Antiques can fit neatly in a thoroughly modern room
Old and new can sometimes clash — think about the antiquated views of your great-aunt Stella versus those of your daughter. But in home decor, they can live in perfect, mismatched harmony.
And it’s a trend the organizers of Ottawa’s largest antique show have noticed in recent years. While many people today decorate with a modern edge, they like to mix old and new for an eclectic and unique look.
Those who want to get in on the decorating trend can visit the Fall Ottawa Antiques Sale at the Fieldhouse at Carleton University. It runs from Oct. 26 to Oct. 28 and features 40,000 square feet of booths. Dealers come from across Ontario and as far away as Nova Scotia.
“People will come to the sale to find an antique accent piece or a unique item that they can work into their own decor,” says Catherine Knoll, who organizes the sale.
Her favourite example of this decorating fusion is the ultra-modern townhouse of a couple of friends in Toronto. In their kitchen they have a huge, antique French armoire that they use as a pantry. “Everything around it is totally modern.”
On their second floor, they have an antique desk they inherited. Again, it’s surrounded by a cutting-edge style and it works.
“I find the antique pieces, when you put them in a modern setting, really pop. The more minimal the background, the better,” says Knoll. She’s also seen antique harvest tables dropped into otherwise ultra-contemporary dining rooms or kitchens. “The table just gives the place a real warmth and it really shows up.”
In short, antiques can be used as an accent in a thoroughly modern room.
Lee Caswell, co-owner of Antiques on Queen in Port Hope, Ont., frequently combines old and new when he helps customers design homes with his pieces. A recent project he helped design was in an 1840s home. The owners wanted to create a dressing room in a small part of a larger bedroom.
They used a couple of antique French armoire doors and attached them to an IKEA cupboard. They later applied mirrors on either side so that the IKEA furniture ultimately just acted as a frame. To mark off the little room, they installed zinc-coloured antique columns that once supported street lights in Kingston.
“You want to build upon the architecture rather than fight with it,” says Caswell. “Let the buildings tell you what they want.”
Ernest Johnson, owner of Ernest Johnson Antiques, likes to combine contemporary art with antique furni- ture. Certain styles lend themselves better to the look, says Johnson. Biedermeier pieces, for example, go much better with more modern art than do Victorian works.
Both men recommend consulting a decorator if you want to try the oldnew style and don’t feel confident or creative enough to do it yourself. Johnson says reputable antique dealers will let customers buy a piece and take it home to make sure they like it. If they don’t, they can return it. Jennifer Campbell is a frequent contributor to Style Weekly Homes.
Ernest Johnson likes to combine contemporary art with antique furniture, as certain styles lend themselves better to the look. The owner of Ernest Johnson Antiques recommends consulting a decorator if you want to try the old-new style and don’t feel confident or creative enough to do it yourself.