, let these be little surprise touches here and there. After a few seasons and they have worn to beyond shabby , let your creative self rescue something new and give it a new life in your garden.

Personalizing a Space with Books

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

A Collection of Books on Ireland

A Collection of Books on Ireland

Accessories add life, beauty, interest and a bit of excitement, whether you are decorating a room or an outfit to wear. Using accessories properly to add just the right amount of drama can make a boring, impersonal space into a warm, interesting, inviting enviroment.
One of the easiest ways to personalize a room is to use books as a decorating accessory. What announces and shares what your most passionate interests are, is the books that you read. Whether you are a bookworm who just has to be the first to read everything on the best-seller list or a casual reader who likes light fiction or a collector who loves to research their finds or just an armchair traveler who dreams about visiting far off places, there are so many books to enjoy and to share that reflect your personal interests.
Books come with beautiful colorful illustrated dustjackets. Did you know, that 1/2 of the value of a collectible or rare book is the paper dustjacket? Without the dustjacket, the book’s value is dimished, so protect and handle carefully those paper book protectors. Many books come with fine decorative bindings, leather or faux leather, gilt lettering or designs, embossed illustrations ect. Victorian novels had covers decorated with beautiful illustrations of the fashionable heroine of the story, many of my customers collect these just for the cover illustrations, sadly and not read the stories but these look beautiful piled and displayed in a bedroom, on a lady’s antique desk , even a powder room.
Bedrooms are the perfect place to creat a special reading corner with a comfortable chair, a footstool, a small table with room for a lamp, a cup of tea and a few books. A basket or the footstool can hold a collection of your favorite books next to your chair. A wonderful place to escape to for a few moments of quiet to enjoy your favorite author. Maybe you are like me and have a nightly ritual of reading a chapter or two before sleep, I even have a bookmark that says “There is Where I Fell Asleep” to mark my page. My bedside table always has a collection of books that I am reading or next to be read. A bookcase or even a china cabinet doing duty as a bookcase can add to the decor of creating a personalized reading nook. These private little spaces can be created in a corner of anyroom, at the end of a hallway, an alcove under the stairs, anywhere you can fit a chair, lamp and a place for your books.
For those lucky enough to devote a whole room to a library of books, nothing makes a space feel more warm and inviting than floor to ceiling bookcases filled with all kinds of interesting books to read. A comfortable couch, filled with comfortable pillows, maybe a throw to toss over yourself, several lamps scattered throughout the room with to be used to illuminate just where you are reading, keeping the light level, comfortable and flattering, not glaring with overly bright overhead lights. Perhaps a large table that can handle stacks of books and still leave plenty of space to open a book and spread out to do research or take notes, a library table or a large wooden desk. I have sinfully sold books with decorative bindings by the foot to customers who just wanted to fill their bookshelves, to impress their friends or clients with their selection of classics but had no intention of ever reading the books. It is with mixed emotions that I fill these orders being a true book-lover, don’t they know that they are missing out? As a book-buyer, finding these unread libraries that were purchased just for their decorative appeal and never read or even handled is like winning the lottery in the rare book market.
Hallways can also be used to creat a library, if your hall is wide enough floor to ceiling bookcaes or all matching height bookcases can create a really interesting space and focal point to be observed from many other rooms or areas. Perhaps you have a loft or open balcony that can be seen from other rooms, it’s the perfect place to creat a reading alcove.
Livingrooms have so many places to place and arrange books on . The large colorful travelbooks, also known as coffeetable books are perfectly at home here. Great for guests to enjoy and share with them your favorite places. A wonderful ice breaker to get people talking. After you may have visited one of these far away places, a travel book is a great remembrance of your trip to enjoy over and over again. It could also be armchair traveling and dreaming material. Studying the great interiors in magazines like Architectual Digest, piles of books placed on tables, stools, in piles on the floor, on any flat surface add so much interest to the room, I am always fascinated by the tittles to see what the celebrities are reading. I learn so much about people from the books that they have read, it really gives an inside look at how they think and what interests them. In my business of buying books from estates, I can get enough clues from the books, the tittles, the inscriptions, the bookmarks and letters found in the books to put together the story of the owner’s life and interests. Nothing tells more about a person than their books. I rescue the books and hopefully pass them on to someone else to love and enjoy.
Gardening and art books can reside in any room, but make a statement in any of the public rooms. their beautiful covers, jackets and illustrations make a beautiful decorating accessory no matter where they are placed. You would be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn’t appreciate the beauty of flowers, gardener or not. I love to place a book of garden lore, garden art or garden poetry on the nightstand in the guestroom. One word about old garden and art books, if the books are falling apart and have lost their value, re-design, re-use, pull out the illustrations, mat and frame and display on the wall as artwork. I don’t encourage the pulling apart of a good book but to salvage a toss away and recycle the illustrations to enjoy for another decade or two is a great ‘green’ idea.
Cookbooks are not just books of recipes. We have an extensive collection for sale in our shop and the hundreds of International cookbooks we have are more travelogues, to learn from and are filled with photos to actually see the cities and countrysides and then complimented with anecdotes and text that will entertain you with the stories, traditions, and customs behind the dishes. Grandma’s favorite Red and White old Betty Crocker Cookbook from the 1940’s is perfectly happy sitting on a shelf in the kitchen but the new exciting cookbooks are meant to be on display and available for all to read. Books on wine wil not only educate you on making the right selections but the photos and with the travel information on the vineyards, whether France, California, Spain, Germany or many others, you can spend many happy hours armchair traveling with a glass of wine by your side.
There books on any subject, for any interests and there isn’t a place in your home that couldn’t be accessorized with a collection of books or just a single properly placed book. To protect your books from harm, try to avoid placing them in direct bright sunlight or in areas of extreme moisture. Try to arrange them to stand straight up or lay down flat. Move and rotate when on shelves, dust lightly with a feather duster. Don’t pack too tightly on the shelves, make sure they are easy to slide in and out without damaging the books or dustjackets. Books bring the world to your door, spread them around and share the ideas and dreams with all who enter your abode.

