Trash or Treasure: The art of mixing old and new

By Khristi Zimmeth
Special to The Detroit News
Lynn Sirola's vignette.

Combining contemporary design and antiques is an art – but one you can learn, designers insist. If you’ve ever struggled with how to successfully integrate the two you won’t want to miss the latest vignettes at Judy Frankel Antiques in Troy, on view through Nov. 15. They’re part of “The Unexpected Mix,” an ongoing series that features local interior designers who combine vintage and antique decor with contemporary furnishings.

Co-sponsored by Judy Frankel Antiques and RJ Thomas Ltd., the latest installation features Staci Meyers and Lynn Sirola. The pair will be featured at a Meet and Greet event open to the public on Sept. 19 from 1-3 p.m. at Judy Frankel Antiques. We caught up with them to ask a few questions of our own prior to the event. Here’s what they had to say.

Why did you want to participate in this? 

SM: Many of my projects use a combination of new and antiques for the furniture, lighting and accessories. So when I was asked to participate it was easy to say yes.   

LS: It is always a great challenge and rewarding to have a new designing adventure and project.               

How long have you been collecting?  

SM: I started my collection when I was a student at MSU when I studied abroad in the UK and Ireland.  I was amazed by the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh at the Glasgow School of Art.  It was one of the first times I understood the importance of history and the use of design periods and antiques in great design.  

LS:  I have been collecting for too many years now.  Due to my love for antiques, I am always looking for more special items for myself and my clients.     

 What do you collect and how do you display your collections in your home? 

SM: I love colored Depression glass and have it arranged like the colors of the rainbow in my living room.  It makes me smile when I walk into the room, which is easily viewed from my mudroom when I come home from a long day at my design studio. But my most treasured pieces are in my design studio. It features an original womb chair and ottoman that I picked up when I was just starting my career and (I) recently had it brought back to life now that has a fantastic cobalt blue that reminds me of my trips to Capri, to the Blue Grotto. Paired with a Durland Rosewood conference table and chairs, and my grandfather’s old exposed wood teak sofa.  All accented with items from my past projects and traveling the world.

LS:  My collections are varied from English transferware to mahogany furniture to modern accents and artwork.             

 What do you think antiques or vintage items bring to a home?

SM: They give it a feeling of being a collection over time. When you design a space with new things, it can feel like a page from a catalog and without any sense of my client’s personal lifestyle.  Many of my clients have traveled the world for work and pleasure.  They want their lifestyle to be reflected in their homes. 

LS: Mixing antiques, vintage and modern into a room brings unexpected charm,  warmth and intrigue into all rooms of the home.       

Staci Meyers’ vignette

 What antiques or styles do you think are undervalued or up and coming?

SM: Regency Hollywood is something that has been under the radar for the last few years, and you have started to see it pop up in mainstream stores. The sofa that I chose for my space has the gracious curves that this era is known for.  The custom alabaster pendant in my space has the feel of art deco, which will always be a classic element of design. It's a nod to the time when chrome and architectural details were done with craftsmanship and fine materials.  

LS: I believe at this time in our history of interior design, the industry has become more exciting and great fun to work in.                           

Tell me about your vignette. Highlights? What did you use and why?

SM: It all started with the mid-century Italian teak wall unit.  I love that you can change how the shelving and storage units are placed.  It is a pure example of form and furniture meets beautiful design.  The new framed butterflies also inspired me to select the new Moderna rug that had a splash of the teak wood tones and color in the intense Benjamin Moore Evening Sky 833 paint on the walls.  The new lighting was selected to be more architectural and features a large Italian custom-made hand-carved alabaster pendant and rectangular table lamp.  Accents of antique white and clear vessels help add a pop of brightness and sparkle in the rich textured space.

LS: The name of the vignette is called A New York – Hollywood Studio Apartment. Glitzy and Glamorous. ... Selecting various styles including art deco, mid-century, Asian, and the new contemporary of today.  Adding one-of-a-kind accessories makes the room feel inviting, comfortable and exciting.

 What is the secret to mixing antiques and new successfully? 

SM: The use of repetition of patterns, texture or color always will tie new and old together. 

LS: I do not have any special secrets to mixing antiques with modern or any other styles.  Looks like I just have a "knack " for creating and designing, LS: I do not have any special secrets to mixing antiques with modern or any other styles. Looks like I just have a "knack " for creating and designing, what (I’ve loved) to do for over 30 years!.