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Using Antiques in Contemporary Interiors

DESIGN VALUES

June 2023
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Great interiors have often relied on colliding contrasts, cultures and eras, and it’s those unexpected layers that keep it interesting. Our founder Tim Oulton’s background was in antiques and vintage is a huge inspiration in our designs, but what we’re most interested in is the coalescence of old and new – colliding those two worlds together to make something fresh and exciting.

Tim dealt in antiques for over 30 years, it was in his blood and he loved it. Pictured is a collection of antique Chesterfield sofas and other pieces from the Rare by Oulton antiques collection.

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Back in the early days, he would buy any Chesterfield sofa put in front of him - even the broken ones, using his knowledge of materials and craftsmanship to restore them to new. Today, that passion burns strong with Timothy Oulton's modernly mastered Chesterfield Collection.

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But Tim felt that just buying an antique, refurbishing it and then selling it wasn't an interesting or creative process - although it was very enjoyable. That's when he started designing. He said let's borrow from the antique - 4,000 years of design out there, why wouldn't you borrow from it, but let's make it interesting. It's about making antiques relevant; great finishes, great leather, all borrowed from the past, great chandeliers - but do something interesting with them.

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GYRO CRYSTAL CHANDELIER

Our Gyro Crystal chandelier encases a crystal chandelier in an iron cage, and our Match Point installation creates a ceiling rose from vintage tennis rackets.

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BRANCO CHAIR

With its scalloped edges and hand-studded detailing, the Branco armchair is inspired by a Georgian nursing chair, paired with a Regiment side table echoing military drums.

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Vintage trunks are a great example of antiques being relevant in modern interiors. There's just something perennially enduring about them. There are currently around 160 trunks in the Rare by Oulton collection, which you can see parts of displayed in our galleries across the world. They're mainly Louis Vuitton and some Goyard, many of which are extremely rare.

There's something so beautiful about the handcraftsmanship of these old trunks, the worn patina of the leather, and the incredible detail that went into each piece - right down to the locks and handles. And trunks are so versatile, you can use them in any room.

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globetrekker chest

Our Globetrekker chest, trunk, and side table collection reinterprets an antique trunk into a function furniture collection, swapping the original canvas exterior for an industrial Aero finish, while keeping the traditional wooden banding and leather handles. The Side Saddle chair in quilted Buck'dn Brok'n has a strong heritage feel laced with a rugged contemporary edge.

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stonyhurst coffee table

The important thing when you're designing a space is not just what it looks like, but how it makes you feel. A vintage leather chesterfield sofa like our Westminster Feather sofa in Vagabond Red makes a statement on its own, but put it next to a modern coffee table in sleek glass or something unexpected such as our Stonyhurst coffee table in cowhide and it changes the whole feel of the room. Layers of texture and contrast always give depth to a space.

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In 1880, a members' club in Singapore designed by Timothy Oulton Studio, a collection of over 400 antique silver teapots has been used to clad the bar in the members' lounge. It's a lovely element of surprise in an otherwise contemporary space.

Something that just looks pretty won't stand the test of time, it needs to have meaning because people want to feel connected with their surroundings. We always say that you don't want to fill your home with furniture, you want to fill it with stories.

Discover more about our Studio

"Vintage never dies, it has a story, and that’s what draws people to it."

Tim Oulton