Design: Incorporating Antiques in modern design & style tips

Interested in keeping your mid-century or post-modern home design interesting? Consider using antiques. In addition to adding a hint of eclectic chic to the mix, antique furniture and collectibles provide texture, a change of lines and angles or a level of artistry and craftsmanship that simply isn't available via contemporary furnishings.

Designer Tip: If you're wary of mix-and-matching furnishings on your own, take advantage of hourly consults with an interior designer. It's the insider's route to achieving just the right look for both stylish and functional living spaces.

Tips for Incorporating Antique Furniture into Your Modern Design

There are plenty of ways to incorporate heirloom pieces - or recent estate sale finds - into your modern homescape in ways that enhance the current design. 

Repurpose the piece(s) for a refreshed purpose

That antique desk might not work in your home office, but it might look perfect when repurposed as a bathroom vanity. Complete with a vessel sink and modern accents, you'll wind up with a much more interesting bathroom design. Quaint end tables or nightstands make superb foundations for a modern vase and flower arrangement, a plant or your art deco lamp.

Creative thinking turns antique furnishings into modern design enhancers.

Mix antique bottoms with modern tops, and vice versa

Don't be afraid to pair antique and modern furnishings. As mentioned above, you can place a modern lamp on a valuable French provincial furnishing, or enjoy the results of contemporary end tables paired with stunning Tiffany lamps. This is a simple way to merge old and new without any worries of a disjointed effect.

Designer Tip: Look through an existing finish to the piece's underlying shape and lines. Original (or previously touched-up) finishes can always be preserved, restored or altered to fit your color/design scheme.

Use colorful antique crockery 

Antique ceramics, china, vases, and crockery draw the eye - who can resist those gorgeous colors and patterns? They are ideal accents for open shelving, behind glass cabinet doors and displayed on hutches and entryway tables. 

Best of all, antique accents are a simple way to change color, patterns, and seasonal decor in any design without having to make major interior design changes.

Treat yourself to an antique reading chair

Have a favorite reading nook or cozy area in your home? Treat yourself to an antique wingback or club chair. In most cases, these older chairs have better "bones" than any chair on the contemporary market. If it's comfy but shabby, reupholster it to complement a current design and it will look wonderful next to your modern side table and bookcase.

Add a contrasting accent to a minimal design

Most modern design enthusiasts shy away from traditional or antique motifs because they prefer sleek and minimal to ornate or busy. Keep in mind, though, that without any contrast and texture, minimal designs are visually boring.

This is where antiques come into play. 


  • An antique floor lamp in your minimalist living room.
  • One amazing antique accent on an otherwise empty fireplace hearth.
  • A suspended antique chandelier or light fixture above a kitchen island, dining room or your freestanding soak tub.

Rethink what it means to be "antique"

Often, modernists hear antique and automatically envision ornate, frilly or hyper-embellished. In fact, the word antique is a general one,  used to describe furnishings, art, and fixtures from a mix of eras - meaning you have a considerable array of antique design styles to choose from.

Interested in enhancing your modern interior design with upscale antiques? Get in touch with us and we'll direct you to the best estate sales in and around Santa Barbara County.

chad ratliffe