The coolest style in decorating these days is to … mix styles.
Traditional and contemporary often go hand in hand. Think about abstract art with an upholstered chair, or an 18th century canvas wallpaper with a lamp from the 80s. The appeal is in the pleasant tension between the styles; sophisticated, artistic, yet livable.
The latest flashback trend comes, as usual, from pop culture. Frenzy-worthy TV series like “Outlander” and “Bridgerton” have inspired Pinterest boards filled with tartan pillows, William Morris designs, deer antler lighting, copper tubs, silver chandeliers and meridians. Wave a feathered fan at “Regencycore”.
What “Mad Men” did for mid-century modernity, these recent period series did for the early 19th-century aesthetic, characterized by items such as upholstered sofas, oversized mirrors, chandeliers, gold accents and colorful floral or oriental prints.
Modern elements temper the hustle and bustle of ruffles and fur stockings while showcasing their features and allowing you to create personal spaces that aren’t stuck in one style.
“It’s always a balancing act to find the right amount of each character to include in a piece,” says Cynthia Byrnes, founder of a New York-based online art gallery and curator. . “Some would not recommend placing a heavy French Baroque console under contemporary photography.
“But if the scale, the colors and the architecture complement each other, then anything is possible.”
KEEP WHAT’S FRESH
Designers don’t want to shave off every “old” feature in a project. Rather than stripping the rooms of the studs, they often keep the original architectural details and then add modern elements and furnishings.
Claire Paquin from Clean Design Partners in Scarsdale, New York, brought touches of berry, salmon and ebony to the current in a freshly whitewashed Tudor living room via curvy modern seating, cushions, and artwork, but retained the graceful floor-to-ceiling windows in pearl glass.
In Brooklin, Maine, John Ike of New York-based design firm Ike Kligerman Barkley purchased the old building from the Order of Odd Fellows, updating the 1895 structure while retaining many exterior and interior features. The third floor living space has the original painted ceilings, crown moldings, and deeply recessed windows, but Ike filled it with contemporary Italian furniture, a tube lighting sculpture by Kartell, and reproductions of Ico Prisi signs found in a street market. Modern elements serve to enhance historical elements rather than diminish them.
If you’re tackling your own remodel and want to introduce a vintage element, consider adding damask pattern tiles to a signature backsplash or wall; Artaic The Dramati glass mosaic is worth a visit. Indigenous trails has a hand-hammered copper tub, which Daphne Bridgerton would surely have appreciated.
Chandeliers have their own moment as part of this trend; look for the traditional clear glass or go for an all-black version from Schonbek’s Hamilton chandelier, or House of Hampton’s a multicolored.
In his showroom in West Palm Beach, Florida, designer Jim Dove placed L’Eden de Gournay wallpaper, with an enchanting forest scene, behind a protective sheet of glass. L’Atelier Paris’ the kitchen range adds another refined element of French country house; bespoke white cabinets, a sleek white worktop, and luxe upholstered chairs give it a modern feel.
For her room at Kip’s Bay Show House 2019, designer Young Huh paired a plush 18th-century taste bench with a heavy Italian marble dining table and antique wing chair. The walls brought everything back to the present, however, with several pieces from the gallery by Cynthia Byrnes, and Fromental Large-scale Braque wallpaper of cubist inspiration. The finished piece is sophisticated and playful.
Byrnes says there is a trick to getting this look right.
“When mixing contemporary art with period furniture, it’s important to take into account the scale and character of each room,” Byrnes explains. “There are certain periods and styles of antique furniture that easily blend in with contemporary artwork. Like the clean lines, marble and airy gilding of Swedish neoclassical pieces. Classical Chinese Ming-style huanghuali furniture; and, here in the space of Young’s show house, the sophisticated grandeur of 18th-century French shepherdesses.
Brittney Herrera, interior designer and founder of the online store Wildwood House, in Portland, Oregon, suggests, “Pairing a modern table lamp in a moody hue with a traditional rug in the same tone will create a look that is expertly organized and infused with style.” Furnishing a room with traditional artwork, a contemporary take on a 17th-century cane chair, or an avant-garde dining table adds not only interest but also depth.
Front and back yards can also benefit from a mix of styles, says Fernando Wong, a Miami-based landscape designer..
“I always try to mix the contemporary with the traditional,” he says, citing a project where he used “a vintage rattan furniture set from Bonacina., one of Italy’s oldest furniture makers, was bought at auction by Brooke Astor’s estate and paired it with a gorgeous new McKinnon & Harris beverage cart. Throw in some majestic French Anduze urns from a garden antique store like Authentique Provence, and you’re on to something pretty awesome.
Kim Cook writes frequently for The AP on topics related to design, decor and lifestyle. She can be found on Instagram at @kimcookhome and reached at [email protected]