Interior Design with a “new” attitude
Interior Design with a “new” attitude
By Mary Courtney
The “new” attitude is “old” - When furnishing your home, no matter its age or architectural style, by including some very old pieces of furniture or decoration you will give it character, a history.
The contrast between modern and older or rustic and sleek enhances both. In a home that would be considered traditional, the addition of a few pieces of contemporary furniture or art can work beautifully. And, in a newer home, adding some features using re-purposed natural materials and objects will bring out a distinct quality and will give a sense of timelessness.
Whenever doing some renovations or redecorating, you have the opportunity to seek out some natural materials to incorporate in the design. Find some old wood to use for a new fireplace mantle or to create some beams in the ceiling. Search for a stunning old door for your entry and add a handsome lock set in bronze or old iron. Install wood flooring that comes from old sources, often from old installations as well as old forests, these are now readily available and gorgeous.
Old, used and worn stones or handmade tiles can add a patina and warmth that would be stunning as the floor in the entry. They could also be used as a wall surface, such as behind the stove area or as a divider between the kitchen and the family room. A “surprise” element in your design creates excitement. Another area that is most suitable would be an exterior patio or walkway. You might even create a table or bench from these stones.
Antique, or just “old” furniture can be given a new look by refinishing the frame and reupholstering with a contemporary fabric such as a tiger stripe chenille or perhaps an ”ikat” design on linen. A single chair can become a focal point in a room. Using a chrome and leather chair at an antique desk is a great look. Or to turn that around, an antique chair at a glass topped desk with steel legs.
Bring out your favorite pieces and see how they can be used in different ways to create a different look by changing the finish or upholstery. Honor your old things, give them a special place and let them be reminders of your history.
I love to see family photos displayed. There are so many possibilities for combining the framing with the picture and again you can take old photos and frame them in a modern style and they will draw your eye to where you will now see them in a new way.
I know I write about this a lot, but by mixing your styles you can actually create something very beautiful and personally unique. This is not what I would call “eclectic” but a careful choosing of a few good pieces to mix in with a style that has already been set.
In a very contemporary home in San Francisco with lots of glass and tall ceilings the addition of a few oversize objects was dramatic and pleasing. We used a large stone figure set on a low pedestal in one area and on a 20’ high wall seen as you entered the living space, we placed two enormous carved wood antique “Warrior” heads, one above the other. It became a very dramatic and interesting focal point in what would have been a too large open space in a prominent area. You can’t miss them and they are stunning. These had long been in storage and now had a place.
Most of what I have written about pertains to the interior of your home. Yet the exterior and the architectural elements offer many opportunities for incorporating older materials or styles. Just look all around, visit antique dealers and salvage yards and look for something that appeals to you, something that you want to reach out and touch. Our tactile senses instinctively tell us what we like to have around us. Then get creative and use it in your home.
Mary Courtney has been practicing Interior Design professionally for thirty-five years. Mary’s work takes her all over the country and she currently is based out of Sonoma. Mary may be contacted by phone at 707-721-6175, or firstname.lastname@example.org