Using Antiques In Decoration – 10 Ideas


emma burns ideas for using antiques in interior designA definite highlight of this year’s Olympia Antiques Fair was listening to Emma Burns, an Interior Designer from Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler, talk about using antiques in decoration today.

The ideas Emma discussed with Giles Kime, Interiors Editor at Country Life, were so interesting and inspiring that we very much wanted to share them with you. We were therefore delighted when Emma agreed to publish her expertise on our blog.

Below Emma discusses why she loves using antiques in decoration and details 10 ways she has used antiques to bring soul to a house. A great read if you need some inspiration on using antiques in interior design.


Emma Burns – How You Can Use Antiques in Decoration Today

“I very much like to use antiques both for myself and in the projects I work on for clients. Antique furniture can bring soul to a house in the way a newly made piece does not. I really enjoy scouring antique fairs, shops and markets to find wonderful one off pieces.


antique vanity unit bathroom ideas1. I enjoy using old chest of drawers as bathroom or cloakroom vanity units. It’s easy to replace the polished wood top with a beautiful honed piece of marble and to set a basin under this.  You can use newly made taps, I, however, very much like using reconditioned old brass taps too for the lovely glow they give


2. Antique 18th and 19th Century picture frames are not only a wonderful way of making a lacklustre painting look more expensive, but they can also be made into wonderful looking glasses


3. Antique blue and white plates hung on walls always look sensational, I love the hang in one of the dining rooms at 5 Hertford Street where a mass of small saucers have been hung and scattered like confetti over the painted panelled walls


4. Antique textiles or rugs can make a great top to an ottoman or footstool. The sides upholstered with a plain mohair or linen velvet, or put onto a polished or painted wooden frame


5. Antique pots or vases converted to lamps make much more interesting lights than newly made lamp bases, I like to use old saris and vintage linens as softly gathered shades.


inspiration for using antiques in decoration and design6. Old napkins and tea towels can make wonderful shades, you can use the fringed edges to trim the base of the shades


7. Any polished wood can be painted if you don’t like the tone of the wood, and ebonising a piece can transform it completely


8. Antique saucers where the cup has been broken make excellent soap dishes, ashtrays or a vide poche for a bedside table


9. Miss matched old glasses look fabulous on a dining table


10. Old Oriental runners look marvellous laid to close cover on a staircase, or rugs laid over each other in a patchwork give a fabulous background to a room”


We love these tips as they show how wonderful antiques are for adding interest and personality to your interiors. They also demonstrate that using antiques does not have to be expensive and it is possible to use just a few pieces to transform your space.

Have you used any of the ideas above, or have any tips to add? Do let us know in the comments.



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