Age in a modern world

Contemporary home design is no longer all about sleek, sterile environments. The minimalist movement has turned a softer cheek as the need for a more comforting home base became apparent.

This welcoming country dining room combines century-old pine planks with stylish polished nickel light fixtures to produce the new

This welcoming country dining room combines century-old pine planks with stylish polished nickel light fixtures to produce the new

Contemporary home design is no longer all about sleek, sterile environments.

The minimalist movement has turned a softer cheek as the need for a more comforting home base became apparent.

There will always be an important place for cutting edge design; this evolutionary process is both exciting and inspiring.

If you are missing the comfort factor in your design plan, there is a way to embrace the best of both contemporary and traditional. Transform a room into a welcoming oasis by infusing some history into the mix.

How do you do this?

Hand-me-downs are a start. You may have a nostalgic grouping of ancestral photos in antique frames, an old rocking chair, an heirloom carpet, or granny’s china cabinet.

These pieces hold memories that connect you in an instant to thoughts of family and home. However, the history doesn’t have to be personal.

Age is the priceless commodity. Age, and a handmade touch.

Recycling, the New Age mantra, has grown into big business. Buying furniture can be a real adventure when one of your guidelines is that the chosen piece has lineage.

Antique shops and stores that specialize in collections from popular decades, estate sales and flea markets are all fascinating shopping destinations. For those who enjoy refinishing and reupholstering, reusing good quality furniture is a satisfying way to personalize your home.

On a larger scale, companies such as Restoration Hardware have been very successful at merging history with a fresh modern approach.

Their tables are handmade from solid reclaimed pine timbers taken from 100-year-old buildings in Britain.

The gray tones of the aged raw wood have an unfinished touch that makes a great complement to modern interiors. The country setting shown here is a stunning example of old meets new.

Old plank shelves are supported with steel and sit on industrial wheels.

The ageless farmhouse table sits on a natural Seagrass rug. And two large steel pendant lamps that have today’s popular polished nickel finish punctuate the updated mood.

Barn board and drift wood both bring a feeling of history installed as shelves or a mantel for the fireplace.

Depending where you find it, recycled wood may require some work. A good sanding will take care of splinters, any nail holes add to the history of the piece, and you can leave the wood raw or polish it, or apply stain or a white wash if it suits your purpose.

Bed quilts, wall tapestries, embroidered linens and hand-stitched fabrics bring life and detail to an otherwise stark interior.

Their intricate patterns and joyous colourways have been handed down through the ages, repeated and enriched by each generation of artisans.

It’s impossible not to be touched by such handiwork; the stories and symbolism captured within the fabrics bring life to any space they inhabit.

If you are searching for that comfort fix to complete your home decor, look to aged wood, traditional leathers and textured upholstery, and items with that made by hand feel.

Whether you buy new, recycle and refinish, or create them yourself, these are the pieces that will never grow new, trendy or dated.

Debbie Travis’ House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Please email your questions to house2home@debbietravis.com. You can follow Debbie on Twitter at www.twitter.com/debbie_travis