We have an non-profit organization here in Lexington called the Bluegrass Trust, and their mission is to offer inspiration and leadership to the preservation movement in Central Kentucky. Each March they put on an antique show and sale. Part of the event is a luncheon with a keynote speaker, and that speaker is always a designer. This year’s speaker was Amanda Nisbet, and I was lucky enough to be there for her presentation. Her topic was Designing with Antiques in the Modern Home. Since I was hearing some great design tips from a pro, I took notes so I could share them with you. Amanda is not a trained designer with a bunch of initials behind her name. She is a decorator who has good taste and was able to grow a business, build a good reputation, and write a book. I didn’t write down everything she said, but I have the highlights for you.
All of the photos in this post are from Amanda’s portfolio. She has written a book called Dazzling Design.
1. Make items from the past interesting. Amanda inherited many beautiful items from her mother and grandmother. Some of them fit in with her taste, and some didn’t. She loves combining old items with modern items to create layers of interest. She used her beautiful Wedgewood with modern pieces.
2. Using antiques is eco-friendly, but do it your way. For instance, use modern fabric on a old chair. If you have an old table, use new chairs with it or vice versa.
3. Don’t put all of your antiques in one space. Use them throughout the house.
4. Use old items in new ways. She uses a large tray as a fireplace cover. I loved this idea, but I don’t think I have seen a tray as large as this one.
5. All new everything, doesn’t “look good”, as she phrased it. She believes you should combine periods such as 18th century with mid-century modern.
6. Use big art with small art. I love the way this combo looks.
7. If you don’t like it, change it. She had a chandelier that was just so-so, and to make it fabulous, she dipped it in plaster. This was one of those brass chandeliers we all have seen, but the brass is long gone now.
8. It’s okay to paint furniture. We bloggers already know this one!!!
9. Don’t forget the corners of a room. They can be softened with screens, plants, etc.
10. Lacquered ceilings make a room. She said that a ceiling with a shine adds luminosity to a room and highlights a wonderful chandelier. You can achieve this effect by layering many coats of high gloss paint to the ceiling. However, walls that have a shine will highlight imperfections.
11. Don’t be afraid of color. The girl loves bold colors, but she uses them tastefully. We can do that, too.
12. Buy what you love. This is always my favorite advice. If you don’t have room for it now, you will find a spot for it, and it will fit in with the rest of your decor because they are also things that you love.
I love getting advice from different designers and decorators and hearing or reading their opinions. Sometimes the advice just affirms what I am doing already, and sometimes I get a whole new idea that I can put my own spin on. I hope you enjoyed Amanda’s info that I shared today.