Monday, 23 March 2020 16:28

How to: work antiques and vintage furniture into residential schemes

    As the Founder of online vintage furniture marketplace Vinterior, Sandrine Zhang Ferron knows a thing or two about sourcing vintage accessories and antique furniture for interior schemes. As well as an extensive direct-to-consumer portfolio, the innovative brand is also known for its trade work on high-end hospitality and residential projects. Given her knowledge of pre-loved vintage furniture specifications, Inex talked to Sandrine to find out her top tips for going vintage when designing residential interiors.

    Start with one piece

    Inspired by the blank canvas of a new home or room, it can be tempting to try and source everything in one go. However, my own experience taught me that choosing one piece at a time will let the room grow into its own more organically.

    It is not easy to envision how furniture will go together in situ – in time, you will be glad that you gave the space a chance to come together slowly. Leave room to chance and collect pieces you stumble upon on your travels. Trust your gut when you find a piece that speaks to you and savour the process as much as the end result.

    If you’re unsure on where to begin, find one statement piece that you really love and start there. This could be a sideboard or a sofa, a storage unit or even a coffee table. No pressure though – just because you opt for a 1950s sofa or an Art Deco sideboard does not mean subscribing to one aesthetic only. Note how the most inspiring spaces are intentionally eclectic – a creative melange of styles and eras.

    Nor must you necessarily start with a large piece of furniture. If you are in the process of discovering a style, start with a smaller find. This might be an antique plant pot or a beautiful teak Mid-Century mirror. One advantage of home decor is that you can eclectically mix and match styles to see what works, without too high an investment.

    Mix styles and eras

    The joy of buying vintage and antiques is the endless scope for creativity. Sticking slavishly to one period is the enemy of eclectic panache. Be bold and have fun experimenting with mixing old with new. Avoid an overly symmetrical layout weighed down by matchy-matchy furniture. Embrace imperfection. The room will come alive when rife with varied references to form, texture, material and colour.

    Trust your own tastes

    You do not need to follow trends. These change all the time and should not limit your fun when decorating an interior. Instead of conforming to a specific look that will likely be outdated in a couple of years, think about how you can create a timeless feel that connotes both past memories and future gatherings. And remember: a home should be a treasure trove, brimming with points of inspiration that speak uniquely to the homeowner – whether they meet with wider approval or not.

    Keep your accessories in view

    Every home has characterful accessories gathering dust hidden inside cabinets. Why not showcase a client’s favourite collection somewhere more accessible? Coffee tables and side tables are a great place for highlighting points of interest. Treat those as a moving shelf of sorts and make a habit of tinkering around with the most intriguing pieces. Play with indirect lighting to draw attention to them. These curiosities make for great conversation when homeowners are hosting.

    Embrace antiques in dark woods

    Darker woods, whether natural or ebonised, are not always an obvious choice. Forget old dictums about dark wood appearing too formal or austere. Much antique furniture champions a more dramatic depth of colour – think of gleaming woods such as rosewood, walnut and ebony. Darker tones create a space that is cosy and romantic yet evokes drama and elegance. These woods harness the advantage of maturing a roomscape full of lighter tones. A peppering of darker wood here and there does much to anchor a space. I have seen interiors where darker antiques pair with pale Mid-Century references to breath-taking effect. Coupled with dark walls – a deep blue or earthy green – dark wood antiques can add a sense of intrigue and sophistication to a room. Read on for advice on how to harmonise woods across a variety of tones.

    Become skilful at mixing wooden tones

    Wood is a wonderful, natural material to introduce into the home and its beauty lies in the limitless variety of tone and texture. How do you to avoid a clash of woods? Start by pinpointing a dominant tone. For example, the floorboards or perhaps a larger item of furniture. This major tone will then provide a useful guide by which to select other pieces. Why do this? Matching undertones creates a subtle yet impacting sense of continuity. Ensure that other wooden accents belong to the same tonal family. This means paying attention to the colour temperature: is the dominant wood tone cool or warm? For instance, pale ash is cooler than rosy walnut. You can also increase visual interest by playing with contrasting tonal depths. People often attempt to match exact tones but avoid this – the end result can look very outdated. Champion diversity.

    Tie a room together with vintage rugs

    If the home you’re working on embodies a lot of wood, it can quickly become too much – particularly if you are blessed with wooden floors. Combat this by breaking up the space with a vibrant antique Persian rug or a vintage bohemian Beni Ourain. Throws and cushions will do much to add colour and texture to complement wooden features. Kilims, in particular, are celebrated for both their tough, flat-woven durability and vivid palettes.

    When choosing the rug size, a good tip is to imagine that your furniture is floating. The rug acts as a ‘raft’ to tie it all together – furniture should just overlap the border as if it is holding onto the rug.

    Find practical pieces

    I love the alchemical flair of warmth and character abundant in spaces woven with vintage finds. However, a home should not feel like a museum or ‘propped out’. Sometimes, we splurge on a historical piece or a designer creation, and the homeowner does not dare to touch it for fear of damaging it. I believe that furniture and decorative objects should be both beautiful and practical. Source functional antique and vintage alternatives for a pleasing, tactile experience – perhaps a Victorian daybed or Mid-Century cutlery. These pieces are so well made, using solid, long-lasting materials. They are – usually – comfortable too. Aim to create a home that feels collected and curated, which you can also enjoy every day.


    “The joy of buying vintage and antiques is the scope for creativity. Sticking slavishly to one period is the enemy of eclectic panache.”

    – SANDRINE ZHANG FERRON, Vinterior Founder

    About Sandrine:

    After a three-month stint trying to find the perfect Scandi yellow chair, Sandrine became fed up with trawling markets and vintage dealer showrooms. She thought that there must be a better, less time-consuming way of sourcing vintage and antique furniture – and so the Vinterior concept was born.

    Quitting her job in finance, Sandrine learned coding to build the platform that would translate her vision into reality and would pave the way to connecting buyers to sellers. Today that means connecting buyers with over 150,000 different pieces of furniture, lighting and decorative objects that are now available to buy.

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    Inex magazine and its complementary website is the ultimate specification resource for design professionals working in both the domestic and commercial marketplaces.

    Exclusive, cutting-edge content is delivered to inform and inspire esteemed professionals on a whole host of topics and discussions impacting the industry.

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