SOMETHING IS HAPPENING. A TREND IS AFOOT. It’s very early, but I can feel it in my bones (and I can see it in the IG feeds of some of my favorite trendy vintage dealers, who have all somehow mysteriously and simultaneously begun to pivot away from their postmodern). Buckle up, folks, because I’m here to talk about the rise of the bold antique revival. Today, I’m highlighting rooms filled with colors, pattern, wallpaper, and most exciting of all: the return of precious, detailed, darker antique furniture. (There is nary a blonde wood, mid-century piece, or sparse room to be seen in this post!) 4 years ago, I jumped on the postmodern train and scored an apartment’s worth of (now-) very-trendy 80s furniture for free…so hopefully, if this post inspires you, you’ll be able to hop on board early and grab some vintage pieces for next to nothing.
But before we get too in the weeds, I need to clarify that I’m not heralding the rise of eclectic or collected or classic maximalist style – today’s deep-dive on a very specific intentional, tapered, measured, and bright iteration of traditional. We’re not talking about “grandma’s cool house packed to rafters with years of treasure from her worldly travels” here. This upcoming trend, to me, feels more precise and thoughtful and almost palatial – kind of like if Marie Antoinette lived in a 2021. Imagine a mix of French and Grecian Revival pieces paired with a splash of Hollywood Regency, a pinch of 1930s Art Deco, a dash of Chinoiserie, blended in a 21st-century shaker and served with a sprig of like…South Carolina prep. It’s formal, polished, finished, and statement-making, but your surfaces will not cluttered, you won’t have to spend all weekend dusting knickknacks, and you’re giving all your pieces room to shine in their own right. OKAY, ENOUGH YAPPING FROM ME. Let me show you what I’m talking about!!!
I had to lead with my favorite photo in the post, because it sums up what we’ll be dissecting today. This room, my friends, is a masterclass in balancing the intersection of formal and playful. The marquetry cabinet is an absolute high-end showstopper that’s so well-balanced by the bold wallpaper, modern art, geometric lamp, sparkling copper & brass urn, and whimsical dishes. Styled in a different setting, this vintage piece totally could have read as fussy but in this room, it comes off as warm and welcoming. ARE YOU CATCHING MY DRIFT?
But okay, maybe you want an example with a little less color and pattern…that’s cool. Here’s some rooms for you, too! I think my favorite thing about this style is that it takes the pieces that formerly existed in my grandma’s sitting room (you know, the one where no one was allowed to sit or touch anything) and it turns them into functional, everyday staples. It almost feels a little self-indulgent and self-care-y to let yourself enjoy the most formal pieces in your most informal spaces. (Basically what I’m trying to say is that this trend is the furniture equivalent of using your wedding china every day. Treat yourself! You deserve it!)
Ah, YES. Using a bar cart here could have felt simple or small or played-out – but if you have a dresser or cabinet you love, why not throw some glass on top and use it as a serving area? Additional pro: I have it on good authority from the folks at Wertz Brothers (an enormous LA warehouse with very good IG stories of their inventory; worth a follow even if you’re not in the area if you love vintage furniture!) that true antiques are super-well priced right now as most folks scramble for a very limited inventory of ’70s and ’80s pieces. Like, guys, you can save money AND be an early adopter. WIN/WIN.
When Jess DMed me the room on the right, I gasped. Studio Ashby is incredible at mixing old and new. I’m not saying you need to go full-on Bridgerton in your home, but even adding a few classic wooden vintage pieces – even in tiny doses, like as nightstands – bring a ton of heart and soul to your room. Plus, HOW GOOD ARE THOSE NEEDLEPOINT PILLOWS on the left?!?
Saturated Color Palettes
Oh my gosh, have you ever seen primary colors look THIS sophisticated? Like, if someone told me in passing that they were considering a blue wallpaper with yellow curtains (and valances) with a coral chair I woulda been like, “uh, pal, are you planning for Peewee’s Playhouse? Maybe don’t do that?” but this room…this is well done. It’s bright without being blinding and happy without coming off like a McDonalds Playplace. 100000/10. Bonus: peek at that canopy through the tinted mirror!
Full disclosure: I am really struggling not to straight-up steal this color scheme (including the striped bed frame, honestly) for my own bedroom. But look a little deeper – those are vintage nightstands, a curtain with valances, and a sconce with a very traditional shape, yet they all feel very fresh and new. Playing with paint – yes, you can do your walls, paint, and trim in 3 different colors – and being bold with your decor color choices can really pay off!
