Category Archives: Antiques

Your interior style

It is often the small things in a home that make the biggest impact. One of the things I love to do when working with a client on their home or garden is to discover the history and stories around their furniture and accessories. Everyone has a past and it is this which gives their lives interest. Some people collect pebbles or shells but they never trained as geologists while others collect glass scent bottles yet never wear perfume. These pieces all have a story, and together with the colour of the walls, the textures of the fabrics and the furnishings, bring a room to life.

Create impact on your dining table

A dining table can form the focal point in a room

Although I have a set of rules which I know will work to bring a colour scheme for a house together, I try not to impose my own personal style onto a client, after all they have to live with the rooms I have helped them create long after I have finished decorating and hung the window dressings. That is why I think it is important for a designer to get a full understanding of how a client will use a room and how it can best be decorated to suit their lifestyle. Living with and displaying prized possessions or antiques should be as important to the designer as it is the client.

While it might seem like a nice idea to be able to throw all your furniture and window dressings away every few years and start again, for most of us this is impractical and from an environmental point of view unsustainable. I would much rather work with a few interesting existing pieces and plan a room around them, often recovering or repainting furniture to ensure it fits. I also have a love of mixing contemporary styles and furnishings with antiques. For me this style of decorating allows the interior to reflect its owner’s life and loves.

Nottinghamshire bedroom

A stylish guest bedroom in this Nottinghamshire home

I don’t believe there is a secret to blending different styles within an interior, but you have to do it with confidence. There is no doubting that some of us are better at it than others but if you buy what you like you will invariably find somewhere to put it. We all tend to have one style which we buy into so work out what your style is, then work with the things you like and allow your style to grow from there. If you start by mixing small pieces of furniture and antiques, you can gradually work your way through a room. Try combining a traditional side table with a contemporary lamp and then pull the colour from the lamp into cushions or another accessory. And don’t be afraid of colour: it can dramatically change your home and your mood!

I believe that every space can be comfortable, relaxed and beautiful without you feeling pressured to be perfect.  I would love to help you achieve your beautiful home and garden. If I can help with a home or garden project please give me a call. Alison: 01572 747318 or 07973 843020.

Antiques they’re greener

For a long time I’ve been writing about how to mix old or antique furniture with more contemporary pieces to create a more eclectic look in your home. Well now I have another reason for buying antiques: they’re greener.

It's all in the detail

After years of falling prices antiques are now as cheap as they have ever been withwhat is often called brown furniture selling for very low prices. Don’t get me wrong, antiques can still be investment pieces, the good Gillows, Liberty and Chippendales are still commanding exceptional prices, and good quality Georgian and Victorian pieces are still making good money at auction.  But it can be cheaper to buy an antique piece, than its flat pack equivalent, and importantly it will hold its value. And what is really important is that this is a greener option too. During the 1980’s elegant mahogany and oak furniture saw something of a renaissance in the auction houses as we clamored to fill our houses with period pieces but in the 1990s and 2000s we started looking to the future. Scandinavian design was very much in fashion and we moved away from ‘brown furniture’.  A few of us still sold these pieces, often hand painted to emulate the Scandinavian look but flat pack and the rise of Ikea seemed to take over.

It may not be fashionable, but i've always loved 'brown' furniture

I now think we will see a shift away from flat pack furniture, not least because you can now pick up a well made, solid wood piece which will last for another 100 years or more for the equivalent price and it’s greener too. The energy and materials needed to make it have already been used so its impact on the planet and our precious resources is negligible. Your modern flat pack furniture uses new wood and energy to manufacture it, it’s probably made of particle board, fibre board and polyurethane/acrylic paint, it uses petroleum products and energy and will last 5 – 50 years if you’re lucky.

So if you’re looking to a brighter, greener future, take a look at what’s on sale at our local auction houses and antique centres. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you’ll come to love a little piece of history in your home.

Garden & Decorative Antiques

I am looking forward to seeing all the beautiful garden and decorative antiques that Claire Langley in Stamford has to offer. For one week each year she takes all her usual period and decorative antiques out of her shop in St Martin’s Stamford and replaces them with a huge range of garden and architectural items. It will provide food for thought for some of the gardens I am designing at the moment and will be a precursor to my visit to the Chelsea Flower Show next week.