Home improvement: Blend time-honoured favourites with cutting edge design to create a modern classic

Classic furniture still has its place

Classic furniture still has its place - Credit: Archant

Want to make your home a modern classic? Here Ellen Widdup explores how.

Work with the highlights of your home, not against them

Work with the highlights of your home, not against them - Credit: Archant

The cold, straight lines and open, functional space of modern design are present in most post-millennial homes. And these aspects offer a generational fingerprint just like the trends and fashions of days gone by.

But a home crammed with modernity risks losing character, cosy corners and a stamp of originality.

Sometimes it can be good to mix it up a little. And adding a few classics can add a twist to the standard contemporary arrangement.

A traditional window is brought up to date with a modern blind and light fitting

A traditional window is brought up to date with a modern blind and light fitting - Credit: Archant

Choose a stand out piece

First rule – don’t throw old furniture out just because you are having a re-design. Upcycling is a fantastic way to bring new life to furniture and even create a signature piece.

You would not put old family photographs in the bin just because we now look at our snaps on computers.

Most Read

The same sentimentality should be applied to some of the things you have in your home.

Modern classics

Modern classics - Credit: Archant

That tired, old chair where your dad used to snooze and read the papers could be given a new lease of life.

And the kitchen table where the kids have done hours and hours of homework could become a central feature with a little love and attention.

Jane Cappleman, of Jane Cappleman Interior Design, is an expert at blending the old and the new.

She said: “I get a lot of customers who have heirlooms with a lot of history – the very last thing they should do is lose that. It is tragic when something that has been around for years is lost.

“Chairs are the obvious candidates for re-upholstery but I have also done foot stools as well.

“For one client we re-imagined a chaise longue and now it is a striking piece which lifts the whole room.

“There is a lot of furniture that can be re-thought and re-designed. It just takes a bit of imagination and you can have a unique piece that guests will never forget.”

Set up of the home

Adding a touch of the classic – or the modern – must not come at the expense of the structure of the house itself.

Often in older homes there is the opportunity to make visible beams work alongside newer features. Don’t hide the features that made you fall in love with your home in the first place.

Working around what the house already offers you gives flexibility for further changes down the line.

Jane added: “In an old-style house I always advise that clients honour the structure and the bones.”

Colour and canvas

Colour is key to getting this juxtaposition right.

Jane believes neutral walls offer the perfect foundation: “Grey and cream walls work beautifully for this kind of project. Think of the walls as a canvas for what you want to create in the rest of the room.

“In bedrooms darker wood offers an opulent feel but if you couple that with a more contemporary colour – say a burnt orange – you can add intrigue and expression.

“Classic furniture often has subdued colours so clashing something more modern alongside these can work beautifully.”

In kitchens, which are often packed with modern appliances, use of colour is the best way to ensure you can be focused on the feel and atmosphere you desire. If you are careful and get it right the palette you chose can take the edge off the modernity.

Light touch, big impact

Even a small element of quintessential design can go a long way as Jane explains: “For one client we used a lambrequin and roman blind with a very modern fabric. It stands out and gets a lot of interest because it is a classic with a modern twist.

“The same is true for another project where I carpeted a staircase and used carpet rods. The edge of the original staircase is visible yet the colours of the carpet are contemporary.”

For more ideas log on to www.janecappleman.co.uk