The house I grew up in was a small grade 2 listed Priest Cottage bursting with history and character, My mother had filled it with interesting antiques. We only had one new piece of furniture in the whole house - a laminated blue coffee table in my bedroom. My mother collected and traded in antiques and so did all her friends, it wasn't just our furniture but a way of life. It would be fair to say I was immersed in them and they are still something I have a great passion for.
The world of Antiques has changed a lot since my childhood. A decade ago we believed antiques a great investment but since we have watched the bottom drop out of the market. In the last 10 years the cost of retro G-Plan soared, while you can’t give a Georgian Pembroke table away. Being an antique dealer used to be a profitable business but the market has changed considerably with many dealers switching to Retro or leaving the industry. However when it’s not a sellers’ market it is a great time to be a buyer.
antique furniture integrated into a modern Smartstyle design in Tunbridge Wells
Many people are unsure about putting antiques into their interiors as they love a clean contemporary room, but before you think this isn’t the furniture for you I urge you to look again. Antiques are muscling their way back in. The design term “Classic Contemporary” has been introduced, capturing that combination of traditional and modern. I love to balance design schemes using some on trend new pieces with beautiful old pieces. I find that the old pieces bring the character to the room. Quite often in clients rooms these pieces are inherited so they come with significant personal history.
a vintage pharmacy cabinet & antique bottles as beautiful vases in this Smartstyle design
When implementing I like to think outside- the - box and use objects in an unusual way. By doing this you can get over the fussy image that some of these pieces have and make them fun and fresh. Here I have used an old pharmacy cabinet for a glass and drinks cabinet.
Small decorative items are great to play with. Instead of hiding family silver away get it out for everyday use. Silver vanity trays are great for pulling a collection together and create bigger impact on a surface. I have used an inherited tray to display this collection of spring blossoms.
Zoe Brewer from My Interior Stylist has created this gorgeous “Daphne” Bed, by using contemporary paint colours and these amazing felt flowers. The bed has escaped its heavy wood past and become fresh and feminine.
If you’re new to the antique hunt and not sure what you should be looking for there are a few key pieces I’m seeing pop up in interiors. The big one right now is the return of Rocco style Victoria furniture. They have very elaborate carvings and shapes which make them superb stand out pieces. Bring them up-to-date with on trend paint colours and contemporary upholstery fabrics. Some other popular treasures are Star burst mirrors, trunks for coffee tables and industrial items used for decoration.
simple catch-all for jewellery and makeup on the vanity
For smaller items I love Art Deco glass dressing tables sets, very girly and frivolous but also useful.
The thing about buying old is that it is full of charm and a unique find. The quest to find the right item from auctions, fairs, freecycle and beyond, makes it more of an adventure than going to John Lewis. You already have a history with your furniture before you even get it home. I always buy with my heart and the value is in the price that I’m happy to pay. If you change your mind you can normally sell it for at least the same as you purchased it, it is the ultimate recycling. So give an antique a new lease of life!
a gem of a find in an antique shop