Are you on the hunt for a perfect piece of furniture for your home? I'm sure I won't be the first person to tell you, but decorating with antique furniture is a great idea for numerous reasons! Though the word “antique” conjures up images of overly stuffy Victorian sitting rooms, you'll be surprised at the extent to which antiques can provide a breath of fresh air in this modern age of “big box” store furniture, so often made from particle board. Rather than opting for the mass-produced coffee table or generic dresser, see if you can strive for something handmade and of timeless design and quality instead. Read on for decorating ideas and to hear our take on the top five reasons to fill your home with antique furniture and decor!
Durable, High Quality, Long Lasting
We've all heard the saying “they sure don't make things like they used to.” It's such a widespread adage because it happens to be true! Antique furniture - a piece of furniture that was made over one hundred years ago - was crafted in an age before mass production and assembly lines, when each piece was hand crafted by an artisan with a lifetime of experience. From antique chairs to antique tables, all pieces of furniture have a story to tell. When you buy an antique dining table, you know it has survived through decades of dinner parties - and it will undoubtedly hold up through decades more!
While the craftsmanship is exceptional, antique furniture does come with its own rules for cleaning and maintenance to ensure it lasts. This is because the quality of the materials was also of the highest level. When you're talking antiques, there isn't a piece of particle board in sight! Instead, you'll get mahogany, walnut, rosewood, satinwood, oak, or more! These quality wood maintain exceptional sheen and luster, especially when properly cared for (see our article about caring for your antique furniture HERE). Even the wood used for such pieces was of a higher quality than timber on the market today, because trees were older and more dense.
The pieces that have lasted this long are the ones that are the most durable. They humbly continue to serve you and your family, and are made to do so for generations to come.
Environmentally Friendly - Antiques are Green!
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! If you are concerned about the direction our environment has been heading, then antique furniture should definitely be on your list of things that help. This is because it is much more sustainable to reuse an already manufactured piece of furniture than to buy something brand new. Today, our manufacturing processes can have lots of byproducts and use a lot of materials, so if you are looking to be environmentally-conscious, it is much better to purchase a quality piece of furniture that already exists. So next time you are in the market for a dresser or table, lower your carbon footprint and buy an antique!
For those of you that are health conscious, know this - antiques are actually also the healthier options. Most furniture that is made today is not constructed from solid wood. Rather, it is made from an engineered wood product that is often heavily treated with chemicals to hold it together, and you probably don't want these chemicals in your home. Think of the clothes you store in your dresser - I'm sure you wouldn't want your clothes to carry any chemical traces to your body. An antique dresser made from real wood would certainly be the greener choice all around!
Mixing up your decor style:
Cross-collecting (or buying home goods and art from across periods of time and style) is having a real moment! Is the majority of your decor on the modern side? Do you opt for a look that is transitional? An antique piece of furniture can work fantastically in any home, whether seamlessly furnishing a more classic home, or providing and accent to round out a modern design. One of my favorite design trends of late has been the addition of traditional furniture to modern interiors. Amidst all of the straight lines and stark colors of a mid-century or contemporary living room, an antique Louis XV-style side table, for instance, can keep the room fresh and full of visual interest.
A carefully placed antique piece or two can really soften a modern aesthetic and bring some warmth to a room. Make sure, however, you have a clear vision for your space before you move down this path - having a hodgepodge of decorating styles will do your room more harm than good! The careful placement of one or two antique pieces in a contemporary interior, however, will add just the right amount of excitement.
In addition, the timeless look of an antique piece means that as your design aesthetic evolves over the years, you can be certain that your carefully selected antique pieces will fit in with any decoration changes you make to your home.
If you are feeling adventurous, you can always get creative with where you place your antiques. The beauty of these pieces is that they are so versatile, you can find unexpected ways to utilize them in your home. Take a vintage dresser*** for example. Its many drawers could hold so much more than just clothing in the bedroom. Perhaps it could serve as a buffet in your dining room storing your items for entertaining, or a catch-all table for your entryway to hide away mail or a handy place for your keys. Antique armoires could easily double as a stately TV cabinet in your living room, with the added bonus of dressing up your collection of electronics. The possibilities are endless - don't be afraid to think outside of the box!
Most importantly, antique furniture is compelling because of its story. Not only do these pieces have a rich history and a past life in another time period, but our furniture at M. S. Rau Antiques often comes with an interesting story of who the furniture piece belonged to or where it originated from.
By considering only the best, we have acquired pieces such as a monumental armoire created specifically for Tsar Nicolas II that once resided in the Winter Palace in Russia. This armoire is so elaborately carved that it took 14 artisans 26 years to complete.
We also have a Royal Boulle Marquetry commode by one of the most important English cabinetmakers of his time, Robert Blake. This commode was modeled after a famous pair made for King Louis XIV that reside in the Palace of Versailles. These pieces of furniture were considered so lovely that they were one of only four furnishings deemed worthy to save from destruction in the aftermath of the French Revolution. Think of all of the stimulating conversations you would have with your guests with an antique piece as storied as these!