Posts Tagged ‘decorating’

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?

Embracing the Dark Side

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Today is Color Day on the ol’ blog and this morning I posted about my favorite hue which is blue.  This afternoon, contributing writer and interior designer Courtney from Courtney Out Loud is back to share his thoughts on color, specifically the darker shades in the spectrum. 

Having taken the plunge and introduced a dark paint color into our own home (the powder room) earlier this year, I have a new found affection for dark painted walls, especially ones with whites and creams layered in for contrast, burnished metallic sheens, and richly patterned or rustic wood accents.  The combination makes me want to curl up with a good book and a cup of tea in these enveloping spaces. 

Please welcome back Courtney and his interview with a noted color expert on how to embrace the dark side… of paint!

“Nina Simone sang that black is the color of her true love’s hair and for me it is the color that I love most.  Something about this inky hue draws me in, settles my mind, and puts me at ease.  Clients typically come to me craving color which I am happy to deliver in all its rainbow glory but when left to my own devices, a smoky grey, nocturnal purple or saturated brown will always catch my eye.

Historically, these darker hues have been linked to nefarious activities and sinister deeds, but color research shows that the dark hues like their lighter cousins can elicit a range of reactions from relaxation to revitalization. Curious to know more about my infatuation with dark colors and how to best use them in my designs, I turned to Jean Molesworth Kee, noted architectural color consultant based in Washington, D.C. and the author of the highly regarded blog, The Painted Room.

Nate Berkus and Anne Coyle in Elle Decor

Nate Berkus in Elle Decor

Being a designer, I was bit hesitant to ask for help in understanding how to best use dark colors in spaces – let’s be honest, people pay me to help them with their overall design of which color plays a large part.  Fortunately, Jean shared that many designers as well as lay people use her services which begged me to ask…what is that that she exactly does.

“I do have a highly specialized niche, which is a luxury (not having to deal with building codes)!  Most of my work is residential– working with homeowners who want to make a change but are just spinning in the “color vortex”.

Rugo Raff Ltd. Architects

Rugo Raff Architects

That “color vortex” is something I know all too often from my own work with clients. That moment when clients need to make a paint decision many times feel like the longest part of the process.  Creating the proper background from which to anchor the design is essential and how I see paint selection. 

However, I know how difficult it is to deal with coaching design clients through the process, so I asked how it is to work with a second party (aka designers like me) and surprisingly, Jean enjoys that collaborative process.  “My ideal project involves collaboration with architects and designers on the ground floor but I’m usually working with a lot of design elements already in place.”

dark bookcases cochrane design

Cochrane Design

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