How to decorate with antiques with The Peak of Chic

“In with the Old: Classic Decor from A to Z”  is a guide to 20th century design. Credit: Copyright ©2013 by Erica George Dines
“In with the Old: Classic Decor from A to Z” is a guide to 20th century design.
Credit: Copyright ©2013 by Erica George Dines

Jennifer Boles wrote the manual on classic design. The House Beautiful contributing editor and blogger behind is an expert on what she calls the “design greats from the past.” She weaves together tips and history in her book, “In with the Old: Classic Decor from A to Z.” We spoke with Boles, who will be at the Philadelphia Antiques Show this weekend, about mixing the old with the new.

Who are your biggest design influences?

I greatly admire the work of designers Billy Baldwin and Albert Hadley, both of whom helped to define classic American decorating. Both designers were adept at coupling classic, traditional design and modern decorative elements. I also respect the late Dorothy Draper, whose work at The Greenbrier and The Carlyle hotel exudes great flair and exuberance.

Can anyone incorporate antiques into their home, or does it only work in certain spaces?

Antiques work just as well in contemporary houses as they do in more traditional interiors. In a contemporary home, antiques help to soften the sometimes cold, hard lines of modern architecture. Also, keep in mind that one of the advantages to decorating with antiques is that their patina introduces depth and maturity to an interior, which is a nice counterpoint to those furnishings that are brand new.

How do you choose antiques if you don’t know anything about them? Do you need to become an expert first?

If you want to start collecting antiques, it is a good idea to become educated about them. Train your eye by visiting antiques shows, museums and antiques shops. Talk to dealers, most of whom are more than happy to discuss the finer points of collecting. That being said, it is not necessary to become an expert first. Buy what you love, but buy within your means.

What’s your favorite piece you have in your home?

My home is a mix of inherited antiques and 20th century design classics, such as a lacquered parsons table and a corkscrew-base drinks table. These furnishings work well together because classic pieces partner well with one another, no matter whether one piece dates to the 19th century and the other to the 1960s. My favorite piece in my home might just be a 19th century English pier mirror, which once hung in my childhood home.


Boles’ top 5 tips

1. Buy the best that you can afford. Good quality is money well spent.

2. Collect something, whether it is antique, porcelain, black and white photography, or books. Collections add personality to a home.

3. Classic furnishings — such as a slipper chair, a parsons table or a klismos chair — never go out of style, which make them good design investments.

4. One of the most economical ways to change the look of a room is with a can of paint. Changing out a room’s wall color can do wonders for that room.

5. A bedroom should be cozy and comfortable, and one way of achieving that is with wall-to-wall carpet. Generally speaking, I’m not a fan of wall-to-wall carpet, but I do think it does wonders in a bedroom, where it helps to create a sense of warmth and coziness.


Meet the expert

Learn about 20th century design from Boles on Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the 53rd annual Philadelphia Antiques Show. The show runs April 26-29 at the Convention Center (11th and Arch streets, Tickets to Boles’ talk are $35 and include general admission.


PHOTO: Queen Elizabeth pulls off epic photobomb

The selfie / photobomb has gone viral.


Astoria minivan crash kills 1, injures 6: NYPD

Anthony Boyd, 45, died soon after what investigators believe was some sort of medical emergency as he drove his family through Astoria on Sunday afternoon.


NYC pension funds valued at $160b: Scott Stringer

The five NYC pension funds that thousands of city employees contribute to saw its fifth year in a row of increased returns, up $23 billion from last year.


Sierra Leone Ebola patient, recovered from family, dies…

An Ebola patient whose family sparked a nationwide hunt when they forcefully removed her from a treatment center and took her to a traditional healer has died.


Kacy Catanzaro credits mind over body in "American…

Kacy Catanzaro credits her victory to mental focus and upper body strength.


The 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' trailer is…

Watch 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' trailer.


Newport Folk Festival: Photo gallery of 35 moments…

As has been the tradition since Bob Dylan plugged in a bajillion years ago, the Newport Folk Festival embraces more musical genres than its name implies.


MKTO: Behind the bromance

MKTO's Malcolm Kelley and Tony Oller talk about the American Dream tour, Demi Lovato and getting turned down by girls.


Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”


Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.


Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…


Yankees GM Brian Cashman breaks down art of…

The action frequently accelerates as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches, as it will on Thursday.


Amazon offers 3D printing to customize earrings, bobble…

By Deepa SeetharamanSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Inc will offer 3D printing services that allow customers to customize and build earrings, bobble head toys and…


This Week In Health: Friends share similar DNA,…

Friends share similar DNA, study finds Location: U.S. Study subjects: Nearly 2,000 people Results: When it comes to our social networks, it seems that birds of…


Are liberal arts colleges turning away from the…

Bryn Mawr College, a small women's college located just outside of Philadelphia, announced last week that it would be making standardized tests like the SAT…


Recent grads discover school superintendent plagiarized parts of…

  Two recent high school graduates made a surprising discovery about the commencement speech their school superintendent delivered at their graduation: portions of it was copied…