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5 tips for decorating with antiques

5 tips for decorating with antiques

Decorating your home with beautiful things can inspire happiness. Here’s how to spark joy by surrounding yourself with pieces that have a story – and soul.

There’s nothing like walking into your home, taking a deep breath and feeling completely relaxed and at peace, surrounded by beautiful things that make you smile. This is the mantra collector Chris Hughes has followed for most of his life, having fallen in love with “stuff with soul” at a very early age.

Now the co-owner of Brisbane’s glorious The Antique Guild, Hughes started collecting at the tender age of 10. His fascination began with tea parties, when his parents pulled crockery – “too good to use on a day-to-day basis” – from the back corner of cupboards.

“I’d be given a plastic cup to drink from. But I wanted the cup with the gold rim,” he says. He began to collect silver cutlery, then dining sets. But not the kind you squirrel away. “I don’t want a cupboard of things never used. I want to experience the beautiful pieces I buy.”

Chris Hughes
Chris Hughes has been collecting since he was a child

Express your individual style

To Hughes, collecting antiques is about being enveloped by things you enjoy – things that come with a story and create an atmosphere that is uniquely yours. “Your collections should give you an individual style – your home doesn’t have to look like everyone else’s. I love it when I look around and a piece sparks a memory, reminding me where I was when I found it and why it has become so special.”

Although collecting may seem the antithesis of popular home decluttering trends, Hughes believes that there is actually a lot of synergy between his ethos and that of Marie Kondo. “Collecting doesn’t mean you have to become a hoarder – it’s about seeking out pieces that bring you immense joy.”


This means blending different styles, textures and pieces to create a warmth that flatpack furniture just can’t bring. “You’re not going to leave Ikea furniture to your kids,” says Hughes. “From a sustainability standpoint, this kind of disposable furniture is terrible as well.”

As to the idea that antiques are only for your grandparents? “I think collecting beautiful things is particularly attractive to millennials,” says Hughes. “Younger generations have such a unique expression and are always looking for ways to be individual. With antiques, you get to express yourself – and own a piece of history that will retain its value.”

Chris Hughes blends different styles and textures at home
Chris Hughes blends different styles and textures at home

Chris Hughes’ top 5 tips

1. Determine what you like and what’s important to you, whether that’s silver, glass, paintings or porcelain. What excites you?

2. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t find something you like straight away. A lot of collecting is about the joy of the hunt – about finding that one special thing when you least expect it.

3. Look in high-end stores, even if you don’t plan to buy anything. In any upscale boutique you’ll find pieces that are massively overpriced, and others that are wildly underrated. Educate yourself so you can determine which is which. And talk to the dealers – they hold a wealth of information.

4. Don’t buy pieces and expect to sell them for a profit in six months. Like other markets, the value of antiques fluctuates with demand and trends.

5. Remember: collecting can become an addiction. Many people (like me) become antiques dealers to fuel this addiction.

This article originally appeared in the Signature@home ebook. To download the latest issue, click here.