When it comes to interior design these days, there is a homogenous blend of traditional, vintage and antique furniture nesting inside homes, bringing both a sense of fun and history to create a warm and inviting environment.
It is a fantastic way to change up the monotony that can happen from using one style in a room. The use of antiques and vintage items when designing the interior of homes is an art form that purposely uses space and form to create the right look instead of a cluttered one.
Julia Caro believes designing with antiques and vintage pieces is one of the easiest ways to instill the home with a sense of self and character. Using handed down antique pieces brings family history right into daily life while vintage always brings back memories of days gone by. She has an innate ability to locate unique furnishings, materials and provide creative design solutions specifically for the client.
Always on the outlook for antique and vintage materials, Julia was very happy to discuss her approach to using these cherished items in any setting.
Q: You are very active in the design world.
A: I have been an allied member and chair person for the ASID and sixteen other committees within the last five years. I chaired an annual gala in conjunction with the design award with the Orange Coast Magazine that was held at Mission San Juan Capistrano. I truly enjoyed organizing monthly meetings, finding speakers and locating industry partners to hold events together.
Q: You recently just submitted a design for the 2012 ASID-OC Dream Home Nursery. What was that like?
A: It was a fun experience helping design a room for the 5,000 square foot show house at SoCo in Costa Mesa, CA. I had to submit three different designs ideas for rooms and was awarded the nursery. I designed the nursery to be gender neutral with bright happy colors and clean lines. And I love to display cutting edge things that are out there. For instance I used vintage reclaimed flooring from an old barn in Missouri for the floor of the nursery.
Q: What got you into interior design and using vintage and antiques?
A: It was inevitable. Growing up with my father who is an architect allowed me to share a love for design. I started back in the 80s as an assistant designer and followed it up with a degree in interior design from Saddle Back College. I’ve been designing ever since and enjoy every minute of it. As for antiques, it is definitely a passion with me and every month my mother and I visit antique shows and flea markets around town.
Q: I just inherited an antique family heirloom. Can I match this old piece with my new decor?
A: Right now you can mix anything. There is so much mixing going on at this time so old with new is perfectly fine. Being matchy-matchy can date a room. Also mixing it up with an antique can add a bit of warmth and distinction to the clean lines found in a more modern look. Antique furniture may not be your exact style, but because it is a personal item and how it entered your life gives it your own history. Don’t be afraid to use the room to represent every aspect of you.
A: Being too coordinated and consisting of too many of the same types of colors, patterns, accessories, fabrics, designer pieces and thematic elements. That’s why utilizing antique and vintage pieces can break up the consistency and add a bit more personality. Getting away from perfectly matching items just means combining similar elements in unanticipated ways. For instance one client, husband and wife, preferred matching everything for their island style home started including antiques not just from their favorite island Hawaii but from other locals. They bought old pieces repurposed into furniture imported from Bali that was sold here in Orange County. They also found a cog from a ship on one of their trips and made it into a table. By doing this they brought their own character into the house and made it unique and personal and definitely not matchy-matchy.
Q: What about recreating different era’s in several different rooms?
A: Well, this tends to get a little more formal. Right now we are seeing a trend towards informal things that are a little lighter in atmosphere and more playful. We are coming out of the Tuscany look with its use of heavy antiques and mixing them up with more transitional items. The cleaner lines in the transitional styles bring a more casual feel to loosen up the formal.
Q: Any current trends in designing with antiques?
A: Here’s a great one, It was developed by Philippe Stark in the early years of this century and is a transparent polycarbonate injection-molded piece that is seamless and crystal clear. It’s called a ghost chair. For example the Louis Ghost Chair is a replica of the real Louis XVI chair and using this classic antique style in a modern twist is very popular in interior design. It’s fun and lends a little playfulness to the room.
Q: What problems have you solved with clients wanting to integrate their collectibles into their interior design?
A: First thing I like to point out that it is perfectly ok to use vintage collectibles. I always believe the house should reflect the home owner. One client had a whole collection of Catalina tiles and wanted to integrate them into the design of the home. We worked it out by framing the pieces and hanging them as artwork across a living room wall that had a tall ceiling. It turned out beautiful. There is always some way to work collectibles or antiques into any room because it is something the homeowner loves and cherishes and it brings a personal touch and a type of magic to the room.
Q: What other collectible vintage or antique accessories are fun to use?
A: There are so many. Heirloom plates, sterling silver baby cups, framed christening gowns all lend a personal touch to the room. You don’t want a lot of it, just some special pieces. When put together in a grouping of 3 or 5 on a table, wall or cabinet will keep the room from being too cluttered with stuff.
Q: Any last words in using antiques?
A: No matter what, antiques are always good. And vintage too. Designers are still doing the Tuscany look, but it is done with a bit more clean line stuff and filling it in with items collected abroad no matter the style. Picking up vintage and antique pieces when traveling translates into any genre and let’s face it, it so hip to travel the world or here in our own country and pick up pieces from the journey. Reminders of fun times and good experiences.
Julia Caro, Interior Design