Paula Sutton’s Instagram posts are never full of new and shiny pieces. Instead, they’re a testament to preloved and well-worn furniture and decorative accessories, and the depth and texture they bring to the home.
In this month’s column, she tells us why she loves shopping for antiques and filling her Hill House home with one-off and surprising pieces.
Adding interest to a room with antiques
‘I’ve always thought that the most interesting faces are the ones that show signs of a life well lived. The ones that have much-used laughter lines and the familiarity of a ‘well-trodden path’ of creases,’ says Paula. ‘Beautiful faces are the ones that reflect the rich tapestry of years filled with experience and wisdom…
I feel exactly the same way about furniture. The use of vintage and antique furniture in an interior can add history, substance and depth to even the most starkly modern of interior spaces. Older pieces add historical ‘texture’, injecting character and revealing their own signs of being used and loved with each exquisite imperfection. Worn like badges of honour – a scuff here, a worn-down edge there – these are all things of beauty and wisdom.
‘Sourcing antiques may mean browsing a local store or market, or shop for antiques from the comfort of your home. The hunt can be as enjoyable as the treasure found at the end.’
Timeless vintage style
‘Antiques and vintage pieces usually survive for one of three reasons. They are either very beautiful – far too beautiful to be dismissed and replaced. Or they are much loved and hold a significance too strong to ignore. Most of all, they are so solidly well made that they have survived the various slings and arrows of time and wear.
The vintage-hunter’s jackpot is finding a piece that is all of these three things. In a practical sense, it is a testament to the wisdom of the original craftsmen that their creations can be passed down through generations. The sturdiness of dovetail joints or the artistry of a scalloped Knapp joint took time and skill to learn, as well as an understanding of aesthetic value. Creating a lasting legacy out of great beauty? There is great wisdom in that.’
Interior designer Henrietta von Stockhausen is another expert who like decorating with antiques and says connecting to the past helps to bring a sense of history and connection to a home.
Mixing antique and new pieces
Like designer Matthew Williamson, Paula likes to combine new and vintage pieces to create a distinctive look.
‘There is always a place for the thrill of new and exciting pieces in a home, but personally, I prefer to mix those items with things that can quietly tell a story of a previous life without overshadowing everything else,’ she says.
‘The beauty of incorporating older pieces is that they can feel relaxed and be gathered or collected over time, so never be afraid to mix different styles and eras of furnishings. An evolved and well-loved home is eclectic and interesting and should be an expression of the homeowner’s life and personality, not necessarily a replica of a bygone era.
Telling the story of your home
‘When we buy something old or preloved, we are not merely observers; we become an essential part of the journey. Adding our own personal touches by renewing, reupholstering or repurposing can ensure that we help to elaborate on the narrative by writing a new chapter.
‘In a world where so much is regrettably throwaway, there is a sense of permanence in choosing pieces that have seen a life before us, and which may even see a life after we have gone. To rejoice in the much- used ‘laughter lines’ of vintage and antique furniture is to enjoy a life that has been well – and beautifully – lived.’