Re-Design Project: Victorian Fireplace Mantle / Bed Headboard

Friday, December 26th, 2008

Finished Project

Finished Project

[caption id="attachment_17" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Ca. 1880's Fireplace Mantle "]Ca. 1880's Fireplace Mantle [/caption]
HISTORY: You never know when inspiration is going to strike. I had been thinking about replacing my Walnut East Lake bed for a few years. I loved it dearly, the headboard was over 6 feet tall, made with walnut boards that went across the headboard diagonally with a scalloped and carved top header. I had had this bed for over 35 years. I had spotted it in an antique shop and fell in love with it. I got it home tied to the roof of my car, about a 40 mile trip, the benevolent spirits must have been with me that day, it got home completely intact. It has moved with me to new homes every time. The walnut bed was joined by a matching walnut dresser several years later. I live in a very unique home, it was built in 1783, orginally as a schoolhouse, it was called “The Academy” and served as a one room school for high school age students. After the civil war, there weren’t enough students, so the school was closed, no one really wanted the building, it was used as the 1st Catholic Church for several years, townhall for a short time and finally was sold to an adjacent estate in exchange for a large steel beam to be used in construction of a building damaged by fire. It was moved to it’s present location and plunked down in the middle of an orchard on the estate. It was the used as a private theater for the owner, who was the publisher of “Ladies Home Companion” Magazine, she used it for entertaining her guests and built tennis courts next to it. Several very noted, famous people in publishing, goverment ( including 2 presidents) and businessmen came to stay with her in the main house and enjoyed entertainment and tennis here. After she died the estate was divided up and sold off, this building eventually became a home in the 1950’s and has been home to Lavender Path Antiques and my home since the early 1990’s.
I am fortunate to have the original 24 foot domed ceilings, which made decorating a “large” challenge. The rooms are also oversized. In looking in furniture stores, all the beds available were just too small, uninteresting and of inferior quality woods and craftmanship compared to an antique bed. I keep looking waitng for inspiration to strike. New beds just didn’t have the romance I was looking for, and antique beds were getting very hard to find and the prices were really going up. One reason for parting with my antique bed was the size, I really needed a larger bed, with a large dog sleeping on my feet and 2 cats snuggling up beside me there wasn’t a lot of room for anyone else. So when I had almost given the idea of change, inspiration hit me. I had seen a photograph of an antique fireplace mantle re-designed into a headboard. I fell in love. Even though I am an antique dealer, to find a Victorian Fireplace mantle, exactly what I was looking for wasn’t going to be easy. I started by searching architectural salvage companies, years ago, many bargains and what interesting pieces could be found in them. But I got the shock of my life, looking at the prices for these items there in today’s market. I made several phone calls to antique shops all around, tracked down a few mantles but they didn’t fit my vision of what I wanted. Decorating with antiques can be a very slow process at times, to find the perfect piece when you are looking for it can be daunting. I wasn’t giving up. I shopped Ebay till I had blisters on my fingers, saw some that just might fit the bill, but had to think about shipping costs or distance to go pick it up. Price ranges were all over the lot. But the research help me formulate my idea and I knew exactly what style I wanted and the appox. price it was going to cost. I continued my search online and looked at several but it appeared