I’m a huge fan of “if it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it”. That rings true for interior decorating. If you like it, then live with it. If its a thorn in your side, then it’s time to transplant it somewhere else. Well, Oprah Winfrey’s readers are learning how to mix the old with the new. Oprah.com shares this with us from her website article The Secret to Mixing Old and New in Your Home …
Mix objects and furniture from different eras to create a look that is unique and modern. Get the inspiration you need to do it right! Michael says he found inspiration in the traditional interiors of the late great Sister Parish (Jackie O’s decorator) and “the way her partner, Albert Hadley, would disrupt them with a touch of modernism.” But Tracey gives convention an even more adventurous spin. “It’s really a send-up of an Upper East Side salon,” she says.
Color unifies objects of different eras. The coral elements that bounce around the room pull together this gilded 18th-century Spanish bench, the ’50s Italian wing chair covered in scrolling Fortuny fabric, and the contemporary window shades in a bold awning stripe.
Don’t aim for all-out perfection. Objects with patina give spaces an aged, lived-in quality that new items—and even mint-condition antiques—don’t establish. That’s why Michael sought out these “gently tattered” 19th-century Persian rugs. “They prevent the room from feeling overly decorated,” he says. Abstract art tempers traditional furniture. On their own, the leather Chesterfield sofa and black lacquer Louis XVI desk might skew a little staid. Tracey evened out the uptown-downtown tally by hanging silkscreens from postmodernist Yves Klein on the shelves and Phillip Smith’s 1992 painting Before Paris on the windowed wall.
No matter the aesthetic, intimacy matters. Oversize—or, in this case, grandly proportioned—rooms tend to swallow up furniture. But by delineating two seating areas on either side of this writing table, Tracey imbues each with a salon-like scale. Shine updates a straight-laced paint palette. Tracey turned up the volume of pale blue walls and white woodwork when she bypassed prim eggshell finishes—and even high gloss—and opted instead for a rich, oil-based formulation that emulates the sheen of lacquer.
Choose one object that links old and new styles. This marble lamp captures the dynamic tension of the entire room—it reads almost Philippe Starck (it’s actually Tony Duquette, c. 1945), but the obelisk base references pure neoclassicism. The strong vertical element also brings variety to a long, horizontal layout.
Throw the whole thing a curveball. Madcap is the only way to describe these electric-green Wormley for Dunbar sofas. The upholstery color, which doesn’t get repeated elsewhere, magically undercuts the formal furniture arrangement. Balance is good; matching, not so much. Although they convey an underlying (and reassuring) symmetry, the room’s built-in bookshelves steer clear of predictability. This set eats up an entire wall with black cubbies. The other frames a white mantel. The sharp contrast makes each one equal parts refined and kicky.
Photographs by Annie Schlechter.