WELCOME to Nest by Tamara blog

WELCOME to Nest by Tamara blog
Hi- It's Tamara. I'm happy you've stopped by, and since 2010 I've been sharing my passion for interior design, history, art, entertaining, travel & fashion. I am an interior designer, textile designer and writer living and working in New York City and East Hampton, Long Island. My musings have taken me to international design, art, antique and epicurean events and I have lots to share. I'm grateful to have been listed as the #1 top design blog, blogs to watch, top design blogs and named and awarded Rising Star of Design by the IFDA NY industry organization. Please feel free to reach out to our team for an interior design consultation or to see our collection of wallpaper and fabric sold to the designer trade at rootcellardesigns@gmail.com. Tamara

Friday's WHY IN DESIGN: how to incorporate antiques into your modern home

With the East Hampton Antique Show at Mulford Farm coming up a week from now on July 19, I offer 5 tips on collecting antiques.

Please read my Dan's Papers story 
in the East End Nest column about the Mulford Farm show
The annual Mulford Farm Antique Show set on the Village Green in East Hampton is a perfect example of a high quality, local antique show that draws vendors from all over the eastern seaboard.  Both dealers and buyers know their antiques, so it's a great place to attend and learn about something you may want to collect.  I stop in to this show every year, but it's important to brush up on the history and details about a particular style and type of antique you want to collect so you attend an antique show well prepared.  
What do I collect? 
And, how can you collect and incorporate antiques into a modern aesthetic?  
I love anything for tabletop - like plates, sugar and bowl sets, tea sets and vintage cutlery, salt cellars (a fancy word for salt dishes) or glass ware.  Because many of these items were made beautifully and some by hand, the antique tabletop accessories tend to be high quality and durable.  I also enjoy collecting chairs (because you can never have enough chairs and especially when entertaining -- there's always a need to pull up extras), antique prints and botanical, outdoor furniture/ornamentation and lighting.  
Let's focus on how to incorporate items that may be over one hundred years old into our modern day interior design in a way that highlights the pieces but with a fresh perspective. 
all photography in this post by Tamara Matthews-Stephenson
Nest by Tamara's 
5 tips for collecting & incorporating antiques into a modern home:
 1. invest in antique collections in one color or style.  
I love McCoy or any American made pottery from the 1940s, but tend to buy only white or ecru colored pieces and in unusual shapes like nautilus shaped vases, fish plates or seashell urns.  If there is a shell or nautically inspired piece in white pottery piece I am almost certain to pick it up.  All these years later I have dozens in my collection, and they look striking set out on my fireplace mantel or my dining table potted with ferns and greenery. 

 2.  mix and match plate and tableware from different time frames 
For instance I am in love with any floral design vintage plates or any pattern with blue.  I recently picked up a cute LL Bean blueberry plate set (not antique but maybe vintage or, maybe just over ten years old) to mix on my outdoor table with my antique Blue Willow dishes and tea set.  
The layering of different plates makes for an interesting table, and with a unique collection on hand I can change up my table each time I entertain.  When hunting for these pieces, always turn over the plates or dishes and inspect the codes and names on the bottom thoroughly.  Bring along your pocket antique guide book to look up the little symbols. 

a great serving piece adorned with a lobster - picked it up on Martha's Vineyard at a cute little antique shop in Menemsha

Gabby checking out a majolica plate at the Mulford Farm Show
my summer indoor table set with rattan, antique Blue willow and vintage glassware
some gorgeous porcelain I spotted while on Magazine Street in New Orleans
I keep all my vintage tabletop pieces in an antique linen press for summer, outdoor entertaining in 
The Hamptons
take a look at many of the pieces I have bought for myself or clients over the years 
Blue Willow can be relatively inexpensive to collect--I have pieces made in America in the 1950s that I picked up for a bargain and use daily, yet my original Blue Willow from Europe are my most costly and valued pieces and I don't use them as often.  Blue Willow is also a good pattern to collect because the interesting toile-like pattern and one color allows it to mix well with other plates.  Added on top of a , solid hot pink rim plate a Blue Willow dinner plate can be stunning. Read my story about Blue Willow and the history of it here.  

