Get that perfect can’t-quite-put-your-finger-on-it look by mixing polished with patinaed. 

There are few things in design more inspiring than the perfect blend of modern and vintage. If you love one or the other, go for it and go all-in. But, we must say, there’s a certain old-meets-new, dressy-casual, comfortable elegance that comes from the precise mix of old and new. It is both a science and an art and it requires a good bit of experimentation. Here are our tips for creating the perfect blend:

1. Be patient.

It’s like waiting for water to boil, paint to dry, or grass to grow. It you’re looking too hard it won’t happen. Wait until you find those gotta-have-it, speaks-to-your-soul pieces. As Kentucky designer Chenault James explained, “Bring pieces that you love into your home, and over time, they will work together." But no matter what, don’t walk into a mega-store and buy a matching suite of furniture. Which leads us to our next point:

2. Be comfortable with mixing, matching, and unexpected combinations.

Don’t lose sight of the goal to mix old and new here—the beauty is in the contrast. So if it feels unnerving pairing sleek Lucite chairs with an antique wooden table—push through. We promise the payoff with worth it.

3. Use color, shape, or pattern to create age-based contrast.  

Tweak a classic approach with a bold choice, like designer Grace Kaynor’s choice to cover the walls of a library in an 1850s New Orleans home in a shiny, irreverent, acidic olive green instead of hunter green. The age shines through thanks to a crackle finish, but the color is clearly a contemporary choice. Likewise, don’t be afraid to position a formal antique chair right next to a modern side table. Opposites attract, right?  

4. Use old materials.

Warm up a new build with old materials. They bring a subtle but undeniable character and warmth to a space without filling it up or completely dictating the design of the room.

5. Art, accents, and rugs are sneaky way to push a style in one direction.

Don’t afraid to mix modern with more traditional art. As expert decorator Bunny Williams says, “Don’t buy the art that’s in vogue; buy what interests you. Get what catches your eye at the antiques shop down the road. Come back home and put it out. A lot of people call this layering, but I just call it having fun.” If a room starts feeling too contemporary, an antique rug can warm it right back up.