How to choose the best antiques for a modern home - 14 decorating ideas

Design specialists agree that every room needs at least one antique or vintage piece. There are so many inspiring ways to decorate with antiques and I will share with you fourteen classic pieces that can be enjoyed in your home, whether it be modern or traditional.

1. Louis Philippe Mirrors

Gilded Louis Philippe mirror living room library mantle piece

Louis Philippe Mirrors are a classic design - they fit seamlessly into modern homes. They are perfect above a fireplace, but can also be enjoyed in a powder room.

Louis Philippe mirror silver frame powder room wall sconces

As they are not overly decorative, they look wonderful paired with more flamboyant pieces of art, wall sconces or wallpaper. 

Louis Philippe mirror with gold frame fireplace wall appliques

2. Louis XV and Louis XVI statement chairs

Louis XV chair home library

Louis chairs are a classic design and can be reupholstered to achieve a modern look. Louis XV chairs (above) can be identified by their cabriole legs (S curve), where as Louis XVI chairs have a straighter tapered leg. 

Louis XVI armchair Patina Farm

A cosy Louis XVI armchair for the living room, bedroom or bathroom is a striking accent piece.

Louis XVI chair home office modern with antique pieces

Louis XVI chairs are a stylish choice for a dining room - here they are upholstered in a bold green fabric and contrast a modern dining table beautifully. 

Louis XVI dining chairs antique with modern

3. Vintage French leather club chairs

French leather club chairs can date from the 1930's to the 1970's. Originally designed for cigar-smoke-filled gentlemen's clubs, they have a masculine scale and design.

A single club chair is appropriate for a smaller home and where space permits a pair is an elegant choice.

French leather club chair vintage modern home

Large club chairs can be easily softened with throw cushions and blankets. Club chairs - with their worn and aged leather - are a wonderful addition to a modern interior. 

Vintage French leather club chairs modern living room

Petite French club chairs are more feminine and elegant making them a lovely choice for a modern living room. 

Pair of small vintage French leather club chairs

4. Sunburst Mirrors

Sunburst mirror gallery wall dining room

Sunburst mirrors have long been enjoyed in homes of all styles. There are modern reproductions, however nothing compares to an original Chaty Vallauris sunburst mirror, or a carved gilt wood mirror with an antique patina.

Vintage mid century sunburst mirror living room

This is a piece that should be purchased early in one's life - they are timeless so will look great in any space from a college bedroom to a gallery wall or above a fireplace.

Mid century cane sunburst mirror collection

When people ask me what antiques are suitable gifts for new collectors, a sunburst mirror is always a suggestion I make!

Gallery wall sunburst mirror collection commode

5. Demijohn bottles

Demijohn bottles on buffet table antique and modern

Demijohn bottles are a perennial favourite for interiors of all types. 

 Demijohn bottle antique with modern palm leaf

Older bottles generally have green or blue glass whereas newer examples are clear. 

 Demijohn garden decor Mediterranean interior design

Demijohns are fabulous decor both indoors and out and look beautiful with a large sculptural bunch of branches and in collections.

6. Antique French pottery

Collection of antique French pottery kitchen decorating ideas

Antique pottery is a joy to collect. Confit pots and tian bowls are popular collector's items and are traditionally glazed with ocher or green. Collections of antique confit pots are a lovely way to add a burst of colour to a space. 

Antique preserving bowl ochre glaze modern home

Antique plates are an economical way to fill a wall and there are so many imaginative ways to modernize this traditional decor idea.

Ironstone wall plates and jugs kitchen decorating ideas

Patterned plates are charming, whereas vintage ironstone platters are a crisp white that can be just as stunning. 

7. 19th century French garden urns

Antique French garden urn

Garden urns can be enjoyed with garden cuttings in all seasons. Here a bunch of wild blackberries contrast the muted tones of the antique urn. 

Mounted French garden urn with pink roses

A weathered cast iron urn, particularly when it is over-sized makes a beautiful centerpiece on a dining table or sideboard. 

Garden urn with huge flowers, mirror moss filled bowls sideboard decor

8. Vintage butcher's blocks & marble butcher's tables

Antique French butcher's block kitchen Ken Fulk

A well worn butcher's block is a must have in the kitchen. I am fortunate enough to be invited into many private French homes - a butcher's block and marble table usually takes pride of place. 

French marble butcher's table modern farmhouse kitchen

Butcher's tables traditionally have a marble top and decorative cast iron base. They are on casters making them easy to move about and a practical choice for a kitchen island. 

Antique French butcher's table marble kitchen

9. Antique lanterns

Antique French lantern round table entryway decorating ideas

Antique lanterns are an essential element to include in your lighting design.

Antique French lantern garden

Hang them indoors or in a summer kitchen for an instant dose of charm. 

10. Chandeliers

Antique chandelier modern living room

Chandeliers are truly timeless. They are a spectacular choice in modern interiors where their detail can be enjoyed in an unexpected context.

Antique chandelier modern bedroom

Antique chandelier rustic dining room

11. Collections of antique curios

Collection of curios and specimen domes

There are no rules when collecting and displaying objects of curiosity and quirky collectibles. 19th century specimen domes are a wonderful way to enjoy (and protect) such precious treasures. 

Curios and velum books open shelving styling ideas

Shells, ostrich eggs and antique Saint's crowns are lovely pieces to collect. Displayed on open shelving they will be a talking point with guests. 

Curios displayed in white cabinetry

12. Antique French candlesticks

Collection of antique candlesticks in modern bedroom beach house

Antique candlesticks are a wonderful choice for the new collector. They can be enjoyed in small apartments or grand homes.

Antique gilded candlestick and gold chandelier modern home with antiques

A single gilded candlestick will emphasize other gold finishes.

Extra large candlestick on floor interior decorating ideas antique modern

Extra large candlesticks can be placed on the floor beside the fireplace or respond to the scale of other large furniture.

Antique urns and candlesticks modern French interior design ideas

Gilded, carved and silver candlesticks can be matched with any style.

13. Wall appliques (wall sconces)

Wall appliques antique wall sconces modern home

Wall appliques add a three dimensional decorative element to walls. They provide context for other pieces such as a chair, mirror or fireplace. 

Hollywood regency living room maison charles wall sconce appliques

Gold wall sconces by Maison Charles date to the 1960's and are a fun choice for a modern home. Here a dark wall finish provides a dramatic background for a gold wall applique. 

Wall sconces Patina Farm French leather club chairs chesterfield

14. Antique bust & sculpture

Antique bust modern living room marble fireplace

An antique bust instantly changes the feel of a space. They exude design acumen - it is rare to find a stunning living room or entryway without a bust or spectacular piece of sculpture. 

Antique bust ironstone kitchen farmhouse

A plaster or white marble bust works well with ironstone plates. Here Kay O'Tool adds her personality with other objects of curiosity. 

Mounted sculpture modern French interior design ideas

Pieces of antique sculpture are stunning when mounted. This terracotta piece can be enjoyed at sitting height as it is not only mounted but placed on a weathered pedestal. 

Antique sculpture chandelier modern hallway decorating ideas

A circulation space is a wonderful opportunity to display larger pieces of sculpture as you are standing or walking by. 

These fourteen decor pieces are affordable and will be pieces to enjoy for a lifetime, no matter what size or style your home is. 

Explore our full collection of exquisite one-of-a-kind French antiques.


Image credit: Cote Maison, Elle Decor, Veranda, Architectural Digest, Lonny Magazine, Apartment Therapy, Amelia Handegan, Giannetti Home, Ashley Goforth Interiors, Nate Burkus, Martha Stewart, Ken Fulk, Pinterest.


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