In this post: If you love decorating with French Country decor but don’t love the expense of vintage collectibles, here are 10 ways to save money mixing reproductions with antiques.⇒
I always keep my promises.
And I promised you 10 ways to save money when decorating with French Country decor.
Last week I shared the first 5 with you, explaining that the best way to balance your costs and keep your budget in line is to mix less expensive but good quality reproductions in with pricier but authentic antiques. (Although by all means, look for deals on antiques, too!)
There are certain decor categories that lend themselves particularly well to this styling concept, as they offer options in both vintage and new. You can see five of those categories in the first post: HERE.
This week I’m back to explore the remaining five.
1. Gilded and trumeau mirrors: Mirrors are one of my favorite decor items. I have them in almost every room and I love the way they bounce the light around a room. I also love the opportunity they provide to add gorgeous decorative framing to your walls. True antique mirrors can be quite pricey but they are also stunning, so I add them sparingly. The one above is among the oldest pieces I own, French and from the late 1700s. It’s my favorite piece, yet I’ve seen reproductions of this very style which would be a great way to save money.
The trumeau mirror above is a reproduction piece that presides over my dining room. It may not have that same “crumbling authenticity” as the antique mirror, but it was significantly cheaper and still adds the right look to the room. To bolster it with a more genuine vintage feel, I’ve paired it with the chippy garden statue and the crystal girandole, both bought through antique sellers. The juxtaposition of these pieces is the real secret sauce, as the older pieces lend credibility to the scene.
The mirror in the opening photo of this post is also a reproduction. It sits above an antique French server and is another example of how I mix old and new together. I felt it was grand enough to keep it in my entryway and it’s flanked by vintage sconces brought back from Italy. The server top vignette mixes new frames and china with antique books and silver pieces.
2. Candlestick holders: Another favorite decor category, I cannot seem to get enough candlestick holders! I wish I could find more pieces like the altar candlestick above, quite possibly the oldest piece I own, I found it in Florence and it hails from the Renaissance. A reproduction piece would be far less costly and when done well they can be quite pretty. But I still enjoy having one or two of the real thing.
This silver candlestick is also antique, found in one of my favorite markets in London. The shop owner told me it was originally from Prague and one of the things I love about antiques is the stories they bring with them. The patina is lovely and as it’s a relatively small piece (compared to a piece of furniture), it was worth the splurge.
To round out the balance with the pricier pieces, I also collect reproduction candlesticks like the one below. They don’t bear the same pedigree, but these are quite tall and that’s a good place to save a bit of money. As always, the new pair flanks an antique dough bowl so that the mixed look still carries a vintage feel.
3. Floral china: I’m utterly enchanted by antique china and I love to mix varied patterns together. You never have to worry about having a full set if you mix and match, and for me it only adds to the charm. The dinner plate below was passed down in our family, while the salad plate is one of my vintage market finds. The demitasse cup and saucer are part of a set I found in the dustiest old shop in a sweet Paris neighborhood.
When I look at the pieces I’ve collected this way, I immediately remember exactly where I was when I discovered them, often hiding on a shelf tucked behind other things, waiting to be unearthed. This is one of the greatest delights of decorating with antiques.
Yet at the same time, I’m happy to supplement my collection of vintage china with brand new pieces that work just as well in the mix. Many of these old companies still produce new products, like the Royal Albert salad plate in the photo below. It’s a bit brighter than the faded patterns it sits with, but it’s equally lovely and when balanced with older pieces, it takes on a vintage look.
4. Chests of drawers: I just love vintage French and English chests! The patina of the wood, the delicacy of the trim and often the curvy lines are quite beautiful. But antique furniture can be very expensive and this is a category that offers many options for saving money. The burled wood chest below is an antique piece and I love the beauty of the wood grain. But the drawers do not slide very easily and there’s a gaping split in the wood top. This is likely what made the piece affordable, but I still enjoy having it in my living room, a room that could benefit from some more vintage selections.
Still, in a room where you already have enough antique style, there are many reproduction chests that offer great optics with attainable pricing. In our guest room, below, we have this new Gustavian chest that is beautifully made with a lovely finish. The drawers slide easily and it’s a pleasure to use.
We also have this pretty painted white chest in my daughter’s bedroom and the simple fact is, when used for actual storage, particularly in a younger person’s room, you cannot beat a new piece. If this was mixed with a vintage mirror and some antique decorative pieces on the bureau surface, it would have a more genuine vintage feel.
(See below for source info.)
5. Silver vases and decor: The final category I will address today comprises silver pieces used as vases, pitchers, planters and more. There’s a broad range of pricing when it comes to vintage silver, depending on various factors including the age, content and quality of the silver. But real antique silver can cost a small fortune.
The fruit bowl above is a new piece with gorgeous lines and an affordable price. Unlike vintage silver, it may shine a bit too much, but a large piece like this would be very expensive in antique sterling. It sits in my kitchen where I have lots of vintage items, so to add it in among the mix works very well.
The champagne bucket above is an older piece but here I saved money by going with silver-plate. It picks up a nice patina and blends comfortably with pieces old and new. I did the same with the repoussé pitcher below, a very old piece, but also in silver-plate. I tend to save my sterling purchases for much smaller pieces with a lower price tag, like antique napkin rings and small bowls and dishes.
For me, mixing real and faux is not just a matter of balancing expenses but also lends more interest to the decor in my home. I try to ensure that every single room has something truly French and genuinely old to provide an air of authenticity to the space. At the same time, newer pieces guarantee an updated look while also offering practicality.
Everything in moderation they say, and this certainly applies to decorating, as well. So go ahead and splurge on that vintage piece that you absolutely have to have. But if you tap out most of your budget on the one piece, head to the reproduction section of your favorite online shop to finish your room. Your wallet (and maybe your husband) will thank you!
French Country Decor Source List – To get the look, click on the items below for direct links to the products. Where actual items were no longer available, I’ve provided similar options.
(This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.)
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