Playing with contrasts is fun and can make a space much more interesting if it’s done correctly. Maybe you have some hand-me-down furniture that you like but doesn’t fit in exactly with your style, or maybe you own a piece you love but can’t make work or maybe you just want a little unexpected punch.
Probably one of the easiest places to make old and new styles of furniture mesh is in your dining room. Because you have one large piece, the table, surrounded with many smaller pieces, the chairs, there are many ways to make them all work together. The table, since it is the largest piece, can either be the focal piece or recede as a frame that sets off bolder chairs.
If it’s an ornate old table, mix with modern chairs that are sleek to contrast the embellishments and patina of the old wood. Or swap the concept, using a simple new table to set off some fancy chairs.
This month’s Architectural Digest (the July 2011 issue) is, as usual, full of wonderful projects and inspiring images. Coincidentally three of them feature dining rooms successfully mixing modern and old.
Here’s why they work.
This first image, (above) is a combination of a very classic chair, the Tulip chair by Eero Saarinen from Knoll. This is a very modern space, so the chairs are a great choice. Similar
chairs by Eames, also sold by Knoll for a more reasonable price, would work here as well. Though this table may not be truly old, its warm wood tones beautifully balance the shiny cold surfaces in a similar way. A salvaged old harvest table or old rustic antique would work as well.
The second image is a shocker! A brilliant – both literally and figuratively – shiny blue table could not be more opposite than the fancy wood European antiques, and this is exactly why it works. The blue, while bright, is deep enough to blend well with the moody shadows of the traditional atmosphere.
A bolder color like red, orange or hot pink would be overbearing here and that is not the point. Plus the shiny finish reflects its surroundings like a pool of water, literally bringing the other elements of the room into the table. The designer also shows tremendous restraint by letting this strong blue stand on its own and resisting the temptation to bring the blue color elsewhere in the room.
The last image is impressive in its restraint and modern sensibility. Contrast in this space is mostly in the black and white, echoed not only in the table and chairs but in the artwork as well. The linear quality of the chairs’ wood frames relate to the artwork, and the seemingly color matched Corian table top and the upholstery bring otherwise highly opposed styles together peacefully. The ornate wood softens the hard lines of the artwork and table and creates a friendly gesture in what might otherwise be a very cold room.
Until next time!
Architectural Digest, both print and online version; July 2011. This issue is on the stands now, with Elizabeth Taylor on the cover. Pick up your copy soon!
Images courtesy of Architectural Digest, July 2011: Volume 68, Number 7.
Top image: from the article “A Tribeca Penthouse Makeover” by Heidi Mitchell and photography by Joshua McHugh. Interior design is by MR Architecture + Décor. Chairs: Saarinen Tulip chairs by Knoll, table: unknown.
Middle image: from the article “Restorative Power” by Jean Nathan and photography by Pieter Estersohn. Interior design is by Thomas Jayne. The lacquered table is unattributed, the chairs are from Therien & Co.
Bottom image: from the article “Inner Space” by Brad Goldfarb and photography by Joshua McHugh. Chairs are French antiques, the table is a custom design. Interior design is by Desai/Chia Architecture.