The rooms that I am drawn to are individual, personal and layered. Often they are a mix of new pieces, such as a custom sofa, with several great statement antique and vintage pieces from multiple periods, whether it be art, an inherited sideboard, a one of a kind lamp, or a fabulous vintage cocktail table. However, for the last decade it seems using antiques fell out of fashion. Much was written about the demise of antiques and "brown furniture." Yet, the pendulum seems to be swinging back toward this layered aesthetic, as people are craving rooms with character and individuality filled with wallpaper, upholstery, and, yes, antiques. The Wall Street Journal recently ran a feature on this revival of "maximalism." Whatever one calls it and setting trends aside, great antiques and vintage pieces are the secret to beautiful and timeless rooms. The key is to integrate them with more modern pieces for a fresh look.
Estate sales, flea markets and auctions offer the best selection of antiques and vintage often at much more affordable prices than new furniture or accessories sold today in showrooms or design centers. Indeed, I founded Gray Antiques to bring such finds to clients. Here in Baltimore we are fortunate to have a well established auction house, Alex Cooper, which has the best pieces in the area. Baltimore and its surroundings have a history of well-traveled and wealthy residents so there is always a something beautiful to be found at auction. The above photo of my living room includes several Alex Cooper finds over the years, such as an antique hand painted Italian screen and a midcentury modern campaign chest by Widdicomb. Along with my beloved Milo Baughman cane chairs, these pieces elevate the entire room for a fresh and individual look.
Below are more photos of antique and vintage pieces that I have found at auction over the years and incorporated into my home. And at Gray Antiques, we love helping clients find these great pieces for their own homes.
This gorgeous early 20th century landscape by Paul Jardine found at Alex Cooper served as the design inspiration for our newly renovated kitchen.
The painting now rests on the mantel of our kitchen fireplace. The mantelpiece itself is vintage found at a salvage shop and the leopard upholstered bench and garden lanterns also are auction finds.
I acquired this stunning early 20th century gilt tiered French chandelier at Alex Cooper for our new breakfast room. It had to be rewired but even then it was one-third the price one would pay for a reproduction manufactured today.
I also found a set of six of these vintage chairs. While I did not like the upholstery, I loved their shape, they were well made, and I knew I could readily have them slipcovered. I acquired all six chairs for only $150 dollars, which left plenty in my budget to have custom slip covers made.
The chairs and chandelier today in our breakfast room, my new favorite space in our home. The round table is vintage McGuire, found online. The blue and white Chinese ginger jars were one of my first auction purchases from Alex Cooper many years ago. The hand colored German fruit drawings are circa 1800s and are another find that I had custom framed.
And finally, even if you are not redesigning an entire room, one key piece, like this sculpture found at Alex Cooper, can bring a fresh perspective. I adore this sculpture and not a day goes by that I do not pass it in my living room and smile.