Contemporary or Vintage?

grandma.mirrorWe recently moved to a new home with a very contemporary feel. All the lighting fixtures, the appliances, countertops, and the general architectural layout scream MODERN. Lots of granite and slate. Problem? I love old things. That’s my grandmother’s mirror in the photo and I still use it every day to check the back of my hair:) It sits on my bathroom vanity and I simply love it. Still, I made a vow when I moved in, this house will be decorated with contemporary furniture.

One reason: my mother just gave me a coffee-with-cream colored contemporary leather sofa in great condition. And three pieces of semi-contemporary light oak furniture. (They’re a little bit French Country). We also have cream colored carpet. So everything is light. The walls are painted in one of those new neutral tones–light moss green that matches the filigree on my other grandmother’s china. No way am I getting rid of the traditional cherry wood china cabinet Al bought for me when I inherited that china.

I love dark furniture, Victorian trimmings, and gilded everything. But I have passed through my lace doily phase, much to Al’s relief. So. No Victorian in this modern house, or if, only mixed in for an eclectic look. Then we went furniture shopping. We have had a Paul Bunyan bedroom set from the day we married 28 years ago. Now it’s in the guest room. We wanted to treat ourselves to a new bedroom and my eye went straight to a French Country set in antique white. I knew it was too girly for Al. He didn’t like the brass headboards I showed him either.

By the time we’d viewed every bedroom in the store we came down to one we both loved. I do not know what to call it, but modern it is not. It’s pretty, not stark. Curvy, not “clean lines.” The headboard and mirror are gilded (yay!). It’s very Italian Rococo. Love it!! Which got me thinking. I really don’t want to have a totally modern home. There’s already the traditional china cabinet and stemware curio in dark cherry. There’s already some French Colonial pieces I cannot bear to part with. And instead of the bedside table that came with the flashy set, I opted for a plain old bookcase my mom and I found tucked in my grandmother’s basement. It’s simple but has a beautiful patina and is just the right height. I’m not getting rid of my grandma’s cedar chest (Pennsylvania Dutch, painted an antique white), either.

So, while I’m making some concessions to the new, I realized I’m just not ready to get rid of the best of my antique treasures. Al and I are still in discussion about the tall French Colonial bookcase, antiqued in a beautiful blue, in the foyer. We didn’t use to have a foyer. We’ll see who wins that one. I’ve got my vintage Shakespeare collection in there! It shall not be removed to the basement! We never had a basement before, either.

However this new house turns out (window treatments to be installed next week–furniture delivered then as well, we hope) I will always love both of my grandmothers’ things and am so grateful to have just a piece of them still in my life. Love never goes out of style.


  1. Cindy, a few years ago, I moved from an 80 year old Colonial to a very Contemporary house. As my furniture was all Early American, I worried how my stuff would look in the new house. But you know something – it’s worked fine. Combined with pictures, figurines, and wall color the blend of old and new go hand in hand.

    I say, surround yourselves with what makes your new home feel like ‘home’ and you’ll be happy.


  2. I think anything you chose will be fine and look great in your new home,can’t get used to men picking out furniture and house hold things,i’m old school.Wally never picked out anything,not even the houses we lived in.The house on Katherine,he we fishing and i gave him directions how to get there,your mom and I moved the furniture in a pick up truck to the new one.After 7 days of fishing he walked into a new home.I’ve always bought contemporary furniture,big clean lines easy to clean and pretty to look at,couches ,all our very large friends could feel at ease to sit on ,nothing fragile in our home.I guess you make it fit who you are and who you want to please and be comfortable ,I have lots of old things mixed in some girley some not but they fit who I am. Love my moms mirror xo Your home will be beautiful,because YOU are xo


    1. I think you might have given me grandma’s mirror. I’m not sure where I got my love of old things. Mom doesn’t have it, maybe every child wants the opposite of her mom:) And Al knows I’m the design chief! He sometimes has good ideas, but I rule. Except for his lazy boy!


  3. I love vintage things. I have my grandmother’s 1950’s sideboard and dressing table. I have an old manicure set on the dressing table, also from my grandmother, still in its original box. Beautiful 🙂

    I am looking forward to seeing your ‘mix’ of styles 🙂


    1. I had to give up my flea market find — $100 for an old sideboard in dark wood with lots of scrolling. I loved it! Got great use out of it for many years:)


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