My last article reviewed the rise (and fall) of modern furniture, and concluded with the unorthodox recommendation that it’s fine to mix modern and traditional styles. Now I want to explain why having both styles is a healthy approach to decorating, and how and why to pass that balanced appreciation to your children.
Some people claim that the home should be a retreat for relaxing the mind, body and spirit. Others expect to come home to an inspiring environment that wows them every time. When it comes to achieving the desired effect of projecting your own personality in your home, understand how you and your family will react to different styles, and be creative in planning that impact.
The Basics of Modern vs Contemporary
Contemporary furniture is known for its streamlined design and functionality: clean lines, a restrained and simple composition, smooth and polished surfaces and few urbane details. It should not be bare and lifeless. However it often is, due mostly to blasé tastes in color scheming and budget constraints.
Stainless steel, nickel and chrome are the typical choices for lamps, appliances and hardware. Black metal is a popular accent. Wood is often dark or light; rarely medium in color. Upholstered furniture is sleek with comfort in mind, placing a premium on leather and solid or muted colors and textured fabrics.
The downside of decorating with modern furniture is that you are bound to the current trend. Really well-made modern furniture risks outlasting its popularity by decades, leaving the owners with out-of-style decor. Unfortunately, contemporary furniture is often mass manufactured from cheap materials, lacking in design and craftsmanship (the fall of modern furniture mentioned above). Good modern furniture can have a pizzazz that traditional cannot. It should be well-made and have long-lasting aesthetic appeal that can be restored with contemporary fabrics and finishes later in life.
Antiques and Traditional Furniture
Traditional furnishings are a reminder of their rich history and the quality of their craftsmanship. Antiques and good reproductions have a timeless appeal. Antique furniture remains the focal points of many high-profile spaces, such as hotels, upscale offices, restaurants, etc.
Many people think antiques must cost too much. As I demonstrated in my last article, antiques and fine reproduction furniture are more cost-effective in the long-term than disposable furniture. Thanks to the recent financial crisis in Europe and America and their rising demand in Israel, antiques and fine reproductions are more and more affordable. However do your homework before buying; there is always the unscrupulous dealer who wants to sell you Asian knock-offs as valuable antiques.
A Little Education Can Go a Long Way
Let’s not forget where we live. A 1980’s Ralph Lauren model home with its 1800s English manor décor will look out of place in 21st century Israel. The current trend is to mix traditional with modern, emphasizing the benefits of both, with well-placed contrasts that make one appreciate both. That kind of balancing act is best done by a skilled interior designer, who, like a therapist, interprets your tastes and provides solutions that you never would have come to on your own. When customers ask me if they should hire a decorator, I ask if they would do their own taxes or psychotherapy…
One of our favorite kinds of projects is to remodel or “upcycle” unusable antiques into eye-popping functional furniture. N
Ideally the whole family should learn to appreciate fine furnishings and craftsmanship. You can start to educate your children with a fun summer course in woodworking at the Open Studio in Jerusalem taught by Restorno. In a safe and fun environment they can learn real life skills to construct quality wooden projects that will endure physically and emotionally. These sessions build appreciation for aesthetics and craftsmanship, in a world where even most carpenters don’t use traditional methods and tools.
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