How To Decorate Your Living Room With Antiques

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Searching for antiques is like a treasure hunt. Antiques come in all shapes and sizes from rugs to lamps, buffet tables to settees, silverware to precious jewels, and sculptures to side chairs. There is an era of antiquities to fit every taste and décor whether it is early American, European, Victorian, Asian, French or Greek.

There are many ways to decorate a living room with antiques. A new homeowner may take the opportunity to start from scratch and completely fill a living room with antiques. When a living room already contains furniture, antiques can be added as focal points and accent pieces. Before beginning an antiquing journey, plan which antiques are desired and how those pieces will be placed in the room.

Acquiring Antiques

Don’t give in to the urge to impulse buy when shopping for antiques. Take time to shop, to see what is available and to get a feel for prices. Look for pieces that have personal appeal and that fit the living room and furnishings. It isn’t important to match styles or colors; instead, the antiques should complement the room.

Antiques can be found in a variety of places:

  • Auction houses carry every type of antique and heirloom imaginable, from any era. They have a revolving inventory of artwork, jewelry, tableware, furniture, tapestries and rugs.
  • Auctions and consignment stores can be a source of good bargains.
  • Second-hand stores, fleas markets and garage sales can be a source of some amazing antique finds.

When decorating on a budget, consider purchasing reproduction pieces. There are some instances when a reproduction makes good sense. Dining room chairs are one example. Reproductions of antique dining room chairs are studier than the original antiques.

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Decorating With Antiques

Antiques work well in traditional decorating styles and in contemporary decorating themes. Using antiques with contemporary furnishings can add a retro look to a living room. Also, antiques that are paired with contemporary pieces gain a fresh and stylish look.

When shopping for antiques to add to an already decorated living room, look for antiques that have clean and simple lines. Also look for antiques that share common traits with the existing décor. Look for antiques that match the wood color in the living room or that are the perfect height for another piece of furniture in the room.

It only takes a couple of antique pieces to rejuvenate a contemporary room. Here are a few ideas for mixing antiques into a living room décor scheme by using select pieces as accents:

  • Antique end tables can be placed at each end of a simple leather couch.
  • A Victorian era buffet can be a focal point against a large wall.
  • Persian tapestries can be hung as drapes.
  • Place Tiffany style lamps next to a comfortable reading chair.
  • Sprinkle candleholders and vases around tables, fireplace mantles or bookshelves.

When using antiques as accents, be careful not to use too many objects and too many competing styles.

Antiques blend well in living rooms with high ceilings and wood floors. Neutral colored carpets make an excellent backdrop for antique furniture and rugs, and walls painted in a natural or muted hue add an antique finish to a contemporary room that complements the antique furnishings.

Living rooms that are furnished entirely with antiques can be decorated in a number of fashions. Antiques can be grouped to recreate an era, display certain types of fabrics or include furnishings that use a favorite wood.

Sometimes antiques need to be repurposed or refinished to help the piece fit in with a decorating scheme. This may mean repainting pieces or replacing fabrics. If an antique isn’t the right color for the room, consider refinishing the piece in a wood finish, using a paint color or adding a fabric that matches the existing décor. Or, a piece can be repurposed to fit in the room. An old steamer trunk can be converted to a settee by adding a few pillows.

Caring For Antiques

Antiques require more care than other furnishings around a home. To keep antiques in good condition and to prolong the life of antiques displayed in the home, it is important to keep antiques protected from heat, sunlight, moisture and humidity.

Here are a few tips to keep antiques clean and extend their life:

  • Hand wash porcelain, glass and pottery in warm water using a mild detergent and a clean soft-bristled brush. Let air dry.
  • Keep breakables away from traffic areas and other places where they may be knocked off a table or shelf.
  • Antique textiles should be professionally cleaned by someone knowledgeable with the fabric.
  • Use the low setting on the vacuum cleaner when vacuuming antique rugs.
  • Dust wood pieces with lint-free wipes.
  • Always handle antiques carefully. Don’t drag furniture over the floor. Furniture should be lifted when rearranging the living room.

Antiques are a unique way to decorate a living room and create instant conversation pieces. Remember to take time to search for the perfect antique and to give each piece a special place in the living room.

Last Updated: December 19, 2011
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About Coletta Teske Coletta Teske has 25 years' experience in tech journalism, as well as home and gardening topics. She has freelanced for Fortune 500 companies such as Boeing and Microsoft, published more than two dozen computer books for Prima Publishing and Macmillan, and worked as a freelance correspondent for West Hawaii Today. Coletta has been an avid gardener since she was 2 years old. While living in Hawaii, she achieved a lifelong dream of becoming a certified master gardener.

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