Does living in a beautiful space make our lives more beautiful? I wonder if I lived in a grand mansion like Como House, filled with antiques and priceless artwork, would I still want to slouch under a throw rug and binge-watch the Bachelor whilst devouring a bag of popcorn? Or would the space encourage me to pursue more suitable pastimes, such as learning classical piano? I believe that the space we surround ourselves in, be it large or small, makes a strong suggestion as to the way we behave.

In my work as an interior designer, I’ve found most clients simply want to be comfortable and feel good in their home. They want a great atmosphere to entertain family and friends. Often, they will have a few pieces of furniture and artwork that carry meaning for them, and my work as a designer is to extend on those pieces and tap into how they want the space to feel. They don’t want a ‘display home’ that is just filled with trends, or a bland copy of a Pinterest image. A home needs to go deeper than that.

One sure way to ensure an authentic feeling of ‘home’ is by incorporating vintage or antique pieces into a space. The addition of an antique instantly makes an interior space unique and special, it can’t be copied by your neighbours with a quick trip to the nearest store. Antiques are rare, every piece is different with a story to tell.

Antiques instantly add soul and life to a space like nothing else can, and the best bit, they don’t need to be expensive. In fact, a lot of antique furniture is well-priced and ready and waiting for a new home to adopt it. Antiques were handmade at a time when things were built to last, unlike a lot of mainstream furniture that is sold on the market today. Incorporating antique pieces really is the ultimate in sustainability.

At the upcoming Como by Design event there will be a wide range of styles presented in the historical mansion, with a common thread. Twenty-seven of Melbourne’s most renowned interior decorators are participating, all of whom have designed bespoke pieces in each of their projects, produced by local workrooms and artisans. Fabrics are co-ordinated with contrasting piping or trims, they are not ‘off the shelf’ pieces. Antique pieces are reimagined, repurposed and upcycled in clever ways. For example, a French balcony wrought iron decorative grate has been repurposed into a console table by Brownlow Interior Design. Now this beautiful piece can be enjoyed for generations to come.

Mind you, filling up a room with an assortment of antiques in an unplanned, eclectic way is rarely a good idea. You may find yourself living in a space that resembles a rambling second-hand store, rather than a gorgeous comfortable home. Here are some examples of work by the designers showing at Como by Design, and some tips to get the mix right.

Details from Newtown Residence by Space, Grace & Style. Photo – Cricket Saleh, Styling – Megan Morton.

Details from Newtown Residence by Space, Grace & Style. Photo – Cricket Saleh, Styling – Megan Morton.

Details from Newtown Residence by Space, Grace & Style. Photo – Cricket Saleh, Styling – Megan Morton.

The home of Tamsin Carvan of Tamsin’s Table features charmingly mis-matched antique dining chairs. Photo – Eve Wilson.

This grand entry was once covered in ‘pub carpet from the 70s’according to Lucinda of Kimpton Interiors. They have designed a concept that is deserving of this gorgeous space. Scale is key; the table, light, mirror and décor items are all scaled up to fit perfectly in proportion here.

A moody interior with a bold combination of antique and new furnishings, by Brownlow Interior Design. Not only are the furniture proportions perfect in this space, to me it combines the perfect proportion of antiques and contemporary pieces. The antique lantern is a stunning selection, its large but transparent so not overpowering. The tan leather Cab chairs by Cassina are a prefect compliment and will patina beautifully over time. Photo – Christine Francis.

An antique French dresser in the home of Natasha Morgan, from  L J Tuddin Antiques, Inverloch. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

An antique French dresser in the home of Natasha Morgan, from  L J Tuddin Antiques, Inverloch. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

The brilliantly eclectic home of Sandra Powell and Andrew King combines antique furniture and a huge collection of contemporary artwork and street art. Photo – Eve Wilson.

Duck Feet Lamp by Porta Romana, with shade custom designed by Brownlow Interior Design. An antique French wrought iron balcony grate has been cleverly repurposed as a console table by Miguel Meirelles Antiques, complete with an antique Louis Philippe style mirror above.

It takes a trained eye to take an antique piece and reimagine it into something far from how it was intended. Brownlow Interior Design took an old riders’ boot and turned it into a fabulous lamp, a true one-of-a-kind conversation starter! It takes pride of place on a Hungarian antique console table which serves as a drinks table. Photo – Christine Francis.

This space by Moss uses a motif in the existing stained glass windowto guide the selection of the pendant light. The simple shape of the pendant light allows for the windows to be the focal point here. Photo – Martina Gemmola.

Melissa of Melissa Balzan Design combines a traditional brass lamp effortlessly with contemporary art with a focus on texture, rather than bold colour.  Photo by Hannah Caldwell, styled by Lucinda Bocain.

A collection of antique pieces that all show a beautifully worn patina in this project by Adelaide Bragg and Associates. Photo – Lisa Cohen, Styled by Tess Newman-Morris.

The combination of textures in this project by Adelaide Bragg and Associates captures what a Victorian Country Homestead is all about. It’s warm and tactile but not precious. Photo – Lisa Cohen, Styled by Tess Newman-Morris.

This space by Space, Grace & Style is exciting, it combines something old and worn with a gleaming ornate mirror together on a dark backdrop.  Photo – Cricket Saleh, Styling – Megan Morton.

A collection of antique pieces that all show a beautifully worn patina, in this project by Adelaide Bragg and Associates. Photo – Lisa Cohen, Styled by Tess Newman-Morris.

When of Camilla Molders Design When Camilla sourced this antique cabinet at Moss Green Auction House she told the client to ‘Buy it!’ and thankfully, they did. The saturated blue wall colour is the perfect complement show off this piece. Photo – Martina Gemmola.

Brownlow Interior Design have created a cohesive space whilst combining an antique chair and contemporary side table. These pieces work so well together as the single colour green ties them together. Photo – Christine Francis.

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