HOME IDEAS: Layering of Ages

There is a natural sense of history when working with antiques. Each piece of furniture is a talking point in itself with regard to its use of materials, historical functionality and workmanship.

When designing with antiques or their reproduction in a contemporary setting, the idea is not to replicate the time period of the past but to layer its essence into our modern environment. A right balance between modern and traditional needs to be established, otherwise the design may risk being kitsch.

Using the BASF Learning Campus at Rochester Park (designed by Forum Architects) as an example, we look at four design tips that can be used to integrate the past into the present with relevance.

Tip 1: Visualising moods (ambience)

Decide on the mood and the theme of design before embarking on the selection of furniture. Adjectives such as “warm, calming, confident” will assist you in determining the character of the space. Upon selection of the adjectives, choose a colour palette that is resemblant of the mood. From there, you can base your furniture, room material and colour palette on that “key concept”, which will help blend the different interior elements together.

Art gallery visits are great sources of inspiration. Look at a painting or sculpture that resonates with you. Then make a mental note of the colour or material selection and the emotions evoked from this experience.


Warm reception: Using green, brown and cream


Calming reflection: Using blue, white and golden brown


Tip 2: Creating zones (space)

Colours are useful in consolidating sets of furniture. When inserting an odd/unique piece of furniture, simply change its colour either by painting or lacquering its frame. This can unify the furniture. Note, however, that too much of the same kind of furniture can be boring to the eye in a larger space setting. It is advisable to separate the furniture into different zones. The sets of furniture can then display their differentiated, yet choreographed, colours. A key point is to have a common denominator of colour or material so that the different groups can gel together.


Customise antique furniture by retaining one or two elements of that era, such as the legs or materials used



Tip 3: New uses (object)

Objects and architectural elements such as vases and antique doors can be fitted for new use as lamps or floor partitions respectively. For screens that are fitted against a wall or flight of stairs, reflective mirrors can be used to maintain the visual porosity of the screen. A long cabinet chest can be used on end walls to create a focal point in the living space. It can be paired with a contemporary art work to complete the look.


An antique-inspired screen forms part of the staircase construction



Carve out furniture zones for variation and interest


Tip 4: Abstraction (detail)

Where customisation is possible, identify the unique element of that era, whether it is the legs, the crown of the chair or simply the materials used during that period. To make them slightly more contemporary, simplify the ornamentation of the design by highlighting only one or two elements you want to showcase on the furniture.


Customisation of antique inspired pieces at Just Anthony


Change the colour of antique furniture to fit into the overall design


Goy Zhenru previously worked for Forum Architects to complete BASF Learning Campus in 2014. She currently runs her own design studio GOY. She can be reached at goyzhenru@gmail.com.



This article appeared in The Edge Property Pullout, Issue 713 (February 1, 2016) of The Edge Singapore. 

Read original article HERE