Interiors: Mixing past and present

It's vintage darling and it's a current trend in modern interiors, but the real deal is mixing vintage with modern pieces to create a look that is unique to your home.

These days the drawers are home to my DVD collection and a flat widescreen television sits proudly on top.

I love the fact that the chest of drawers has a history behind it and that the piece is well made out of a piece of wood that could tell you a story or two about the past and how we used to live.

It was also, of course, a bargain buy, as I inherited it from my friend who wanted to revamp his home and no longer had the need for the drawers. 'Rescuing' the piece from the tip also gives me a sense of eco pride.

Mixing the old wood with my modern cushions, sofa and multimedia gives a stylish look to my lounge, a unique look that I couldn't achieve if I had adorned my home with new contemporary pieces, after all the wonderful patina, subtleties of imperfection and sense of history that you get with vintage items cannot compare.

Mixing old and new, vintage and contemporary pieces is a look that many interior designers are adopting in their schemes. Norwich interior designer Collette Hanlon uses a lot of vintage items in her modern room sets to give a look that is unique to her clients.

Says Collette: 'I love to use vintage items in all my schemes, even in show homes. I recently 'Staged for Sale' a loft apartment in central London and the brief was for a contemporary scheme for young professionals. My starting point, however, was a fabulous vintage trunk painted with a union flag, everything else within the room just fell into place, with the addition of a vintage piece the room had a grounded feel with more character.

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'The contrast between vintage and the contemporary has a unique and individual effect, the marriage between the old and new has a more timeless feel. You also have the satisfaction of knowing that the design scheme would be hard to replicate and it is uniquely yours!

'Vintage industrial furniture is great if you prefer a more masculine look but still want the patina. Look for fabulous factory lights,. I recently found some the other side of the country only to discover they originated from a shoe factory in Norwich! Also stripped metal filing cabinets which can double as drawers, the steel has a depth and quality that you simply won't find in a modern piece.

'My favourite vintage items to use are battered and polished leather suitcases, which double up as great storage at the foot of a bed, a vintage bust form as a place to hang my jewellery and scarves. For a touch of understated glamour anything 'French' just does it for me, having just found some gorgeous peeling French shutters that are leaning against a corner in my home much to the amusement of my family!'

Collette Hanlon is a Norfolk-based Interior Designer assoc BIID (British Interior Institute of Design) and creative director of 'Home Stagers' probably the UK's leading specialists in Show Homes, Rental Furniture and Property Presentation Contact Collette on 0800 542 8 952 or visit