Although Majolica pottery is pricey one unique piece from the Victorian era adorned with crustacean or fruits and vegetables can make quite a statement on your serving table
I like to use an all white base of modern day plates as my base, then add my vintage and antique plate collections layered on top for an eclectic look.

My American set of tea pots from the 1940s and fashioned after Japanese and Chinese tea sets are interesting pieces to collect
and each one is unique and tells a story.  Some of the cups have hologram images of Geisha on the bottom.
3. Use garden ornaments to spiff up your landscaping & outdoor space.  
I often tell my clients with new homes and landscaping that while their garden is aging and growing, invest in a few unusual, antique garden ornaments and urns.  A little bit of artistically placed pieces goes a long way on a property.  Another important note, is to remember that these items will look interesting inside your home as well, and when used in an artistic fashion.  What I love about garden sculpture is the versatility, and a small fountain or nymph looks amazing in your flower garden but it can be equally dramatic and awe inspiring set in the center of your indoor New Years Eve table with flowers floating in the center.  When it comes to setting a table, dramatic is always a good thing. 
I regret that I thought long and hard about these swan planters for a client I spotted at the Mulford Farm Antique show three years ago but we did not purchase them -- they are quite unique 
I picked up this little garden and the antique glass bottles from a Vermont dealer two years ago at Mulford Farm.  The gnome adorns my front door for good luck 
4. lamps and chairs can be an inexpensive way to start investing in antiques: 

these ceramic chinoiserie style tall lamps I found at an antique show compliment my all-ecru colored American pottery.  Set in a tone-on-tone Charlotte Moss wallpaper'd dining room these antique pieces look modern in the space.
let's be honest lamps are like the jewelry of a room.  It is one area you can be extremely creative and it works well.  I like to find antique dog or animal lamps, unusual brass ornamented lamps, anything shell encrusted, or chinoiserie inspired ginger jars can add a lot of character to a room.  You can pick up table lamps, hanging lanterns in all sorts of unusual styles and time frames for relatively inexpensively compared to other antiques.  I am crazy for any toile lanterns (as seen below in one of my client's homes).

this architectural remnant made into a standing lamp I picked up at Beall & Bell Antiques makes quite a statement in a living room
I love tole anything, and especially this painted chandelier in a former client's children's bedroom adds character to the room
To me, extra chairs are always needed in a home whether it's for a desk, a dressing table, extra side chairs a small slipper chair in a bedroom or bathroom, you can almost never have too many chairs in a home.  Sets of chairs can be pricey, but if you are looking for individual ones you can usually find a pair or single chairs for a song in unique styles and detailing.  
I picked up a set of four of these American chairs from the 1970s in a Chippendale style  at an antique shop and broke the set up and sold a pair (painted black) to a client.  I kept two for myself and have now painted the pair the color, Vreeland Mint European Fine Paints.  They work well at my dressing table.  Their straight leg, yet large detailed back and wide seat makes them blend and enhance a modern interior. 
this antique glider from the 1960s we painted cobalt blue works well as the centerpiece on a green lawn and set in front of a pool for a vintage look.
5.  Invest in a collection of botanical, prints or vintage art then frame in unexpected frames for a modern look.  
A good example is this collection of illustrations of crustacean (from an antique encyclopedia) I picked up years ago and when framed in simple pine frames and hung in my all blue and blue and white toile bedroom at a beach house, it feels fresh and modern.   
some more of the collection we hung in the adjoining bathroom covered in sea grass to continue the aesthetic  
these French antique fruit prints work well in mahogany chunky frames and set with a vintage fruit and vegetable painting from the 1940s I picked up at a Vermont antique shop. Set against the dowel black tall antique lamps and grey colored walls this aesthetic works well in a modern, farmhouse 
I framed a set of 8 antique hand colored fern prints in light, knotty pine with chocolate brown edging and they look stunning in this entry foyer with a brown and white animal toile wallpaper from Travers.

you may remember back in the spring J. Pocker Framing in NYC generously framed my antique hunt sprints with a ribbed gilt-wood frames that make them sparkle in my master bedroom

these antique fish prints look like they float against the coral wallpaper when they are matted in the same wallpaper - this gives them a fresh perspective.
Happy Nesting XO
*all photographs in this post were taken by Tamara or Gabby Stephenson