Every house has a distinct feeling and personality based on its age, its owners and how they use the space. I love the impact antiques have in any environment be that a traditional English country house, a home in London or one overseas. As we examine more closely the impact of our lifestyles on the environment and the earth’s natural resources, the need to re-use, rather than throwing away and buying new, is becoming stronger. When it comes to decorating homes, using antique furniture and textiles is the most sustainable way forward.
I grew up surrounded by antiques, so I know first-hand that they add both character and a certain softness to an interior. Even if it’s just a question of incorporating one piece to create a focal point in a very modern room - the simplicity of antique brown furniture, for example, can set a lovely contrast against more contemporary pieces. An antique introduces an element of the unexpected and the juxtaposition results in an even stronger statement. A piece of antique furniture is also an art form; it demonstrates fine craftsmanship that most modern pieces can’t rival.
The first steps for anyone beginning the journey of decorating with antiques should start with what a person likes, rather than focussing on the value. It’s about finding a piece (or several pieces) that speak to you on a personal level. It’s not necessary to spend a fortune from the outset. It is good to mix pieces from different countries, styles and periods.
When shopping for antiques, bear in mind that scale is very important: getting this right will create interest and contrast. Sometimes a large piece in a small room has a dramatic effect, the same is true of the reverse approach. Antiques need to be used and enjoyed - not held in aspic or behind a piece of protective glass (or, even, stashed away in the attic). It’s no good designing a room that looks amazing but cannot be lived in and enjoyed by all.