The San Diego area is home to numerous historical structures, built with an architectural style that exemplifies a bygone era. They are beautiful to look at and a worthwhile investment to own. But just because you live or work in a historical building doesn’t mean you must fill the interior with antiques. There are ways to incorporate contemporary furnishings that don’t look out of place. Here are our tips for combining old and new.
The most comfortable homes are those in which not all the furnishings and accessories “match” in regards to period and style. It’s perfectly fine – and even preferable – to use your favorite family heirlooms in conjunction with modern pieces. For instance, a foyer with wainscoted walls and a large, transom-topped door looks great when illuminated by a modern light fixture; a contemporary console table such as the Odette to hold a lamp, a dish for keys and the day’s mail along with a striking mirror help finish it off.
Go Big with Contemporary Pieces
Just because they are set in a turn-of-the-century room doesn’t mean the big pieces – bed, sofa, chairs, tables – need to be antique. A contemporary leather sofa looks lovely in almost any setting, but especially so in a historic living area. A pair of matched or mismatched arm chairs of modern style, a low glass coffee table, and a modern rug of muted tones and circular shape, such as the Fiorenza rug, make a dramatic yet comfortable seating arrangement in front of a fireplace or bay window.
Contemporary Color and Texture
The colors you choose in your historic home or office can also make a big impact on the overall style of its rooms. Traditional interior design incorporates darker tones and heavier textures. Try the unexpected by painting walls and architectural features in a single shade of white or gray. Accent it with black accessories and pops of bright color via pillows, lampshades and a few accessories. This works surprisingly well in older dwellings which usually feature a lot of dark-stained wood and provides the perfect backdrop for a collection of antique pieces that creates a striking focal point amidst your contemporary furnishings. And by varying the textures and patterns in the room, a monochromatic color scheme becomes exciting and fresh.
Keep in mind organic design when it comes to textures. Wood and metal go together exceptionally well in an older home, such as placing a metal-based chair or table on a rustic wooden floor. Metal sculptures and glass vases look right at home on a vintage mantel. A long dining room will look appear less clunky and “heavy” with a table topped by glass, such as the Targa dining table, or one supported by an angular metal frame, like the Spyder dining table.
The key to marrying contemporary style with historic architecture is balance. Comfortable and cozy reigns when neither antique nor modern style overwhelms the space. Use the things you love first and build rooms around those pieces, adding big, contemporary furnishings and brightening the colors to lighten the mood.