SWOON. This speaks to my minimalist maximalist roots. (I guess that the end of the day, not much has changed aside from my preferred finishes and eras.) We have a lot of classic elements here, like the fringed sofa and the Jenny Lind legs, but everything is really brightened up by the bold red-and-white stripe that echoes the color of the built-in arch. (Side note: You remember Jenny Lind from the Greatest Showman? Well, uh, Jenny Lind was actually a really famous opera singer and she’s the namesake of all these circle-shaped wood-turning furniture pieces! If you ever see a kids’ Jenny Lind bed, you owe it to the real Jenny Lind!)
The magic of stripes: they’re classic and timeless without being too much. It’s a bold and fun statement that will continue to work with a ton of furniture and decor styles. You can take it from me, a chronically indecisive person who has held onto a vintage black-and-white striped couch like the holy grail despite switching every other item in my apartment endlessly. If you’re pattern shy, this is the best way to test the waters!
HELLO MARIE ANTOINETTE. Your palace awaits, girl!!! These are not the bitsy, floral print floral papers of yore, y’all – these wallpapers are here to make big, bold, and occasionally mural-esque statements. But let’s break it down a bit more: while being very traditional, the hall on the left and the console table on the right are anything but stuffy. On the left, the blue painted ceiling brightens up the space and the wallpaper adds a ton of whimsy (can you guys imagining Swiffer-ing in there? How FUN would cleaning be?) while the bar set up on the right makes a very traditional console table feel a little less precious.
SO COZY. The brass canopy and vanity could read super punctilious, but they’re made warm and cozy by contrasting patterns, a homemade quilt, and a tablecloth. I’m a huge fan of this idea: is there anything in your home that feels a little too precious that you could tone down with a table runner? Give it a whirl, friend!!
We hit the jackpot on the left, pals! SO many vintage pieces – everything from that entry table to the chair in the back to the gilded mirror and frames up the stairs – anchored by a huge wallpaper, timeless rug, fun stair runner, and bold chandelier. Let this be a lesson to you in the art of pattern patching – intent and confidence are everything! If a chair reupholstered in neon pink can work with two different red rugs, you can play with color in your own home, too! I also had to include something for our future parents (yes, that’s a Jenny Lind crib!) – get a load of this bold wallpaper along with that aged end table in the corner.
How special are both of these?! That one-of-a-kind floor lamp is jaw-dropping (this shot was pulled from a primary bedroom tour, but the whole home is worth a look!) when paired with this luxurious setup. I know it seems like a lot, but guys, that’s only TWO PIECES OF FURNITURE WITH A LAMP. The rest is just wall art, color, and pattern. When it comes to the new bold traditional style, little things are doing a lot of heavy lifting! And somehow, the gilded, marble-topped table on the right is toned down by the saturated wall color, statement mirror, and bright lamps. Lesson: both these vignettes have very high impact despite being pretty sparse. Budget-conscious pals, use these kinds of details to your advantage!
Another find from our very own Jess!!! I swear, y’all, the true highlight of working at EHD is finding a bunch of gals I can DM about interior design photos 🙂 Being said, how bold and confident is this design? I love how this lamp really bridges eras – it speaks to the ginger jar and the finial echoes the mirror and framing, so it’s really the key piece that’s holding this space together. Plus, that pitched shade holds its own and gives some gorgeous textural contrast to that tubular copper chair!
Not to call too far back to the beginning of the post, but we actually started out by looking at a lot of vintage casegoods topped with very modern lamps…so let’s go back there for a second. This shot is almost a more masculine or neutral version of the first shot we broke down – we still have the bold wallpaper, modern art, metallic vessels, and standout geometric lamp. The overall look is VERY different, but the formula is the same. We can get this look at home, too!
Tailored Curtains with Valances
Well, first, uh, HEY, CABANA STRIPE. Nice to see you deep in the post! But what a game-changer these stunning, uber-tailored curtains are (anyone else feel relieved when they see a drape fall at exactly the right length?). I know that you’re oogling the shape of the valance and pleating, but please take a peek at the tiny, appropriate version on the right – while we at EHD are traditionally evangelists of the floor-length drape in all situations, this room proves that rules can be broken. You know, especially when you’re taking a ton of exciting design risks. ARE YOU SOLD YET?
This one and the next one were other Jess finds – I had asked if she had any great sculptural valance inspiration and MY GAL DELIVERED. These are PRECISE. I’m a huge fan of this room because it comes off as pretty 20th century – beige walls, beige carpet, simple trim, etc. – but MY GOSH, isn’t it elevated by these window treatments? They change the whole tone of the space! Valances are coming back, pals, and you can take that to the bank!!!
First off, how lucky are would you be to find an interior designer willing to help you make such gorgeous custom-shaped drapery? And second off, WOW. Similarly, I love this because it highlights that you can turn a fairly normal, neutral, carpeted room into an oasis – you don’t need vintage architecture when you can design special features yourself! Bespoke items mixed with vintage touches make this feel like a TOTALLY fresh, special, one-of-a-kind space.
