Mis­matched har­mony

An­tiques can fit neatly in a thor­oughly mod­ern room

Ottawa Citizen - - Homes - Y JEN­NIFER CAMP ELL

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...

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