Antiques are out of fashion – contrast and collaboration across eras.

By Alan Hughes,Interior Design,May 20, 2020

Photo Credit : Every effort was made to source the photographer for this image but proved unsuccessful.
The only reference available was to the Website Mad About the House, Kate Watson Smith.


Is there a future for antique furniture? This is an interesting question in an era that prides itself on taking sustainability seriously, but if we set aside the moral high ground for a moment to consider the interest in antiques, who actually buys them?  The more typical view of a house that uses antique furniture is perhaps the stately home or the realms of the financially stable upper middle classes that fancy the odd bit of brown furniture with designer gravitas. This view suggests a small market and is perhaps the issue when asking if such furniture is still relevant.

There are two ways to look at antique furniture, the first as something expensive and of an age and quality that is deserving of admiration and the second is just to see it as furniture, albeit designedand made by craftsmen. If you take the latter view, then the audience for such furniture could potentially be wider and the antique business more wide-ranging.

Buyers new to the market, perhaps suspicious of elevated prices and ‘not knowing enough” need to firstly ask the question, what am I looking for? If you need storage, then something off the shelf from a modern furniture supplier may well be more expensive than some solid cabinetry from a bygone age. Of course, the scale and dimensions of older furniture will need to be considered as it is asked to adapt to a smaller house and a modern use but if you look around there are any number of solutions that can work.

In choosing suitable older furniture it is a good idea to have an idea of how it might link or contrast with your space and the furniture you already own. Often creating a sense of contrast is a good idea, for example using a decoratively carved mirror in a sleek clean-cut space is often the best way to showcase both elements to their best advantage.

When considering a piece of furniture, you need to ask yourself why do you want it, what can it be used for, what is the relationship to what you already have and how does it connect? Keep a check on your magpie eye and use your sense of practicality; recognising the purpose the piece will fulfil in your space increases its ‘personal’ value. You need to do a little research. If you can ask the dealer relevant questions you are more than likely to get relevant answers.

Once the purchase is made, what does the antique bring to a space? A sense of contrast, a decorative depth, wonderful materials and hopefully quality craftsmanship. All this plus the joy of owning a piece that has seen some history. An object that has been owned and has survived over time imparts a real sense of its former life and as such connects the current owner with a chain of humanity sometimes going back centuries. It may also prove something you can pass on through your family and into the future.