How to Repurpose Antique Furniture

How To

Antiques have charm and bring character to a space. They are an effective way to create interesting and timeless interiors, so we'd like to share some tips to help you source and purpose antique furniture...

Antiques have charm and bring character to a space. They are an effective way to create interesting and timeless interiors, so we thought we would share some tips to help you source and repurpose antique furniture…

Study the market before you buy

Like fashion, antiques have trends and their prices vary depending on demand. If you know what you are looking for, try to research a variety of suppliers, markets and even online websites like Vinterior and eBay.

Refashion and customise

Antique pieces are timeless and bring about more opportunities to be creative than cheaper alternatives made from materials such as MDF. A solid piece of timber can be refashioned in many different ways. You can remove a dark varnish and treat the wood with a French polish, bleach wood for a lighter appearance or sand and paint the timber. You could even use a distressed finish which will look at home in a countryside setting. A robust piece of furniture can be transformed into an extraordinary feature!

This elegant secretaire desk in the Suffolk Suite at Haymarket Hotel was painted on the outside creating an unusual but effective contrast.

Glaze with colours

Consider adding a glaze using bright and vibrant colours. It can bring a touch of glamour to any antique, like this striking cabinet in The Crosby Suite at Crosby Street Hotel.

Consider the space 

Sometimes simple decisions make the greatest impact and this is always the case when placing antiques. Dark furniture can make a room feel gloomy and old fashioned, but positioning pieces in a contrasting space creates a contemporary look.

Here in the Drawing Room at The Whitby Hotel, we have placed a dark ornate table against a lighter wall with a modern mirror. It’s a winning combination.

This repurposed piece from Robert Kime is a brilliant example.

Consider the material 

Old timber pieces create a sense of warmth, particularly when combined with cooler colours. This is an effective way to balance grey tones in a scheme.

Add a fabric 

This idea is particularly applicable to cupboards, chairs and banquettes. Adding fabric can give antiques a new focal point and even create elements of surprise. This is a useful solution for furniture that would otherwise look too classic or old fashioned for the space.

Combine with modern pieces 

A room should never feel like it has been decorated in one day. It should feel as though it has evolved over time with several layers that have been added to its story. The best way to achieve this is by mixing old and new. Even a Rococo style piece would benefit from being surrounded by objects from different periods.

We hope you’ll find these tips useful when sourcing your next antiques and giving them the treatment they deserve. Share your finds with us using #DesignThreads and tagging @KitKempDesignThread.