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