Design Dilemma

Styling Traditional Wood Furniture

Monday, May 11th, 2015

I received an email from Sarah with a design dilemma, she like many has inherited a unique piece of furniture, it belonged to her grandmother and recently was restored by her father to its original wood state. Sarah wants to keep the heirloom buffet in her home, it has sentimental value, but her dilemma is how to create a stylish look with this piece that sits in her dining room.

grandmothers buffet

Personally, I love seeing wood pieces like this in a home, they add richness and warmth, and mixing pieces from different periods makes a home feel collected over time. The use of traditional wood furniture like this can be a purposeful placement by antique lovers, or a much treasured heirloom like Sarah’s that a family wants to keep.

In this case my first instinct is to change the wall color to anything other than brown with fresh paint or perhaps a wall treatment, and add a large scale mirror or art gallery  above. I might replace the pulls with something sleeker like these and place a large potted plant or tree to the right.

To style it there is so much she can do with decorative accents to create a layered appealing look. Here are a few examples I found where both bloggers and designers have tackled this same issue and styled traditional wood furniture in a contemporary way.

Below a gilded mirror and trio of classic blue and white chinoiserie accents (two vases, one lamp) introduce shape and color. Books and a smaller work of abstract art balance out the center of the arrangement.

traditional chest modern styling

the pink pagoda

A monochromatic white palette dominates this vignette, from the wall paneling to the shapely accents in an odd numbered arrangement; the purposeful use of white allows the piece to take the spotlight.

antique chest of drawers white objects

traditional home

You can’t go wrong with a pair of sleek lamps, partner them with a few smaller pieces of art in various scales and petite shapely objects, then add a touch of greenery.

traditional chest modern lamps

house seven

Simplicity is another approach, using a large scale mirror anchored by a pair of lamps with modern black shades. Prop another smaller piece of art in front and rotate a bowl of fruit or vase of fresh flowers weekly.

modern mirror lamps on traditional console

mark ashby design

Don’t overlook the opportunity to make a statement on the wall, beautiful grasscloth wallpaper and a glossy bamboo pagoda mirror add panache and a pair of ginger jar lamps introduces a lovely blue and white pattern.

wood buffet jessie miller

jessie d miller

Again a chinoiserie ginger jar always complements the style of the traditional chest, and an orchid in a polished silver champagne bucket adds an elegant touch. Above this chest hangs a mercury leaf mirror flanked by two gold leaf sconces, on top a smaller piece of abstract art and stack of books balances the vignette. 

ashley goforth traditional chest

ashley goforth design

What’s happening with the furniture around the traditional piece can also influence the styling. Below Tobi does an masterful job of layering blue accents in the form of books, artwork, and a lamp on this wood bedside chest, playing off the tones in the fabric on the headboard and wallpaper.

traditional wood bedside chest

tobi fairley

In Jana’s great room she styled her bookcase simply with varied book placement and floating artwork, but also notice the use of contemporary textiles to balance the traditional furniture in the room.

traditional bookcase

jana bek

This antique chest was modernized with lucite knobs then surrounded by a collection of art, and how fresh the space feels with that fabulous pink tufted chair off to the side. The styling on top is eclectic and fun, mixing a whimsical cachepot and fern with a unique sculptural lamp.

traditional chest lucite knobs

house beautiful

Pairing traditional wood furniture with contemporary accents can be done and successfully! How have you included antiques or heirlooms into your home’s design?

Ada’s Living Room Design Dilemma

Monday, April 20th, 2015

Ada’s email landed in my inbox last week and with it a design dilemma. She is looking for a new coffee table for her living room and also suggestions to spruce her space on a budget. Here are Ada’s questions:

"I need help choosing the right coffee table for my living room, the coffee table that I have is taller than the sofa and I think it doesn’t look good in the space. Should I go with a round table or maybe an ottoman? Also do you think adding some decorations in blue, teal, or green goes with the living room? Could you please help me, I’m on a budget and any suggestions are welcomed."

Ada’s living room already has some great pieces: the modern tufted sofa, the wingback chair, and leather accent chair form a great conversation area. The rug is the right size, and she has also brought in some yellow accents as well, it is warm and inviting but also very tan and neutral and could benefit from more color and pattern.

adas living room

Ada doesn’t necessarily needs a round coffee table since curved lines already exist in the wingback chair, leather chair, and side table. A coffee table in any shape will work whether rectangular, oval, or round, the issue is not so much the shape of the coffee table but the bulk of it. 

There are modern versions that possess clean lines and a slim profile and for under $350. Metallic finishes add glamour, wood brings warmth, any of these options are visually less heavy and would modernize the space.

modern coffee tables

latte lacquer / whitewashed mango / oval marble top / gold and glassoval wood top / white and chrome

 

The tufted sofa and wingback chair are more formal pieces so a coffee table is a good choice for this space however Ada could opt for a tailored upholstered ottoman to add softness or to introduce a new pattern.

ottoman options

chain link ottoman / navy ottoman / neutral ottoman / octagonal ottoman

 

She could bring in accent pillows in blues and greens or mix in any of these shapely lamps.

blue green lamps pillows

 

shibori pillow / gourd lamp / dwell pillow / posner pillow / blue ikat / white lamp / aqua lamp / blue green ikat / blue spots

 

More budget friendly suggestions for adding colorful detail to Ada’s living room:

1) Add colorful trim to store bought plain window panels, consider tassels, Greek key, a geometric fabric, or grosgrain ribbon. No sewing necessary with the use of fabric glue, hot glue, or fusible web bonding tape.

trimmed window panels

curtain trim ideas: love maegan / oakland avenue / recently 

       

2) Paint the side table so that it isn’t the same brown as the leather chair, perhaps an off white to coordinate with the wingback chair or a more vibrant color that plays off the accent pillows.

side table makeovers

white side table makeover / painted blue side table

 

3) Add a border to the rug with paint or fabric, add stripes with painter’s tape, or use a stencil for allover color.

stenciled rugs

striped painted rug / stenciled rug

 

4) Elevate the indoor plants with larger planters, or embellish the planter baskets with metallic or colorful paint.  

painted baskets

silver painted baskets / striped basket / ombre baskets

Have you recently spied any great coffee tables or decorative accents that Ada might add to her space? Feel free to share your suggestions!..