Old Furniture is Trendy, Eco-friendly, and Readily Available.

Old Furniture is Trendy, Eco-friendly, and Readily Available.

Antique furnishings have been an ever-present taste. This is a popular taste.

Antiques are hot partly because of supply chain delays and higher prices for many custom or mass-market pieces. There’s also the public’s turn toward sustainability: Environmentally-conscious buyers are averse to throwing away furniture and are trying to reuse and recycle.

Pop culture, as usual, plays an important role. The romantic appeal of past eras has been given by period-specific shows such as “Bridgerton,” and “Downton Abbey.” Midcentury modern furniture was a hot topic after “Mad Men.” Designers also see renewed interest in the decor of the ’70s, and ’80s.

This has led to a flurry of designers and regulars at estate sales, antique shops, auctions and other events. Online platforms like Chairish, a vintage furniture retailer, and 1stDibs for collectibles say that sales are on the rise.

Designers say that antiques can be incorporated into modern rooms and mixed with pieces from other eras. This is a good thing for design.

An 18th-century cherry dresser could be transformed with glamorous, brushed copper modern handles. An elegant ’60s-style floor lamp could lighten a room covered in prim Laura Ashley wallpaper.

There are more 20th-century vintage pieces popping up. It could be a beautifully carved Edwardian side table, a Le Corbusier chaise, or a Pop Art-era Mirror. Or something as small and charming as a vintage book, ceramic, or even a vintage book.

There are so many old things that it is no longer acceptable to call “traditional” decor. A mix of old and new items can create interesting stories in space.

ANTIQUE AFICIONADOS PRESENT AND PAST

Famous designers who blend periods are Billy Baldwin and Robert Greene, who Architectural Digest called America’s “dean of interior decoration in the 1950s and 1960s.” They created luxurious homes for high society figures and preferred a mixture of antique and modern furniture. Baldwin stated that an older piece “gives the room a unique flavor.”

Jay Spectre is a well-known interior designer known for creating dramatic, sleek spaces. Elsie de Wolfe, Sister Parish, and other female decorators were masters at creating light-filled spaces that allowed elegant, turn-of-the-century European furniture to breathe in modern spaces.

Kelly Wearstler is a designer who brings an adventurous style to boutique hotels as well as homes.

She says, “My aesthetic is all about mixology. Always something old and something fresh, raw, and refined. It’s masculine and feminine.”

Georgia Zikas is a West Hartford designer. She says that modern art and an abstract rug provide a solid foundation for mixed furniture styles. They also dispel any sense of dowdiness.

A simple update is an example: Zikas’ client had inherited a pair of beautiful vintage, crystal Waterford lamps from her mom. The dated pleated shades were replaced with new, crisp white, tapered shades.

REGIONAL ACCENTS

Different regions of the country have different views on antiques.

Lance Thomas, the lead designer for Thomas Guy Interiors, Lake Charles, Louisiana, says, “For example: In the South, where my family is based, French antiques have been most sought after because of our historically French heritage.”

“I have found that the coastal cities of West Palm Beach, Florida, and Malibu, California gravitate towards vintage and antique Italian contemporary items. The Midwest favors American antiques.

Thomas claims that antiques are being sought out by more clients than ever before. Thomas and his team went on a two-week trip to France for antique hunting.

HOW TO BUY

If you’re purchasing antique sight unseen, Thomas says, use a reliable auction site.

He says that there are many fakes and reproductions that could fool even the most seasoned buyers. “A trusted auction site will often verify and list authenticity of the item.”

One of his top tips for identifying antiques is to pay attention to the spots on mirrors. Mirrors made from tin, mercury or silver were old and over time had oxidized to leave a patina on the front. This patina is a sign that the mirror is an antique.

Check the quality of cabinets and dressers. The back of the piece is where you’re less likely to paint it. Are there Phillips screws hidden well or do they have dovetail joints? Thomas also suggests looking at the hinging mechanism – is it machine-made or hand-forged?

Because they reflect the furniture-making abilities of the time, painted and carved details can be used to confirm an item’s age.

“Many pieces from the 18th century will have identical embellishments to their 20th-century counterparts,” Thomas says that precision and accuracy improved dramatically between the two periods. For example, 18th-century pieces won’t have as smooth a curve because of the lack of tools needed to make perfect curves.

Beau Ciolino and Matt Armato co-authored the book “Probably This Housewarming”(Abrams). They recommend the app www.estatesales.net for alerts on sales in your local area.

Ciolino says that the best thing about antiquing is its accessibility. We love browsing Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and consignment shops, in addition to the fine antiques that are sold by old-school auction houses.

You also have ZZ Driggs, Etsy, and eBay. These sites rent and sell vintage furniture. Although you might not be able to afford the $3,000 price tag for a James Mont Art Deco leather lounger chair, it is possible to pay $75 per month for its rental for one year.

One source, which was once only available to the design trade, has been opened to the public in New York City. The Gallery @ 200 Lex has 33,000 feet of antique and vintage furniture from dozens if dealers. Incollect also allows you to see the posts of The Gallery’s dealers.

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