Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Period pieces add style 'at auction'

No matter your budget, a period piece added to your decor will bring character and style to the room. It's amazing what a wonderful Biedermeier chair or a fabulous gilt framed Regency mirror will bring to a room that is furnished with a few pieces from IKEA.

From Skonahem (Sweden)

In a simple white dining room, the addition of a statement gilt framed mirror creates an elegant element to an otherwise unassuming space. 

From Skonahem

For those following my blog, I love color, and one way to add it would be with a great red lacquered Chinese chest like this one. My other design must is 'add an Asian touch'. Asian furniture is so chic and modern feeling, and works with any style. This piece is a great example with its simple lines, a fabulous brass disc for the closure, and the red pop of color!

This Chinese cabinet may not be red, but it has wonderful geometric designed inlays in a warm colored hardwood. This would stand out against a white painted wall, and make that IKEA sofa look like a custom design! This sold at a Stair Galleries auction in Hudson, NY for $375 off an auction estimate of $400 - $600.

I love the red and gold 'japanned' design of this cabinet, and the brass disc on the doors. This would make a fabulous statement piece. It sold at a Christie's auction for an amazing $375, off an auction estimate of $1,000 - $1,500. It's modern, and that may be why it went for so little, but who cares. It looks great!

One of the fastest ways to up the style of a room is to add a fabulous mirror! The simpler the furniture, the more elaborate the mirror! Some simple rules:

1) Go for gold - choose a mirror with a giltwood frame. The more elaborately carved the better.
2) Go for size - a big mirror will make a statement and reflect light back in to the room. It will make a small room bigger.

This George III style mirror has a terrific carved giltwood frame, and is 4 feet 6 inches tall. This ticks all the boxes. You could have has this one for $275 at a Stair Galleries auction. It had an auction estimate of $400 - $600.

If an elaborate frame is not quite for you, this Continental carved giltwood pier mirror might be the better option.  It's a simpler design, and leaves the curviest part to the top. This stands 4 feet 10 inches tall, and would still make a statement. This sold at a Stair Galleries auction for $125 off an auction estimate of $400 - $600.

At the beginning I mentioned Biedermeier. The style is so clean and looks fabulous in any modern space. Here is a pair of walnut bergeres from the second half of the 19th century. I would upholster them in a black horsehair for a graphic look. These sold at a Christie's auction for $2,375 off an auction estimate of $1,500 - $2,500. Imagine them on either side of that IKEA sofa with a simple coffee table in between. 

You can find Biedermeier for less. This pair of walnut armchairs sold for $375 at a Doyle New York auction. They have wonderfully shaped backs, and would also look even better with a black covered seat cushion.

You don't have to have a big budget to add statement decorative details. Watch the auctions, and bid opportunistically, and you may well find a bargain that doesn't look like a bargain. Follow a few rules: add color, add Asian, go for the gold (mirror), and don't be too predictable!

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