What if your style is prevailing modern, but while you lived in Japan (or China or Indonesia or India or Europe or anywhere else) you managed to acquire an antique cabinet or tansu or table that you are not sure fits into your spare aesthetic? One strategy that tends to be successful in contemporary interiors is to treat the item as an objet d’arte – to set it off on its own punctuated by only a few accessories and gallery style white walls. A small bit of punchy bright color will also lighten the mood, or as in the case of the antique Chinese wedding cabinet below, quite a bit of color. Also note the single graphic note struck by the antique Japanese spinning wheel placed on top.
In this stunning room a pair of Chinese lacquered chests crowned by a collection of bird cages functions in a similar fashion. The purple on the chair and the green on the trunk coffee table provide color in the otherwise neutral space. I love how the height of the birdcage topped cabinets lines up with the graphic dark window mullions.
In a glamorous Manhattan loft Chinese pieces mix with modern icons like the Barcelona couch by Mies van der Rohe. A similar lacquered cabinet to the ones in the photo above is topped with a single decorative object, while a red lacquer bench provides a note of color. Walls of mirror further reflect the light and seem to double the size of the space, making it seem as if there is a pair of cabinets in this photo too.
This home in the Pacific Northwest is punctuated by not one but two pawlonia wood and iron strap tansu and a wild chartreuse sofa. I love the open plan space but I am not as hot on the sofa. An exciting detail in this photo is the Japanese silkworm tray basket hung on the wall above the larger tansu. A favorite item of mine for decorating, I have never seen one used in an interior photographed for any magazine or other interior design press.
Low slung modern beds are a perfect match for sword tansu in bedrooms, here anchoring a gallery wall…
…and here at the foot of the bed.
Is this your style? If not, coming soon - Sayonara Series…Antique Furniture in Warm Modern Spaces.
Image credits: 1 & 4. Metropolitan Home April 2009, photo credit: Erik Johnson, 2. credit unknown, via American Gypsy Living, 3. Elle Decor September 2005, photo credit: William Waldron, 5. Elle Decor March 2012, photo credit: William Waldron, 6. Metropolitan Home April 2009, photo credit: John Ellis