Today I introduce you to The Barn Antiques and Specialty Shops in beautiful Castle Rock Colorado for some advice on vintage decor. The Barn is a rustic, open space that was once home to a lumber company. The structure was built almost one hundred years ago, making it a charming setting for a sprawling array of old and new today. I spoke to manager Amy Smith, who offers a unique perspective on antique items and the many ways we can incorporate them into our lives.
Antiques Aren’t Just for Your Home
We often think of antiques as elaborately carved furniture or precious heirlooms in glass cases. Smith asserts, though, that shopping for antiques these days puts you in touch with some of the hottest design trends–and not just for home decor, but for weddings and parties as well. “A really popular thing right now is the rustic, romantic look. That’s also a huge trend for weddings. If you go on Pinterest you will notice that.” So, for brides who have spotted mismatched colored glass, vintage lace, burlap, jars, or worn wooden elements on Pinterest, an antique shop should be one of your first stops for inspiration.
Smith also reminds us that antique elements can be blended into many types of decor for upcoming holiday festivities. Adding a special vintage platter to a Thanksgiving table might be a great conversation piece for the family dinner. “I always love the unexpected. I recently took a bin from an old scale and put lace, velvet, and pumpkins inside,” she says.
I asked Smith about the strongest trends in the antiques market today, and I was pretty surprised at the answer. For some reason, I often associate gold-gilt furnishings and tapestries with antiques, but Smith points out the many ways that vintage items often show up in contemporary design. “Right now I think the trend is almost like a shabby chic meets industrial look. Anything that is primitive or farmhouse is huge right now. Also recycled farm house–with lots of old barn wood. But incorporating that into traditional decor as well, so it’s not all antique–just part of it. Today, it’s always old primitive furniture. Not so much stuffy and formal, like Chippendale furniture.”
Smith also reminds us that the shabby chic, industrial look is family friendly. If you are worried your little one might destroy antiques of the heirloom variety, then worn, distressed pieces might be a great fix.
Many of us have Pinterest boards brimming with vintage fabrics and furnishing, and in the real world we have no idea how to mix that with our existing furniture. Smith claims that the answer to that problem is easier than it seems, if you approach it from a designer’s perspective. “I think what I would suggest is go through magazines. Tear out anything you love. Use Pinterest. That way you can see how the mix would go together.You have to have a plan. You have to ask yourself questions–like it’s beautiful, but is it functional too, which is important, especially depending on the size of your space.” She advocates adding pops of feminine decor to blend antique and new items, suggesting that Amy Butler fabrics can help marry the two styles.
Smith advises readers to always think outside the box when it comes to vintage items and to listen to your heart. “I’ve always thought that you should buy what you love and it works.”
For those of us who have dreams of grand refinishing projects, Smith (who has years of experience in this arena) has a few tips for success. “I’m a painter, so I don’t really strip furniture. I used to do that years ago–sanding, stripping, sealing. Today, though, if you want to paint something, chalk paint is amazing. It’s a little more expensive than traditional paint, but you also use less and it’s an easier process. We sell a product here called van Gogh. There is also Annie Sloan and CeCe Caldwell’s. If you go on YouTube, you can watch tutorials on how to do it.”
Chips, scuffs, and wear are not bad things when it comes to vintage items, since they often highlight the age, charm, and history of an object. “You want to use the integrity of that piece,” Smith claims. For those who are a little hesitant to take on a refinishing project, Smith speaks from experience: “You have to be passionate about the whole project, otherwise it’s probably better to have someone else do it for you. But if you are really interested in refinishing an item, start small. Otherwise it can be pretty daunting. That way you can see if it’s something you are truly interested in doing.”