Decorating & Design

December 4, 2008

Using Antiques In A Modern Space

Q. My husband and I were married a few years ago and moved into his contemporary condo. Our tastes in décor differ: I like eclectic and he likes modern. The area of concern is the living space (12’ by 10’). All walls are taupe and I’m a colour person. My antiques are in storage and I would love to blend the best of both in this room. Help!

— D.L, Edmonton

A. Don’t worry — modern and antique pieces can be mixed together in a room to create a layered, eclectic style that’s bold and fresh and incorporates both your tastes. You didn’t mention what antique pieces you have in storage, but you may have a few that can be used in the room. Since you already have a contemporary leather sofa, I would suggest replacing the leather chair with two antique upholstered armchairs. The eclectic look is all about contrast and surprise, so look for chairs with good frames and have them recovered in a bold striped silk or an eye-catching damask in blacks, browns or tans. A hint of the exotic is key to achieving an eclectic look in a room, so consider replacing your glass console table with an Asian-style sideboard.

The two framed mirrors hung on the walls above your corner fireplace look awkward. Instead, prop up one of the mirrors on the centre of the mantel and layer artwork and framed prints in front it. The piece of sculpture you currently have on the floor beside the fireplace would look great displayed on the mantel. The large abstract painting hanging beside your sofa works well as a modern element in the room and adds drama.

I know you like colour, but I think you should keep the walls neutral — greys are always trendy, provide an elegant background to any style and will help unify all the contrasting elements in the room. Try Benjamin Moore’s Abalone (2108-60). Also, paint the staircase handrail in a deeper shade of grey, such as Benjamin Moore’s Stardust (2108-40). Finally, purchase an area rug with an antique looking pattern to ground the room in the past.

These are just a few suggestions — keep in mind that the eclectic look will not come together successfully overnight. It could take you a while to find the right combination of furnishings and accessories to create a pleasing balance between opposing styles.