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How to use antique tables in a modern setting – everything you need to know


Whether buying pieces to furnish a commercial interior such as a hotel or office, or a client’s home,  decorating with different colours and patterns, and furnishing it from different eras, can be fashionable and fresh. However, there are a few things to bear in mind to ensure the space looks considered, rather than chaotic.

Mix furniture styles

A great rule of thumb when placing antique pieces in a modern setting is to limit the number of styles. So, pairing an Art Deco walnut dining table, for example, with Knoll swivel chairs will create harmony and balance. The repetition and consistency that using a complete set of chairs creates will make any room look more coherent.

Balance the space

It can be easy, particularly in larger spaces, to create zones from different eras, but this creates a room that is off-balance. Instead, consider each piece individually and allocate a companion piece from a different era. Not only will this create balance, but it allows the eye to travel round the room smoothly and easily. Using a Victorian hall table accessorised with a mid-century lamp will provide a focal point and add character.

Choose a colour palette

The eclectic mix of antique tables set against contemporary furniture and accessories creates impact in a room, which can reduce the need for dramatic walls. A neutral palette will allow furniture pieces to shine in their own right, but where you prefer a colour, go for bold so that it doesn’t get ‘lost’.

In a modern setting, an antique table can lend authenticity and gravitas to a space, adding a layer of elegance to its surroundings, but what kinds of table are there to choose from?

Antique coffee tables

The first tables to be designed and marketed specifically as ‘coffee’ tables were manufactured in 1868 by E W Godwin. Antique sofa tables pre-date what we now know as a coffee table and were used  alongside highbacked settees in the first coffee houses of the 18th century.

Antique console tables

A console table is a long, slender table designed originally to be positioned in entranceways and hallways. With one flat side that allows them to be placed up against a wall, an antique console table would have an ornate mirror displayed above it and could also sit between two large windows.

Antique dining tables

The price of antique dining tables can fluctuate considerably from a few hundred pounds to in excess of £10,00 with an average price being around £3,000. When shopping for an antique dining table for sale, beware of pieces that may have been altered, for example table legs that do not marry up with the table top.

Antique side table

A most useful type of table, an antique side table can be used to rest drinks on, with 18th century tripod designed examples being used to serve supper or house tantaluses. Today, an antique side table is ideal for an occasional lamp table and will sit beautifully alongside a modern sofa or chair.

Today, our living and working environments need to be liveable and the addition of antique tables is the perfect way to make a statement or add a discreet accent. At Hemswell Antique Centres, we have supported private collectors and corporate project managers in the refurbishment of numerous commercial projects, from hotels and office spaces, to private properties, but we understand it can be difficult to view our pieces in person. A selection of period furniture is available to view online, but for larger commercial projects, or for overseas clients, you can book a virtual shopping tour and experience a one-to-one tour of our buildings, accompanied by our Managing Director. Contact us in advance to discuss the types of pieces you would like to view and we will highlight suitable examples that we can showcase using our state-of-the-art video facilities.

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