this new periodic feature, Bob Brooke offers personal insights into the
world of antiques and antiques collecting.
One Person's Comfort is Another's
by Bob Brooke
some people, comfort means coziness. For others, the freedom of
uncluttered space. Which are you? I tend to lean towards a cozy home
environment since I’ve been working at home for the past 35 years.
Some people are only comfortable when they can put their feet up. Does
that mean you can’t enjoy older things? Is this contrary to collecting
antiques? Definitely not.
Whatever comfort means to you, it’s probably the most important
consideration when you’re furnishing a new home or apartment or
refurnishing one you currently live in. Comfort isn’t limited to the
padding of upholstered furniture. It extends to the emotional comfort
that comes from having a space that reflects, reinforces, and satisfies
you. A space that you can call home.
Before the current pandemic, many people worked away from home for at
least 8 to 10 or more hours a day. They would come home from work to
have dinner and relax a bit before going to sleep for another 6 to 8
hours before the cycle begins again. With many people forced to work
from home because of the pandemic, how comfortable it is has greater
When people think of antiques, their minds conjure up images of stuffy
rooms filled with old, uncomfortable furniture. Many in their 30s and
40s have succumbed to large overstuffed sectionals facing wide-screen
T.V.s—comfort and entertainment in one—but emotionally boring.
Each person is a combination of desires, wishes, tastes, wants, and
needs—the result of personal experiences, memories, family relations,
economic status, and work experience. All these things help to determine
a person’s individual outlook.
Most home interiors reflect one or more of the following general styles:
traditional, casual, country, romantic, cottage, high style, and
eclectic. Which style are you?
rooms can be as formal and decorative as you wish. Furniture styles
generally follow the elegant looks of the 17th, 18th, and early 19th
centuries. For those who can afford the higher prices of antiques made
during these centuries by such designers as Thomas Chippendale,
Heppelwhite, and Duncan Phyfe, this may be the style for you.
Accessories can be fine porcelains, bronze statues, and luxurious
antique Middle Eastern or Oriental rugs.
If you follow a simpler lifestyle, then perhaps a casual interior is for
you. Rooms are open, clean, light and bright. Window treatments are
simple. Furniture may be playfully colored in pastels or primaries, or
be neutral-colored naturals and tends to follow a mix-and-match sort of
arrangement. Textures may be smooth or rustic. But whatever the colors
and textures, the emphasis is on easy-care, openness, simplicity and
room to move around.
interiors are warm and cozy—the kind that make you want to curl up by a
sparkling fire. They employ furniture styles from the 17th and 18th
centuries which are not as formal or delicate as those of traditional
rooms. These pieces most likely will have come from farmhouses and
houses of working class people. Unlike the refined varnished woods of
the traditional style, these are often painted.
If you’re an incurable romantic, then rooms with playful but simple
furnishings are what you’re after. Like casual rooms, they’re warm and
full of memories, much like country rooms. Whimsical accessories, such
as lacy curtains that soften the light, and furniture which can be
contemporary or traditional, but never heavy, characterize this look.
offset of the romantic style is the English cottage look. Here, colors
come from the islands while exotic touches accent comfortable, softly
upholstered furniture. Anything that sparks fantasies or thoughts of
long ago and far away can create a romantic room.
High Style interiors are dramatic, relying on experimental color
schemes, strong lights and darks, luxurious fabrics and leathers, and
clean, spare lines for their impressive effect. Art Deco and Mid-Century
Modern furnishings are called for in these rooms. Less is more is the
you’re a collector of just about anything, then the eclectic style is
for you. Rooms are usually a combination of whatever strikes your fancy,
from fine antiques in traditional styles to country and modern pieces
thrown in. Heirlooms and hand-me-downs fit well into an eclectic
arrangement. Eclectic rooms are not meant to be "catch-alls" for
whatever doesn’t fit in elsewhere. Instead, successful ones depend on
careful editing of the objects in them.
Mix Them Up
Some people furnish every room in their house, condo, or apartment in
the same style. You may want to consider mixing them up. Make each room
different in style but use the same colors in different amounts in each
room to tie them all together. And don’t forget to study the different
styles of furnishings down through the centuries.
You may want to consider decorating your living room in a more formal
Victorian style while making your dining room Edwardian, one bedroom in
Arts and Crafts, another in country Victorian, and so on.
If you like to collect things, don’t spread them all over your house,
but create displays where they are most appropriate to the style of the
As I scan through my Facebook posts each day, I see photos of people’s
home interiors. Some are beautifully done, others need a bit of help.
This editorial is dedicated to all of you. And during this pandemic, you
may have time to make some changes, large or small.
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