By Kimberly Goad
Spend a little or spend a lot to bring a fresh look to classic styles.
Traditional home décor almost never looks wrong, but it rarely surprises. How to mix things up? Jan Showers, an interior designer and antiques dealer in Dallas, suggests that you “give timeless pieces of edge. Take classic lines and add something unusual.” You might not think to pair a white cowhide rug with an antique French mirrored commode, for instance, but it’s just this interplay between new and old, textured and sleep, neutral and refined that breathes new life into vintage pieces. As Marco Pasanella, author of Living in Style without Your Mind, puts it, “It’s great to have grandma’s rocker, but that doesn’t mean you want to reproduce her living room.” To help you use antiques smartly, Showers created two variations on antique chic—one to splurge on, the other less costly—both equal parts elegance and pizzazz.
Showers has always loved combining styles and periods, and that’s the foundation of this graceful yet lively look. While in France eight years ago she found many pale-wood and mirrored pieces made in the forties that could wake up her favorite combination of Louis XVI, Directoire and 19th-century French antiques. She uses a similar mix of the high-end antiques in this room, adding glamour and depth with accent items in glass and other reflective materials: Murano vases (of different heights for visual interest), an antiqued gilt-wood mirror, a French mirrored chest of drawers from the thirties, a glass top bronze coffee table from the forties, and lamps with Lucite bases. A leather sofa and the lamps themselves, made of satin spar, give off a softer sheen, while texture comes by way of cowhide rug. Fresh flowers and throw pillows in vibrant colors are the finishing touches.
Just because something conveys a sense of luxury doesn’t mean it has to cost a fortune. The trick says Showers, is to choose classic pieces that have the same sophisticated styling as more expensive furnishings and accents but are made from reasonably priced materials. A contemporary coffee table of steel for example, looks as smart as an antique design in bronze. Similarly, glass decanters can substitute beautifully for costlier ones made of crystal. You can purchase well-made reproductions, instead of antiques, from mass-market retailers. And, to dress up walls, frame and hang reprinted photographs rather than vintage ones.