How to Update a Home with Antiques / by Margaret Chambers

There are many reasons Dallas homeowners today love their antiques. Original antiques are usually hand-made with high-quality craftsmanship; with proper care, an antique can last for generations. Antiques also bring their decades, or even centuries, of history into your home. Ask any antique seller about their wares and you'll hear the story behind each piece. And unlike many other used furnishings, an antique will only go up in value over time.

That said, the most popular styles of interior design today are contemporary, modern, and transitional. Rooms are increasingly becoming simple, light, and airy. Some collectors worry that filling their home with antiques can make the space feel too dated. If you've been meaning to update your traditional interior design, here are some tips to help freshen things up.

  We incorporated antiques into this University Park bedroom while also using simple drapes, clean lines, and neutral tone-on-tone colors. The result is a room both classical and refreshingly modern.

We incorporated antiques into this University Park bedroom while also using simple drapes, clean lines, and neutral tone-on-tone colors. The result is a room both classical and refreshingly modern.

If you have heavy drapes with ornamented rods in your home, it's probably time for an update. The current trend is to use very simple rods with little ornamentation. Curtains and drapes should be in solid colors or subtle tone-on-tone patterns, with simple trim. Meanwhile, antique upholstery with solid color fabric, or a geometric design, will fit in better than upholstery with a traditional pattern.

An oriental rug with vividly contrasting colors will usually be out of place in a modern home. Roll up your older rugs for now and replace them with sisal rugs, which are popular for their textural quality, or muted oriental rugs.

  This sitting room features a sisal rug with a geometric design.

This sitting room features a sisal rug with a geometric design.

Lamps should have clean silhouettes and simple shades, preferably in white. Lucite bases are also a popular choice for lamps in contemporary design.

White, tan, and gray are common neutral wall colors, but if you prefer color, go with pastel shades. Lacquered walls with bright colors are a bolder new trend, and wallpaper is coming back as well. Make sure to choose a contemporary, graphic print for wallpaper instead of a traditional pattern.

For today's transitional and contemporary homes, decluttering is key. Pare down your collections to your favorite statement items, displaying only one or two on each surface. You can always put away your other collectibles and cycle them back out when the seasons change.

You can highlight the craftsmanship and classic design of your antiques by contrasting them with modern pieces. A brightly colored piece of contemporary art will play off wonderfully against an antique chest, sofa, or mantelpiece beneath it.

  This contemporary painting in a downtown Dallas high-rise matches the earth tones of the items and chest of drawers beneath it.

This contemporary painting in a downtown Dallas high-rise matches the earth tones of the items and chest of drawers beneath it.

If all of these suggestions make you feel overwhelmed, try looking for inspiration in magazines. Save photos of rooms that combine antiques with modern design, focusing on your favorite elements. Instead of updating one item or area at a time, plan out your overall color scheme for each room. You can then use your color scheme as a guide for picking wall colors, fabrics, accents, art, and rugs.

In this process, you will probably find that you cannot keep all of the antiques in your collection. Hold onto your favorite and most valuable pieces, then store, pass down, or get rid of those that are too dated. You can always reupholster furniture to update its look. Also consider that some styles of antiques will fit in better with modern surroundings than others. Asian, Swedish, and Neoclassical antiques are currently in style, for example.

Even if contemporary and transitional interior design are all the rage, antiques add just as much charm and classical detail to a room today as ever. An experienced designer will know how to incorporate your best antiques into a room, while appealing to modern day design trends.