Using fine antiques in contemporary interiors

Incorporating fine antiques into contemporary interiors enhances a room, say antique dealers Charlie Mackinnon and May Geolot of Mackinnon Fine Furniture in London’s St James’s.

We asked them to create a gallery highlighting five of their favourite ways current interior designers are successfully presenting the look. May says, “Antique furniture can enhance the look of a modern room because of its character, history, and design. These incredible interiors show just how spectacular antiques work within the contemporary home.”

Timeless Chinoiserie

Antique furniture interior by Olasky and Sinsteden

Olasky & Sinsteden is a fantastic interior design duo led by Catherine Olasky and Max Sinsteden from a gorgeous office on the Upper East Side of New York. For this Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse, Olasky & Sinsteden designed a bedroom full of colour, texture, and elegant furniture. Our eyes were immediately drawn to the black japanned commode between the canopied beds.

Japanning, the European version of lacquer work, is often done on a dark background and highlighted with decorative scenes in golden hues. The taste for Chinoiserie was at the height of fashion in the Eighteenth century, and the incorporation of a japanned piece in this setting reflects its timeless quality – equally perfect for a contemporary setting as it was two hundred years ago.

Regency appeal

Antique furniture in private residence

Thomas Pheasant is a world renowned interior designer from Washington, DC who has created timeless interiors for his clients for over thirty years. For this residence in Middleburg, Virginia, Thomas presents a design that reflects elegant restraint, focusing on a central focal point within the room.

We love the octagonal Regency writing table, with its bold brass mounts, which holds an armillary sphere. The botanical pressed ferns on the back wall provide a pleasant background and are framed in rich wooden frames that echo the furniture in the room.

Picture Perfect

Antique furniture by Devas Designs

Philippa Devas is at the helm of Devas Designs, an interior design firm based in London. Philippa trained at Colefax & Fowler and at Chester Jones before starting her own firm in 1998. She is renowned for her exceptional use of art within interiors, whether it be a London townhouse or country cottage.

For this townhouse in Belgravia, Philippa thoughtfully selected antique furniture to display amongst a collection of Old Master drawings. The richness of the mahogany commode with its marquetry detail works well with the various framed pictures. The elaborate Baroque style giltwood stand with its bold carving and sinuous curves stands in contrast with the rectilinear lines of the mahogany commode – all together, the room works brilliantly.

Asian influence

Antique furniture in contemporary dining room by Margaret Kirkland Interiors

Margaret Kirkland of Margaret Kirkland Interiors is a fantastic designer based in Atlanta, Georgia with a keen eye for creating classic and elegant interiors full of antique furniture, textiles, and objects. Margaret designed this traditional dining room, which features traditional chinoiserie influences.

The wallpaper recalls the famous Chinese wallpaper from Georgian country houses in England, including the Chinese Drawing Room at Temple Newsam and the Chintz bedroom at Harewood House. The Chippendale style dining chairs with the lattice back design complement the decor beautifully. The stunning red painted door with its Asian inspired trellis carving adds the perfect colour accent.

Sense of Styles

Antique furniture in modern interior by Mr Call Designs

Finally, we thought we would look at a project designed by Jon Call of Mr Call Designs in New York. Jon is particularly skilled at bringing together different design styles and cultures into a single interior. For a living room in Chelsea, Jon places a French giltwood mirror amongst mid-century lamps and an English Regency sofa, which all come together harmoniously.

Reflecting on her choice, May comments, “We are always delighted to see interior designers championing historic design. Their work demonstrates that these pieces have lasting value and a timeless quality that makes them suitable for interiors in the past, today, and in the future.”


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