The art of mixing periods and styles may sound daunting but it doesn’t have to be. Whether you’ve inherited a few antique pieces from family members, scored a midcentury modern coffee table at the local vintage store, or picked up a woodtrimmed tub chair from the sidewalk, it’s fairly simple to make them work with contemporary decor. In fact, these pieces actually enhance that clean-lined interior and give it a layer of complexity, richness and visual interest. I refer to these mixes as “moving forward while looking back.”
All it requires is an open mind about what goes with what — plus a measure of adventure — to create an incredibly dynamic room.
While I wouldn’t say you have to follow strict rules, there are some principles to consider when mixing old with new. To start with, if 85 per cent of your interior is defined by one style — whether that’s modern, transitional, Art Deco, or traditional — incorporating 15 per cent of something else to mix things up a bit can work.
Given that 85 per cent of your home will be in one style, in order for the 15 per cent to really pack a punch it needs to be bold and strong to work as a central focus element. It helps to have sufficient space around a statement piece of furniture to let it to be seen. But at the same time it needs to blend; if there’s no synchronicity of colour, scale or proportion among the various elements, you will end up with pieces that command all the attention, and that won’t be in a good way.
Texture is very important to any room — it can save a space from feeling flat, but it’s especially important in a room that has a mix of periods and styles because it can also tie pieces together. Adding soft pieces is a great way to add colour. It’s easy and inexpensive to change pillows, curtains and throws, which can help you stay with the trends without having to change the whole room.
My own home is primarily contemporary but I’ve added a few antiques throughout. For example, there’s a large French armoire in my kitchen, an Art Deco coffee table in my living room, and a pair of 1940s armchairs in my den. Because the other pieces in these rooms are more contemporary in nature, the different period pieces are more noticeable. And yet they blend into an overall collected, timeless look, perhaps because they are each from different eras — 18th to 20th century — and ultimately feel as though they belong together.
It’s a bit of a leap of faith to add a variety of periods to a sleek modern interior but well worthwhile.
I’ve found the mantra “simpler is better” to be true but I’ve also found that the art of layering, especially when it means bringing together things that have personal meaning or that have been collected over time, allows for your own true personality to shine through.
Lisa Rogers is the exclusive interior designer for Dunpar Homes (DunparHomes.com). Lisa has shared her style and design expertise on popular television programs, such as Canadian Living TV, House & Home TV and The Shopping Channel. Lisa is one of the most familiar faces on CityTV’s Cityline as a regular guest expert for fashion and image, health and wellness and interior design.