A life in antiques - Old meets new
Even if you live in a modern house, there's nothing like a piece of antique furniture to add a touch of vintage glamour to your home. ALISON HOUGHAM, owner of The Packhouse antiques centre in Farnham, explains how old and new can co-exist together...
Even if you live in a modern house, there's nothing like a piece of antique furniture to add a touch of vintage glamour to your home. ALISON HOUGHAM, owner of The Packhouse antiques centre in Farnham, explains how old and new can co-exist together beautifully
With the arrival of spring comes the heady desire for new beginnings and fresh inspiration. Longer days, the sudden feeling of warmth and the constant surprise of new life, bursting into bloom all around us, can be the perfect catalyst for us to start making plans to update and re-energise our homes. When it comes to the items with which we surround ourselves, I think this year will herald a move away from homogeneous high street finds towards a more eclectic approach, combining old and new, junk and designer, in a fresh way that works with the demands of modern living. Old and new can co-exist beautifully side by side and there can also be much excitement in using old pieces to create new bespoke items for your home - old bedside tables transformed into vanity sink units; salvage finds incorporated into new cupboards; or more simply, old furniture used in new, originally unintended, ways to update and segregate space. The big screen... With that in mind, I was really excited to find a stunning mid-Victorian screen recently. Dating back to around 1860, the piece is made from solid mahogany and has six graduated panels. One side has figured mahogany detail and the other has oval mirrors and a bevelled edge. The screen would have emerged from a large house where it would have been used to create a private dressing area in a bedroom. The mirrors on the reverse side would have enabled the lady of the house to dress herself away from the gaze of her husband and often somewhat curious and prying eyes of her staff! It is a beautiful piece, all original apart from the fabric, which again could be customised to blend with a bespoke scheme or interior. Originally intended to maintain modesty and privacy, the screen could be used more dramatically to create a natural divide in open-plan living areas, between eating and sitting spaces, or as a panelled backdrop to sit in front of a large table showcasing antique treasures or more modern pieces of design. The mirrors instead of facing inward, could be used to reflect inspirational pieces of art, bringing together collections of old and new with refreshed style and vigour. Or again, more simply, the screen could be used as originally intended in a bedroom setting, but instead of acting as a barrier to beauty, it could be made more welcoming and inclusive, a feature from which to hang a collection of favourite dresses or shoes, a piece to dress in front of, rather than behind. Part of the furniture... Inspirational pieces should be celebrated and although our needs change, we can encourage a natural evolution of quality furniture through new interpretation and an appreciation of form. No matter how large or small, this will hopefully mean that over time many things we all discard will once again find their way back into new homes, reborn in different and more versatile ways. With the welcome rejuvenation that comes with spring, I hope you, too, will feel inspired and challenged to look at your home in a new light.