Home Decor

How to mix modern decor with vintage pieces

In their bijou Victorian row house, owners Peter and Camille Marrello show us how a little handiwork and a few antique finds goes a long way
By Virginie Martocq; Photos by Roberto Caruso
How to mix modern decor with vintage pieces

Attention to detail

It’s hard to imagine that this Victorian house was a ’80s reno nightmare when Peter and Camille Marrello got their hands on it two years ago. It had been stripped of all of its charm and character. Yet everything about the house today looks like it’s been there for, well, over a hundred years. To bring it back to its former glory, Peter and his reno-savvy dad rolled up their sleeves and added moldings to as much of the house as possible. Then Peter and Camille combed through vintage stores and antique shows to find period pieces to play up the period details. The Carrara marble fireplace was a lucky find at a Habitat store. “They’re really hard to find, because they often break when people take them out of old houses — this one was perfect,” says Peter, a creative director. Rustic hewn floors and a new floating wood-and-glass staircase add just the right updated touch. The resulting look is a perfect balance of classical and freshly modern.

How to mix modern decor with vintage pieces

Stack books spine in

To lend visual unity to the built-ins, the homeowners placed books spine in — it's a fun way to show off the soft muted tones of book pages. Flea market finds are peppered throughout —everything from an old block and tackle to shoe lasts finds a home. A coffee table made from an old drum punctuates the space.

Get this look: Resin antlers, Restoration Hardware. Birch logs, acorn filials, Sheridan Nurseries. Gold bowl, Elte. Sofa, Casalife. Vintage drum coffee table, Christie's.

Living room, fireplace, drum coffee table, bookshelves

Replace a loveseat with two small chairs

Get more flexibility in tight spaces by choosing scaled-down furnishings that are easy to reconfigure. Storage is hidden in the panelling of the structural wall behind the Louis XVI-style chair.

Get this look: Glass stair enclosure, Comelight Glass & Mirror, 416-603-7965. Table, frames, Home Sense. Purple pillow, Elte. White Eiffel chair, Design Within Reach.

Stairs, glass wall, wooden floor, fur carpet

Colour-block a wall

Dark colours can create the illusion of space, so painting one wall of this narrow dining room a dark grey makes it feel more spacious than it really is. Painting all the moldings one colour is a modern way to treat traditional architecture. Peter and Camille chose upholstered benches instead of chairs for the seating.

Get this look: Tufted bench, Pavilion Home. Table, chandelier, Casalife.

How to mix modern decor with vintage pieces

Before: The dining room was dark and small.

Dining table, grey and white walls, crystal chandelier

Go outside the lines

Peter panelled the walls to create a strong grid, then hung some art outside the molding for a quirky, unexpected effect.

Get this look: Modern frames, Ikea.

Crystal chanelier, padded bench, photographs on wall

Hallway window with topiary

The living room window didn't look onto anything spectacular, so Peter and Camille created a beautiful outdoor scene by placing faux boxwood topiaries in large white planters. White sheers and softness without being old-fashioned.

Get this look: Painted white planters, Home Sense. Stairwell bracket, Love the Design. Rope, Restoration Hardware.

Hall window with white drapes, topiaryPhoto, Roberto Caruso.

Use Mason jars to store and display food

Why drown in plastic when vintage Mason jars are a practical and attractive way to keep pantry staples on hand?

Get this look: Drawer hardware, Restoration Hardware. White subway tile, Olympia Tile+Stone.

Kitchen, mason jars, bread box

Make an island out of architectural remnants

The couple used a former store counter for their kitchen island. Old corbels support the marble countertop. Antique French pendants add task lighting, while white subway tiles are a classic accent.

Get this look: Kitchen design, Andrew Pike Interiors. Counterop, Crystal Tile & Marble Ltd. Light fixture, Restoration Hardware. Glasses, cake plate, Williams Sonoma.

How to mix modern decor with vintage pieces

Before: The kitchen had no character and an awkward layout.

Kitchen, island, architectural remnants


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