Interior Design with Antique Furniture

  • December 20, 2022 13:56

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Grand Ducal Pietre Dure Console Tables. 17th Century.
M.S. Rau

Interior Design and Antique Furniture

Whether it be daring or contemplative, grand or an accent piece, antique furniture and objet d’art can transform a space with a powerful presence. Learn how antiques can help your space reflect your own unique history and character.

Modern Fascination

When millions of HBO watchers tuned in for the season 2 finale of White Lotus, many viewers were anxious with excitement for a grand resolution and murder. Season two of White Lotus serves as a criticism of power and sex against the backdrop of a luxury hotel adorned with art historical artifacts that also served as important symbols and metaphors. Throughout the series, artwork serves as a harbinger of the characters’ emotional and physiological battles. At the climax of the series, when Ethan thinks his wife cheated on him for revenge, he looks ominously at the decapitated head of the Testa di Moro. The Testa di Moro legend is as follows:

In the 11th-century, a lovely young girl lived in Palermo during the Moorish occupation. One day a young Moor passing by saw her tending to her plants, was captured by her beauty and declared his love to her. His affections were reciprocated. After some time, the girl discovered that her lover would return to his homeland and the wife and children he left behind. That night, she beheaded him while he was sleeping and subsequently used his head as a flower pot so he could stay in her presence forever. Allegedly, her plant grew so beautiful that her entire village replaced her idea and made clay pots that resembled the Moor’s head, a motif that has been used in Sicilian pottery ever since.

-Sense Sicily. SICILIAN ICONS: “TESTE DI MORO.” 2016.

When Ethan gazes at these vases, it is clear that he is fearing the consequences of his own deceit and his wife’s potential revenge. Although not every piece of art should evoke memories of murder and deceit, antiques have long been a fascinating part of decor and collections. Antiques can provide a breath of fresh air in this modern age of “big box” store furniture, so often made from low-quality materials. More often than ever, designers of all ages are striving for something handmade, timeless and high quality. Read on for decorating ideas and to hear our take on the top five reasons to fill your home with antique furniture and decor.

King Louis Philippe I Sèvres Porcelain Mantel Clock. 19th Century.
M.S. Rau


We've all heard the saying “they sure don't make things like they used to.” This widespread adage is true, and antique furniture - a piece of furniture that was made over one hundred years ago was crafted in an age before mass production and assembly lines. Often, each piece was hand-crafted by an artisan with a lifetime of experience. When you buy an antique dining table, you know it has survived through decades of dinner parties and it will undoubtedly hold up through decades more.

Perhaps the most famous furniture craftsman of his day, Thomas Chippendale and his exquisite furniture evoke images of refined taste and unparalleled elegance. Considering his utilization of the most handsome timbers with rich, warm patinas, coupled with his uncanny flair for emphasizing the natural beauty of the wood, it is no wonder pieces such as this rare set of chairs are so treasured by collectors. Because Chippendale used the highest-quality materials, including Cuban mahogany, his signature "red wash," "triple-wheel" friction casters and locking mechanisms by London metalsmith Elizabeth Gascoigne, he died bankrupt because he was never fully compensated for his refined craftsmanship.

Although it is rare to find a Chippendale piece on the market, many pieces that feature solid wood and proper treatment are sure to last for generations to come. Check out our collection of antique wood furniture.


Cross-collecting, or buying home goods and art from across periods of time and style, is a popular move that interior designers have utilized for decades. An antique piece of furniture can seamlessly furnish a more classic home, or provide an accent to round out a modern design. One of my favorite design trends of late has been the addition of traditional furniture to modern interiors. Amidst all of the straight lines and stark colors of a mid-century or contemporary living room, an antique Louis XV-style side table, for instance, can keep the room fresh and full of visual interest.

A carefully placed antique piece or two can really soften a modern aesthetic and bring some warmth to a room. Make sure, however, you have a clear vision for your space before you move down this path having an unrefined assemblage of decorating styles will do your room more harm than good.

In addition, the timeless look of an antique piece allows your design aesthetic to evolve. Because antiques are so versatile, you can find unexpected ways to utilize them in your home. Take an antique dresser for example; its many drawers could hold so much more than just clothing in the bedroom. Perhaps it could serve as a buffet in your dining room storing your items for entertaining, or a catch-all table for your entryway to hide away mail or a handy place for your keys.

Antique armoires could easily double as a stately TV cabinet in your living room, with the added bonus of dressing up your collection of electronics. The possibilities are endless, so don't be afraid to think outside of the box.

Grand Ducal Pietre Dure Console Tables. 17th Century.
M.S. Rau

Personalize Your Space

Most importantly, antique furniture is compelling because of its story. Reflect your own origins and fascinations with pieces that tell your story.

Penchant for French history? Perhaps a clock made for royalty by the finest firm in France could suit your interests. Originally commissioned by King Louis Philippe I of France for his Palace of Saint Cloud, this magnificent mantel clock is a horological marvel. Its remarkable artistry was accomplished by the visionary Jean-Charles-François Leloy, a renowned designer at the Sèvres factory for nearly three decades. Between 1818 and 1844, he created multiple commissions for the king, including the original Ordinaire Fontainebleau dinner service and the famed Clodion vases at the Louvre.

Do you have interest in English royalty and Italian masterpieces? A set of console tables with interesting layers of provenance may fit your space best. For approximately 250 years, these Grand Ducal pietre dure were part of the famed Stoneleigh Abbey collection owned by the Lord Leigh family. This renowned English country estate inspired Jane Austen to write Mansfield Park. Lord Leigh eventually sold the tables at Christie’s London in 1962, and the pair have stayed in the collection of the same Florentine family who purchased them from Christie's until we recently acquired them.

Whether you’re trying to spice up a space you love or you’re starting from scratch, browse our curated collection of rare antiques and find the perfect piece for your home.

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Beauty, Rarity, History: The M.S. Rau Blog

Founded in 1912, M.S. Rau is one of North America’s most respected galleries supported by a team of experts who ensure each piece is vetted for quality and authenticity. A commitment to quality and beauty underpins each of the gallery’s acquisitions; it is a commitment that allows Rau to present only the most exceptional in fine art, antiques and jewels.

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