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.


Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.


Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…


OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…


MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.


Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."


'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.


'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."


TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.


Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.


Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.


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.


Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.


Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…


NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.


The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.