Ah, a quick resting place for my minimalists who have been shocked and jarred by the amount of color and pattern in the post! This is another absolute favorite of mine – we have a mix of antique nightstands, a grounding and saturated solid rug, and a casual stripe with a special shape. This is one of those “WHO, ME? I woke up like this” rooms that feels effortless and calm but looks like a gosh darn knockout.
Another quick resting place for those who need one – we’re fully vintage in this room and it’s clean, manageable, and elevated without feeling too fuddy-duddy. If you’re looking for a sign to splurge on a special bed, this is it (plus, I recently just somehow learned that we spend FOUR WHOLE MONTHS per year IN OUR BEDS). Basically, it’s time to make your home a relaxing, warm, soulful, inviting retreat 🙂
But we can go a teensy bit more muted if you absolutely need to. I love the formula that’s starting to brew: special bed, cool walls, floral print, demilune table, white bedding, vintage rug, tiny floral arrangement. You can do this at home! I promise!
Another Jess find, serving as proof that dark ornate vintage wood can work in ANY type of space. Look how these two beds glow against the rough texture of the walls and beams! The shining frames are balanced out by some calm, textured bedding. Sure, these would look stunning all done up with some wallpaper and window treatments, but they look just as lovely when they take the starring role in a more sparse space. Leanne Ford is VERY talented and we should all take a page out of her book 🙂
A Little Lacquer
A GAL’S GOTTA HAVE HER GLAM. I get it. If antique natural-toned wood isn’t your thing, you’re in luck! Lacquer up one of those vintage babies and go to town! Kelly Wearstler did it TWICE in this shot so you know I’m not leading you astray!
As always, I don’t want to lose my lovers of neutral, so I wanted to bring you some bold black and white inspiration, too. Lacquer brings a whole new level of sophistication to these pieces – can you imagine them in a blonde wood, Scandi-inspired instead? No thank you! I know you probably don’t want your home to feel like the Caesar’s Palace in Vegas (and for what it’s worth, I also don’t want your home to feel like the Caesar’s Palace in Vegas) but a few hits of shine can really take a room to the next level.
Huge fan of this iteration because it feels really achievable – if you have a neutral bed frame at home and you stumble upon the opportunity to add a lacquered vintage chest in place of a nightstand, bring it home and try it out! This adds a ton of soul and personality (not to mention shelf space!) to a room that could easily swing boho or mid-century with a simple switch of nightstand and decor.
Classic Regency Touches (That Are Super Achievable)
If you’ve been reading this and you’re like “hey girl, I like this but I don’t think I can pull it off in my home, this would be a very drastic shift,” I’d love to present the above photo to you by the extremely talented, Jessica of Domicile37. Buds, there’s not that much going on here – just a bold color, bold wallpaper, a sofa, and a cabana-striped chair with some classic regency lucite & leopard mixed in! My inner maximalist and my inner minimalist are at peace knowing that I’ve found a style that does SO MUCH without requiring SO MANY unachievable things. (PS. EHD Jess told me that leopard wasn’t a thing with this trend and after sending this, she reneged and was like “you’re right leopard is totally a thing, MY BAD!”)
And of course, we couldn’t forget about our classic finishing touches!!! Take a quick peek at those roped-tassels on the left and the leopard print on the right – when it comes to the bold new traditional style, BOTH ARE WELCOME. Classic Hollywood called and they want to talk to you and your new space because it is FUN AND TIMELESS.
At the end of the day, I think that actually sums it up – sure, this may be a lot of color or pattern for some folks, but it’s survived the test of time. At this point, no one will ever look at a vintage Bombay chest and think “oh my gosh, that shape is DONE” (she wrote, while staring with disdain at her butter-yellow, wavy, 1980s sideboard). The thing I love most about the new bold traditional is that it really truly IS timeless – when it comes to these antiques, you’ll have total freedom to style and play around them in a way that I don’t think I really appreciated until now.
At first, I thought that my transition away from my Toontown-aesthetic was driven solely by familiarity and mass adoption (e.g. “I’ve had these vintage pieces for 4 years, time to swap” and “wow, postmodern pieces are available everywhere, time to move on,” but after so much pinning and planning and thinking, I have a newfound appreciation for the longevity and flexibility of true antiques). I’m so excited to see my favorite IG furniture dealers starting to dip their toes into this space – because, you know, even I have to admit that a marquetry cabinet is of definitively higher quality than my laminate counterparts – and I’m really excited and hopeful to see what this next iteration of interior design brings forward.
In any case, I’M SO CURIOUS ABOUT YOUR THOUGHTS. Is this too dated for you? Are you excited that your pieces are coming back en-vogue? In case you’re not familiar, vintage furniture is kind of like MY ONLY PASSION and I want to talk about it all day, every day, so let’s battle it out!!! The new bold traditional: HOT OR NOT?