Living with Antiques - It's all about the Mix

Living with Antiques - It's all about the Mix

Huff Harrington Design Reveals a Living Room Installation Reading Living with Antiques - It's all about the Mix 6 minutes Next Bonjour, Y'all!

We've got a barrage of containers arriving soon at Huff Harrington, filled to brim with goodies that our clients purchased on buying trips with us - as well as plenty of our own loot.

Staking out some 1960s chairs at the flea market in Paris. 

We LOVE getting containers and as we unload them (now happily protected from the elements in our fancy new warehouse), it's like greeting long-lost friends.  It's usually a day or two of sheer mayhem while we try to find the perfect spot in the store for a vignette but we all love the mess, madness and excitement.

This is what container day looked like before we got our fancy warehouse.  Luckily, this particular day was nice.  Usually, we'd get a foot of rain or an inch of ice on container day.

We like our store vignettes to shout out our philosophy: it's gotta be all about the mix.  We think we've mastered the perfect formula that seems to work for us every time:  the perfect furniture marriage is something old next to something new.

Tips and tidbits we swear by:

Every room needs a good antique. There, we said it. Hopefully, it's a piece with a gorgeous patina and pretty legs but maybe it's something beaten up and crunchy. Once you have that in place, you can play off the oldness with plenty of newness.

I've always loved this shot: it's from Ann's place in Atlanta (before she moved to Paris!) and stars an inherited, burled walnut commode. I adore the 18th-century mirror above it but especially love the way she paired a contemporary black velvet pouf and a sexy armchair with it. Photo: Cat Max Photography.

It's okay to mix centuries. We love pretty much all the centuries and all the Louis's but a refined and stately Louis XVI piece, is our favorite.  The surprise is always in the presentation.  Place your elegant and simple Louis Sixteen next to a sassy, bold art deco piece or anything new, sleek and modern. Make it fun and remember: there are no rules.

This is a happy collison of centuries. For a Home for the Holidays showhouse, we paired a sleek 1960s acrylic console with the crunchiest and very peely Louis XVI chair. 

It's okay to mix your woods. We are nuts about French fruitwood but have also seen spectacular examples of ebony, mahogany and the rich, rich tones of French walnut. Don't be afraid to play one off the other - just make sure you have some contrast. 

And add some painted furniture in there, too.  I'll never, ever forget an 18-century buffet Ann and I found in the south of France. It was the most gorgeous shade of blue/gray/green with old, peeling gold trim.  Its doors sagged ever so slightly but I fell madly in love with it and we ended up paying a fortune for it. After some time starring at the store, it found a happy home in a lovely, elegant room, lit by a sparkly chandelier and anchored by a pair of clean-lined, modern armchairs.  Paint adds character and patina.

An early 1920s Italian painted commode. Doesn't this look great with the abstract painting perched on it?

We love how this black painted 19th-century chest grounds this corner. We added modern brass cylindrical lamps and an organic plaster mirror just for fun.

Ann spotted this incredibly unusual chinoiserie style chest at an antiques fair in France. I think we literally leapt over fellow buyers to get our hands on it. We couldn't live without it. It lasted about two days at Huff Harrington before it was snapped up by a lucky client.

It doesn't have to have a pedigree.  This is our favorite rule of thumb. Just love it. And if you found it on your travels, even better. We love the history and gravitas of life that antiques bring to the table - not to mention the emotional pull and tug of inherited pieces. 

We loved this humble, painted chest when we unearthed it in France. Back at HH, it looked great paired with a minimalist abstract by Maura Segal.

Mix and match. This is where it gets fun. We like to look at an antique and say, “okay, what’s this piece about?”  If it’s all about curvy legs, we’ll introduce companion pieces that are straight or angular.  If it’s painted, we’ll find something with a clean and smooth finish.  A fabulous, gilt-encrusted console? Great!  Add very clean, modern lamps and an edgy painting et voila!

Appreciate the details.  Sometimes you just have to stop to admire the workmanship and detail that went into creating an antique.  Processes that are hard to find today - or maybe don't even exist anymore - created pieces that are still beautiful and functional today.

Exquisite workmanship and artistry on an 18th-century trumeau.

Let the accessories do all the talking: shake it all up with some fresh, modern accessories, like lamps, sculptural pieces or anything that’s a conversation-starter. Your beautiful antique buffet or table will be a lovely backdrop.


And last but not least:

Have fun with your antiques:  they can be just like your beloved and crazy great aunt – eccentric but very lovable.  In short, living with old pieces always reminds us that  an antique’s greatest gift to us is to bring the past to the present.

This was a funny horse head made out of driftwood that we found at a fair in France.  We thought it was playful and we had fun with it.

The store is brimming with all kinds of fab pieces that we picked up recently and we can’t wait to show them off to you.  Come on by if you're in the 'hood (or in Paris, where we have lots of antiques, art, mirrors and lighting, too!)


Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.