Kings of Chelsea

Jeanneret Chairs

The inspiring use of antiques and vintage in Interior Schemes

There’s absolutely nothing new in the “recycling” of old and vintage items into the interiors of private houses and public interiors. As early as the Renaissance, it was extremely prestigious to have Roman or Greek statuary in a contemporary home, indeed, the art of the day was predominantly influenced and inspired by these works. Huge prestige was attached to having “authentic” sculpture and fragmental remains mounted on walls or in display rooms. Of course, like today, this was not the only way of doing things, and a “modern” or “new” interior was also considered incredibly aspirational. Just as each individual has their own taste and judgement and preference for the environment around them, style and fashion has evolved and transmuted over time.

In the 18th century there was also a fashion for homes of taste in the UK and across Europe to be filled with antiquities, as testament to the discernment of the homeowner. The craze for all things “Grand Tour” (the wealthy began to travel like never before especially to Greece and Italy) meant that most country houses contained ancient artefacts but also commissioned pieces from the trendsetters of the day such as Chippendale, Hepplewhite and Sheraton.

In this respect, not a great deal has really changed, as a quick flick through a style magazine such as Architectural Digest or Elle Decoration will prove. Many of the most respected Interior Designers of today have a deep and respectful knowledge of both antiques (technically anything over 100 years old) and “vintage or classic” design (pretty much everything else). Look at a scheme created by Axel Vervoordt or the late Christian Liaigre and you will see the inclusion of many extraordinary older pieces, often chosen for their character and sculptural qualities. Another design trick loved by the new generation of designers is to integrate tribal art, which offers wonderful scope for individual and quirky forms.

The great advantage of older pieces is often the depth of colour and tone to wood, marble and plaster, that is almost impossible to achieve with contemporary skills. Similarly, ancient crafts and techniques have been lost over time, that simply would not be possible to reproduce today. In addition, the sheer cost of making something of equivalent quality would be absolutely impossible.

When we suggest going down this path to clients, there is of course, one other great advantage to using antiques and vintage, and that is the question of individuality and indeed, uniqueness. Interior Designers are always on the lookout for one-off pieces or rare examples of a piece they haven’t seen before. There is certainly a prestige to having something that no-one else has, the only one being in your home! Prices at auction for such things are rising high, and there is huge competition for the unusual and different.

Additionally, in this day and age, to re-use, re-cycle or reappropriate something that already exists is environmentally sound and of benefit to the greater good.

Older pieces can be a very pleasing way to express the character and personality of the owner, and we would really encourage clients new to this approach to speak to us about how our experts can help you and advise if you are unsure or slightly cautious.