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Antiques for contemporary style living  

Traditional or Modern? Color can bridge the difference

We often think of traditional surroundings as toned-down earth colors, but actual historic references show that brighter, more saturated color was often what held the room together. A contemporary style is usually a simpler one, having fewer small objects or areas, and less visible detail in both structure of furniture and surface decoration.

But antiques—both furniture and rugs—can hold a significant place in even the most “modern” settings. If you want to add warmth and richness to your contemporary style home, you can create a moderately eclectic but simply styled décor with an antique textile as the focal point.

Because a rug is often the starting place for putting a room together, an antique rug can provide a timeless basis for a room. In fact, there are many genres of antique rugs that harmonize well with contemporary furnishings. A point to keep in mind: Furniture and other objects are often best-featured when supported by saturated colors as a backdrop. The colors don’t have to be Dark, or Sharp, but just be color-rich. Think of it this way: a large piece of furniture on a very light background tends to look heavy and dominate the space in an often-unwieldy way. Against a richer background, a piece of furniture will be

more stable and have references in the surroundings, rather than ‘floating.’ I’ve paired some color palettes as examples, with the various rugs and textiles shown here. These extraordinary antique rugs and textiles are from Sandra Whitman Gallery, and Kathleen Taylor, The Lotus Collection.  Images courtesy Sandra Whitman Gallery,   Kathleen Taylor/The Lotus Collection

Experiment with colors here with Designer Diggs' color palette functionality  



Click each image to see Barbara's comments on color selection.

Why not a white background?  While the general attraction to white is that “it goes with everything…” you don’t need a color that goes with “everything.” The colors that will provide the best setting for your art work and fine textiles are often rich and saturated, sometimes vibrant, might be different than any particular color in the piece, but which will help create the ambiance you desire for the space where the art work or textile is being shown or used.

The vibrant hues in any dramatic textile can be connected to the wall and floor surfaces using strong colors. Even a ‘strong neutral’ like a deep taupe can be a better background than a pale off-white that does not really ‘support’ the featured piece. In these and subsequent selections, I’ll present some dramatic colors for you to consider as a way of bringing your antique textiles into a contemporary space with a unique look, for elegance and drama. Even if you have always been most comfortable in subtly colored surroundings, please enjoy and experiment with some of these new options.

Color is the most economical way to bring change to a space, whether formal or casual. The colors we’re showing here are not taking your specific space qualities into consideration. Obviously, that would not be possible. However, even a deep color can work well in an intimate space with little natural light. Where you have bright light, you can use a strong color and it will ‘hold up’ to the light and not get washed out.  It’s all about what you want to create. That’s why testing your colors is so important.

We work with architects, interior designers, building and painting contractors, facility managers, business owners, and homeowners. Many of our clients are in the greater Boston area, but no matter where you are we can work with you to use color to your best advantage. Please to inquire about the possibilities in using our long-distance, email color consultation services.

One of my favorite paint lines: Ellen Kennon Full Spectrum Paints. Each paint color includes a wide range of tints, these colors are easier to pair with your rugs and other furnishings.  After you visit http://www.integralcolor.com, you can get the paint info at http://www.ellenkennon.com.  

A note about colors from Ellen Kennon Full Spectrum Paints: each can of color—even the grays—have the full spectrum variety of tint hues in the color mixture. This allows you to use colors in your décor that you would not be able to use with other products. These paints provide a unique Color-Rich environment, even in soft and neutral hues.

Please remember: color on your computer is not the same as paint in your room. Please contact Ellen Kennon to order your samples of real paint, and be sure to test it in your real space before painting an entire room.

Contact Barbara Jacobs: 

Call us at (508) 359-5753 or email to discuss projects for your home, your business, or a client project.   We look forward to working with you.