It's your property - mixing décor: Old with new

One of the strongest underlying trends that has consistently been  gaining momentum over the past decade is the inclusion and influence of old styles on today’s modern design ethos. This trend is notable across the board – from fashion design, to the design of motor vehicles, gadgets, architecture and of course in this reference, interior design. Modern designers all over the world are reaching into the past to create the future.

The reason for the resurgent popularity of these older styles is arguably the increase in the appreciation of the standards of quality and luxury that many items from the past are infused with. The saying: “They don’t make them like they used to” is the quintessential motto underlying this movement. In the not so distant past, furniture and décor items were constructed with good quality materials and designed to last and offer the maximum comfort and enjoyment possible. In the mass produced society we live in today – these are qualities that modern society aspires to.
Another proverb that speaks volumes about this movement is: “You don’t have to re-invent the wheel, just perfect it.” With regards to this, many designs are perfectly functional – it’s just a matter of taking them and tweaking them to make them new and modern again. A good example of this is the sling-back chair – perfect in its functionality and comfort to the extreme – this particular design has gone through many style regimes, from Victorian to ‘70s retro, however it has maintained its unique design and been slightly modified to match the trends of the time.
Much of today’s interior design is motivated by old, glamorous epochs and the combination of “old fashioned” stylistic elements, but with a modern edge – resulting in a piece that has all the beauty and luxury of older designs, but which is also relevant to today’s environment and design society. This dual-motivation offers an aesthetically pleasing conflict – the tendency towards the intricate, almost fussy and delicate designs of the past, amalgamated with the contemporary clean-cut functionalism of the more modern design styles.
The influence of the past is most definitely noticeable, however the way in which it has been modernised is clear as well – colours are subdued and organic, and more modern materials are used to tame the sometimes over elaborate pieces. The statement of luxury is never lost, however the overly gaudy design statements have been trimmed to reveal a highly stylised and contemporary sense of glamour and comfort.

Modern interior design is not just being influenced by the past – actual pieces from eras gone by are consistently finding there way into modern homes as well. Blending antique with modern and custom-designed pieces, is an emerging design trend that is a passport to timeless, sophisticated and avant-garde interiors. If blended in a professional manner, modern and antique pieces can complement one another and bring out each others best qualities. However, like many other things in design, it is essential that this is not done randomly – there are a few ground rules that need to be considered to create a unified and fashionable look. They include:
Unify the look – Tie all the pieces together by creating a unifying idea – this can be done by upholstering all the furniture in one particular fabric or using a particular unifying colour scheme for example. Old pieces can be given a modern lift by using alternative, textured or brightly coloured modern fabric. Modern pieces on the other hand, can be given a tongue-in-cheek old fashioned flavour by being covered in antique-inspired material.

Gallery display – Add interest to contemporary and minimalist interiors by including a beautiful old piece in a gallery-like setting. It is important to note however, that in order for this to be successful, it is crucial that the piece in question is truly spectacular – one that is less than stellar will not do.

Tone it down – For overly decorated antique pieces, items that are clean-cut and contemporary are the perfect complementary suitor – they serve to tone the old piece down a little, while the plain contemporary pieces highlight the intricacy and detail of the older piece without creating an interior that is overly busy. For example, if you have an intricately hand-carved antique dining room table, modern chairs such as a Louis Ghost Chair, would make for stunning complementary pieces.
Touchy and feely – texture is an essential element to a successful interior. The trick is to combine various textures that complement each other, and create an interesting aesthetic or corporeal effect. Material that is regarded as old fashioned, such as wood and velvet, can be strikingly contrasted with more modern materials, such as stainless steel and Perspex for example.

An even balance – When mixing various styles, it is essential that they are evenly dispersed throughout the interior composition. Don’t group all the modern items together, and all the old items together – rather intersperse them amongst each other.
Old furniture can be included in the interior or exterior of your home. It can be used as a functional piece of furniture or a feature in its own right. The combination of old and new is an accomplished way of creating a successful and interesting interior. However, it must be noted that which ever old and modern style you opt for, be sure to pick special pieces that speak to you – your character, your sense of style and your history. Mixing old and new styles is a manner of not only speaking of society’s past and future, but one that speaks of yours as well. – Antonella Desi

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