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How to Mix Old & New for a Lived In Look

One of our interior design secrets, mixing old and new pieces in a room to create a lived-in look, is one of the simplest to get right. Combining old and new, or vintage with modern, can produce a room scheme that looks as though it has evolved over many years. Blending modern trends with inherited pieces and items that have sentimental importance is what makes our homes unique.

There’s something special about a room that stimulates your nostalgic senses, but creating a balance so that the room looks elegant rather than messy or a mishmash of junk can be challenging.

Why mix old and new?

The obvious answer is that everyone has inherited something old from a family member or friend, even if it's a small ornament. Another is that many of us can't afford to buy everything new, preferring to walk around antiques markets for more affordable, characterful finds instead. So, if you want to create a scheme that combines modern trends with inherited, vintage or antique designs, this is how we do it...


Deciding on the color palette should be one of your considerations. When mixing old and new and using lots of interesting individual elements, there isn’t such a need to add dramatic color to your walls, for example, to create added impact. For that reason, a neutral palette is generally the most successful as it allows the pieces within the space to shine.


Stunning spaces with high ceilings, fabulous windows and original features provide the perfect backdrop to any design, and it is possible to introduce a little of this to a less architecturally interesting space. Eclectic interiors tend to be based on either traditional or industrial roots, so adding raw elements such as exposed brickwork, weathered textural wall finishes and classically styled fireplaces will help to set the scene.


A room that wisely combines old and new is cohesive and calm; there’s no single "feature" item and the eye travels from one design to another, taking in the style of each. To ensure your rooms are stylish, not chaotic, every item used must be of good quality or beautiful in its own right. It’s also important to be aware of the scale of each piece within the space, as getting the proportions right is essential to how furnishings relate to one another.


The way you use your items in the space is equally as significant as the actual item. An effective eclectic scheme should be theatrical in style. To achieve this, try re-purposing favorite items, such as an old ladderback chair as a bedside table, a vintage suitcase as a coffee table, or an industrial workbench as a dining table.


While "worn" and aged pieces can be a lovely addition, too many can give the effect of a junk shop rather than the elegant look you’re trying to create. To get it right, mix them with smooth, unblemished surfaces and silky textures. Try a mirrored tray on a worn timber coffee table or a new silk cushion on a distressed leather chair. Mixing a strong and symmetrical display, like framed pictures on a colored wall, can be the perfect contrast to weathered, vintage-style furnishings. Introducing natural textures, such as leather, faux-fur, wool and linen, will also help to create a more relaxed feel.

Go mix!

- Raph