A growing trend in interior design is toward mixing modern and antique furniture.

Combining contrasting styles is evolving into a unique approach to achieving outstanding visual impact and appeal.  It delights in the unexpected. In addition to making your home look fresh, exciting, and beautiful, it can be used to express your unique decorating flair and style.

Mixing contemporary and traditional interior design requires careful use of proportion and balance. It combines different textures, shapes, styles, and colours to create a cohesive, interesting and distinctive look.

Adopting this refreshing style need not be expensive as there are many antique furnishings available at affordable prices. Nor do you have to be an avid collector of antiques. Combine the two so your space looks and feels modern yet luxuriously classic at the same time.

Combining modern and traditional furniture does not mean adopting an unplanned and eclectic jumble of styles, either. You can’t simply throw antique and modern furniture together in the hope of achieving the ideal look.

To pull this off, you require a clear vision and goal which defines the mood and ambiance which you want your space to portray. Doing so requires careful planning and research as well as a fair amount of inspiration.

Carefully select and gather items containing interesting elements that will work well together when combined. As individual pieces they may not necessarily appear to fit but when you put the right things together with confidence and a strong sense of style your home will look awesome.

Putting Things Together for an Inspired and Creative Look

A school of thought exists that everything should match in a well designed home interior. Based upon a premise that a home with modern architecture should be filled with modern furniture or a home with a vintage framework should be filled with vintage pieces.

On the contrary, a contemporary style of decorating can incorporate period décor or furniture in a tasteful and stylish manner.

You can use antique items in your modern home (or the other way around) and achieve harmony and beauty. The following guidelines may assist:

Bear in mind the 80/20 rule.

The ubiquitous 80/20 rule (i.e. Pareto principle) can apply to home decorating as well. This suggests that 80% of the design should convey the principal theme you wish your space to display, while the remaining 20% can be accents which provide an interesting contrast.

For example, if you don’t have many period pieces, you can opt for contemporary as your home’s dominant theme, with antiques as supporting elements. If your home has a vintage vibe, place some modern accents (e.g. lighting fixtures, window treatments) to add a touch of urban chic.

Look for non-matching items that have at least one characteristic in common.

Pieces tend to work better together when they share one or two attributes. For example, an antique wooden desk looks good with a modern chair if the chair is also made of wood, has a comparable shade of color, or shares the same grain texture.

Position items evenly.

If you have a modern home setting, do not place all your antique pieces in a single area. This may result in that space looking unbalanced and sectioned off — an interior design anomaly, if you will. It’s better to distribute antique pieces throughout the room or the house.

You can for example place a vintage nightstand on one side of a bed and a contemporary nightstand on the other. You can then create a visually balanced look by utilising a vintage bedside lamp on the modern nightstand and ultra modern designer piece on the antique one.

There is an exception to this rule, however. If you want to deliberately draw attention to a few antique pieces, you can place them together to create a focal area. In this case, you can make the antiques stand out by using neutral shades throughout the room.

The Elements of the Modern/Antique Style

Beautiful interior design which combines vintage and modern furniture will invariably incorporate the following elements:

  • An attractive, well thought out blend of modern and vintage appeal
  • Basically serene background colors
  • The unexpected and creative use of shapes, size, colours, textures and materials
  • Well thought out placements of unique furnishings and artwork
  • A confident organisation in what may sometimes appear attractively random, laid-back or cluttered
  • An artistic use of handcrafted items or those holding sentimental value

How to Decorate with Antiques in a Modern Style

The great thing about mixing old and new furniture is that you are free to experiment. Let your creativity flow.Think outside the box when it comes to decorating with vintage furniture in a modern style.

Here are a few ideas to help get you started:

  • If you have an antique dresser, repurpose it and use it in a different way. Place it in your living room as a console for your TV set, or to display artwork and for storage of small items.
  • Stand a few wine bottles and glasses on your vintage secretaire. It could look amazing as a home bar.
  • Play up the contrasts. Pair a vintage wooden table with a beautifully aged patina or a distressed look with modern chairs.
  • A beautiful oriental rug can add just the right measure of pattern and texture to a minimalist room which features only a couple of modern pieces.
  • If you have a kitchen with a clean, industrial look, you can add a touch of warmth by adding a couple of vintage storage cabinets.
  • Let visitors appreciate the appeal of an antique wardrobe by putting it in your dining room instead of hiding it in your dressing room.
  • Pair a highly wrought or elaborately designed desk or console with a modern, stark looking streamlined bench.
  • An ornamental French mirror or an elaborate Louis XIV gilt framed mirror will contribute a touch of sophisticated splendour to an otherwise ultra modern living room.
  • An antique silver mirror or a lovely crystal chandelier can add a strong vintage touch to a dining room containing a very modern dining suite.
  • Pair a rustic wooden dining table with contemporary metal chairs to create a terrific contrast.
  • Reupholster a Louis bergère or an old Regency armchair with fabric that has an ultra modern design. The contemporary material will serve as a beautiful contrast to the intricately carved and gracefully rounded accents of the antique chair.
  • If you have a room filled with antique furniture, add a refreshing contrast with a piece of contemporary art.
  • Brighten up a vintage sofa table with a couple of contemporary lamps.
  • Highlight a brick or stone fireplace mantelpiece in a modern room by placing a lovely eye catching ornate vintage item on it.
  • Use contemporary light fixtures in a rustic looking room that has antique décor.
  • Make your reading nook stand out by pairing a modern side table with a lovely antique armchair.
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