How many of us moved out of the family home with a large budget to spend on houseware and furniture? How many of us moved out of the family home with an eclectic mix of family hand-me-downs that are finally released from the garage: auntie’s table, great-uncle’s sideboard, or grandma’s dining chairs? To hazard a guess, the second option is more than likely the most representative scenario; however, the great intention of helping you start your journey into your new life can be a double-edged sword: these items with their associated familial history, have unintentionally become family heirlooms the minute you loaded them into your van.
As time goes by, and you have moved (perhaps several times) to a new house, your budget and style will have developed, but you still have the heirlooms. A problem now arises: you love the heirlooms, you love the stories behind them, but they make you feel swamped by antiquity. To get rid of the furniture would create cataclysmic upset amongst the family, and whilst your budget for homeware has certainly increased, it does not stretch to replacing all the furniture that has lived with you and your family for all these years. What can be done? The answer to this quandary is to mix it up. The addition of carefully chosen pieces of contemporary furniture can transform the feel of a house from a furniture graveyard to a palace of considered eclectic stand out pieces. In spite of the traditional features of great-uncle’s sideboard, it will sit very comfortably next to a contemporary modular sofa.
Hudson Valley based stylist Peter Frank considers that successful pairing of styles is reliant upon contrasts “Mix hard with soft, square with round, blocky with leggy”.
The mixing up or contrasting of styles can be further developed by reupholstering Grandma’s chairs with more modern textiles to complement the color scheme, and project your leap to contemporary interior design. In response to environmental concerns over the past few years, upcycling has become increasingly fashionable and arguably a necessity for some. There is lots of information on the internet to provide fresh ideas and inspiration for pieces of furniture that you may wish to refresh; however, there is always the potential for you to move from a furniture graveyard to that of a house full of half finished, sub-standard renovation projects. Upcycling requires a certain degree of self-control; you must not run before you can walk, or you may ruin the piece of furniture you are working on. You also need a finely tuned awareness as to the limits of your skills: you may be great at painting walls, but trompe l’oeil maybe a step too far.
The key to attaining an interiors look that you are happy with is balance: balance between the traditional and the contemporary, balance between the designed and the upcycled, and a balance between the aesthetically pleasing and the practical. Your home environment should give you joy, and once you achieve the balance you will feel it.