How To // Create a Layered Look with Antiques

I’m so excited to introduce the extremely talented interior designer, and not to mention hilarious, Naomi of Design Manifest. I’m so happy to be able to call her a friend and colleague. She’s going to be sharing her expert advice from years of owning an interior design and renovation business with her father in Philadelphia.

HOW TO: Create a Layered Look Using AntiquesPutting together a room can be a daunting task particularly if you want it be feel collected and layered.  My “secret weapon” in all of my projects has been to mix in antique or vintage pieces. Antiques provide soul and substance to a room. Many rooms that are filled with only brand new pieces can feel a little flat.

My friends a clients ask me all the time — where do I start when picking antiques? So here’s my little cheat sheet for the best way to mix antiques into your home.


I love mixing in vintage coffee tables into a room. The coffee table is such a focal point, so its great if it’s a piece with a lot of character. End tables and bar carts are another great way to layer in antiques.

Tip: Gold/Brass/Gilded pieces are so much more beautiful when antique. New pieces just can’t mimic the same finish. Spray paint in particular will never match old gold or brass.

This gilded marble top table was purchased on Ebay and shipped across the country to my clients home.

blue sofa / gold coffee table

This brass bar cart was scored at a local Philadelphia auction.

faux bamboo bar cart


Case pieces are so expensive to buy! Hold off on splurging on medium quality pieces from big box stores, and find a well made second hand piece.

Tip: Check out case pieces on 1stDibs. Many are expensive, but they educate you on styles and brands to look for while shopping.

This vintage ebonized commode took months to track down but was worth the wait! It really shines in this room full of modern and traditional pieces.

vintage chest


There are so many amazing vintage chairs out there that make for perfect secondary seating. Many pieces can be picked up for a fraction of new chair costs and a quick seat recovery can totally update the look.

Tip: If your seating area allows for it, mix in fully upholstered and more sculptural chairs for a layered look. Not every chair needs to be La-Z-boy comfortable, but all should be functional.

Zebra upholstery gave these vintage wood chairs new life.

paradiso wallpaper // wood chairs


Vintage lighting is a great way to save money and find really interesting pieces. Often times lamps just need new shades to feel fresh and updated.

Tip: Vintage lighting should be checked out by an electrician or lighting shop to make sure components are safe and functional.

These vintage raspberry gourd lamps were a fraction of the cost of similar Robert Abbey versions.

modern sideboard // pink lamps // blue & white china


I LOVE to fill in rooms with vintage finds. Quirky little pieces are great ways to add personality to a room. Old mirrors elevate the style of any room.

Tip: One of a kind pieces can be mixed in with Home Goods pieces and will elevate the whole look of your collection.

Vintage cranes and a turquoise vase are mixed with a new tray from Wisteria and lotus candleholder from Furbish Studio.

coffee table styling // design manifestAn antique lamp and mirror are mixed with new Staffordshire dogs to style new built-in cabinetry.

campaign cabinet // ghost chair // greek key roman shade // design manifest


Old faded rugs are gorgeous and make great statements in foyers, kitchens and bathrooms.

Tip: Ebay is great resource for inexpensive vintage beauties.

The vintage tribal kazak adds vibrancy to my clients foyer.

striped walls // peacock mirror // design manifest


Consignment shops, auctions, estate sales, craigslist, etsy, ebay, and flea markets are a great place to start.

Tip: Be patient! Sometimes shopping for vintage pieces takes time but the finished look is well worth the effort and delay!

I love vintage pieces for a couple of reasons. Typically you can find better quality pieces. If your budget lies around the “Restoration Hardware” zone, typically new pieces you buy will be mass produced, made in China — not craftsman pieces. An antique in the same price range is typically constructed better, with finer materials.  Going vintage can also be a great way to save costs when furnishing a room. Plus real patina is just always nicer than faux patina. Why pay more for something built to look old, when you can find the real deal?

— Naomi

All rooms designed by Design Manifest, photos by Courtney Apple