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Time Will Tell – Our Dos And Don’ts for Creating a Timeless Space


Creating a space with character and timelessness is essential for designing a living space with integrity. Building a story within a space is the key to our designs.

Whilst finding new pieces is always exciting, adding in a dash of the antique, a sprinkle of agedness and a hint of weather-beaten is what makes a space memorable. Here are our do’s and don’ts for creating an authentic aged feel in a room.

DO layer with antiques

Antiques are a sure fire way to give any space depth and age. The key is to mix and layer using different points in time to create a look that is eclectic. In the Drawing Room at Ham Yard Hotel, our vision was to create a space that felt like the home of a traveller hoarding treasures from far-flung corners of the world.

One of my favourite pieces is this butchers block table. Grooves, cut marks and the undulations of years of use are all clearly visible and I love how it quite literally tells you a story as you look at it.

The butcher’s block sits next to a highly decorative Indian bone inlay chest – I love this piece with its galaxy-like twinkling motifs and stars on the dark tonal wood.

DON’T mistake tired for aged

When working with antiques, it’s important to understand the difference between perfectly aged and past it.

I don’t tend to restore antiques to the point of no return, I like a piece to maintain part of its story and show its life scars. However, there is a sweet spot, it is incredibly important that your antiques are functional and work well. A loose hinge or a missing piece doesn’t create an authentic aged feel, it simply feels worn-out.

Be sure to take time to look at the pieces you are using carefully. Do they call for a complete restoration? A few small fixes? Or are they perfect just as they are? Asking those key questions is important.

DO play with paint

Decorative painted finishes are always a wonderful way to build a perfectly weathered space. This can be achieved by using gorgeous painted antiques, from 17th century Swedish armoires to Romanian marriage chests. Such pieces often appear within my designs. The knocks and scratches make it clear the piece has lived a life, but the intricate and romantic painterly designs convey pure craftsmanship.

At Charlotte Street Hotel, we used specialist paintwork to create beautiful panelling to bring gravitas and the much needed feeling of a timeless building filled with stories and secrets.

DON’T overlook the details

Details and accents are what makes a space special. I like to play with antique frames and objects that add to a room’s authenticity. Antiques provide importance and an accent that says ‘I’ve been here a while and I’ll be here for a long time to come’. I love the shock of a gilt ornate detail breathing a spark of life into a space.

Whilst the little creatures lining the walls of Ham Yard Hotel’s Orangery aren’t as distinguished as the gold details, they work just as hard with their perfectly worn and layered surfaces to create a mature and characterful room.

DO get crafty

We love getting crafty in the design studio. My daughter Willow is always the first to get stuck into a creative project, and on this occasion it was all about building the story of time and the weathered look of this beautiful violin case.

It is covered with travel stickers that are carefully designed to feel worn and vintage, peeled back to build the story of a violin case that has travelled around the world and back again. When opened, the case plays the sounds of gulls and seaside noises from the English coastal town of Whitby.

DON’T be afraid to give things a refresh

Sometimes you come across beautiful antiques that may not be in style or feel too overbearing for your space. Here, I found this ornately carved gothic piece which isn’t normally the style I would look for. However, I thought the craftsmanship was just too special to ignore. Instead of passing it up, I bleached the wood, stripping back the dark and shiny varnish typical of this time. Immediately you are left with a piece that works in a modern space.

DO turn to nature

When it comes to creating a magically timeless feel, nature never fails to disappoint. Nature can create the look and feeling of age that can only be achieved by days, nights, weeks and months spent in the outdoors, weathering the turning of the seasons.

Gently cascading moss and vegetation on stone creates this effect perfectly, making pieces such as this water fountain on the Roof Terrace at Ham Yard Hotel feel almost as old as mother nature herself.

This old tree root, which has been transformed into a bench, is a charming addition to the entrance of my home in the New Forest.

The hanging driftwood suspended from the antique door knocker also adds an organic twist of wood, slowly eroded by water to create the beautiful shapes we have today.

Nature can also bring a touch of new life to old antiques such as on this plant stand. The shock of green against the beaten old shelves gives the piece a refresh – something old, something new.

We hope these tips and tricks help you to create spaces with fresh techniques and an age old timeless feel to them.

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