I needed to find one I could pick up rather than ship. These are rather heavy. I decided to check my local Craigslist classified ads list. Bingo! I found one listed and only 6 towns away. The person emailed me a photo and I fell in love, he had what I had envisioned. The mantle had a mirror with candle shelves on either side of it and a upper shelf, bringing the total height to over 7 feet tall, just what I needed. There was some carving detail on the top section and on the lower section. It took a week to get our schedules coordinated so I could go see it. I was so afraid it would be sold to someone else who got there first but luck was on my side. I knew I was going to buy it even before I saw it in person. And best of all it was a bargain! It barely fit in my van even though it was in 2 pieces. But I got it home. Friends and family thought I had really flipped my lid when they saw it. But I could visualize the beauty it could become. *** Refer to photo at top of page for it’s original condition.

PROCESS: As I took it out of the truck, no easy task for a middle aged woman, who is fit, it was heavy, my excitement must have given me the adrenlin rush I needed to move it by myself. The mantle was covered with dirty, chippy, old white paint. It had been in storage in a basement for several decades and only recently moved into a garage. It was dirty. I scrubbed it down with good old Murphy’s oil soap and got all the decades of grime off. The mantle had no structural damage, the wood was in fine condition, aa little wear here and there but that is the charm of antiques. I had a decision to make on what to do with the finish. I could spend hours, sanding it down to bare wood and then staining it, or paint it. I felt stripping it would take away a lot of the character of the piece, it would never be “perfect” and perhaps all that work wouldn’t be worth it. There were several layers of paint on it. I didn’t want it painted white, I wanted it to marry with the Eastlake dresser that I owned. The dresser was painted a very dark reddish brown, almost black in some light and decorated with handpainted flowers and green leaves, all original. I had a paint chart wheel with over a 1000 colors on it, given to me by a painter, I took the chart and matched the color of the dresser to one on the chart. I went to Home Depot and they made it up. In the light of my bedroom the color looks almost like mahogany wood. I painted the mantle, it took 3 coats. Working with the paint, brushing in the direction of the grain only, I was able to create the look of grained wood, never completely covering with a solid coat over the layer underneath, leting a faint amount of the lighter color of the previous coat underneath peek through. I did this show-through technique on corners and other spots that wood had natural worn spots from years of use. I did not want to make it look new, I still wanted the antique character, wear and blemishes included. I work with a small sponge paint brushes, I find they give me the agility and ability to do fussy paint techniques rather than a regular paint brush, then when you are done, throw away. In a few spots, I would wipe off a little of the wet paint with a rag, further “distressing” or aging the look. It came out exactly matching the dresser. Taking the cue from the green leaves that decorated the dresser, I put a coat of forest green paint over the base color on the applied decorative carvings on the mantle, I did that quickly with an artist brush not covering the carvings completely, there again striving for a worn look, not newly painted. On top of the green paint I used another artist brush and used liquid gold leaf paint, there again quickly running the brush over just the high points of the design. In a few spots, I felt I had applied the gold paint to heavy, I just rubbed some off with a rag while still wet, to give it a burnished aged look. The bed was now finished and ready to be moved into the room.

HARDWARE AND ASSEMBLY: I had to purchase a new mattress, foundation and bedframe. I bought a queen size that would fit perfect size -wise with the mantle. I placed the lower part of the mantle against the wall. I used 2 very thin pieces of scrap wood, less than 1/4 inch thick, under the front legs of the mantle to creat an ever so slight pitch, so that it learns back towards the wall. I did this only because it was going to be sitting on carpet. I slid the bed frame and mattress to sit right in front of the mantle leaving about 2 inches of space inbetween the mantle and the bed. The top half of the mantle with the mirror and the shelves would sit on the bottom part of the mantle. Now here is the part that really took some thought. I wanted to make sure that the top of the mantle was secure. The bottom is mostly covered by the bed and will never fall forward. I put 2 heavy-duty round screw-eye hooks on the back of the top of the mantle, on either side like you would do with a picture frame , I placed them about 6 inches down from the top edge. I fastened into a stud in the wall a heavy round circle on a plate that fastened into the stud with 4 screws. This was actually a hook used to tie horses, I felt if it could hold a horse it could hold this mantle for sure. I used length of brass chain, the type that is used for hanging chandeliers, I used the chain to attach to the eye hooks on the back of the mantle and then attach to the horse ring in the stud. This may be being a little overcautious, but I wanted to be sure it was secure to the wall. I could have done some framing and fastened the whole mantle to the wall but I was concerned about damaging the wall permanently and wanted to be able to take the mantle headboard if I should ever move again. Once I got the top in place, I realized with the way it was constucted with the front posts on the mantle shelf, that would also prevent it from tipping forward. But I have now gotten it very secure. I’ll bet you are wondering about the opening in the mantle that is open for the fireplace. There are 2 ways to handle that. I purchased 4 bed risers to put the feet of the bedframe raising the bed 8 more inches off the floor. I had used them also with my old Eastlake bed. I like a high bed for the look, and for the storage space underneath and being able to vacuum under the bed easier. By using the risers the height of the bed is now only 1 inch short of covering the opening in the mantle, with big fluffy pillows, it never shows. The alternative that could be done would be to take a piece of plywood cut slighter bigger than the opening, cover the plywood with quilt batting material, staple with a staple gun in place and then cover with coordinating fabric that matches or compliments your bedding. Take the fabric covered board and screw it into the back of the mantle. My using the risers eliminated the need for covering in the opening in the mantle. I change my bedding quilts and coverlets so often that I would be changing that fabric cover all the time.

DECORATE: I purchased 3 bed skirts that coordinate, florals and solids in different lengths. Now remember using the risers you need a longer bedskirt, my need was for a 21 inch drop. Then I used a 15 and a 13 inch over that. I use 2 king size pillows at the very top of the bed up against the mantle, they are there all the time. I then layer 2 queen pillows on top of them and use 2 pairs of regular size pillows in front of them for that romantic Bed and Breakfast look. I mix and match florals, stripes and solids in pillowcases as I did in the bedskirts. Choose your decorations to put on the mantle and shelves. I have opted to leave the very top shelf bare, was concerned about things could fall but so far everything on the lower shelves have not moved an inch, all secure.

Result: I am just thrilled with my Re-designed headboard. I rescued an old mantle that had no home and it has a new life as a high headboard with the Victorian look I had envisioned, that fits perfectly with my very large room. The integrity of the mantle is still there, it can be re-used as a mantle anytime as it was originally designed for. This project went much faster than expected and the luck of finding the piece so fast must have had some divine intervention. So yes you can fall in love again.

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”