12 Secrets to the Perfect Antique Oak Furniture Look (Without the Antiques)

Do you love the luxurious look of antique oak furniture?

What’s not to love? Old oak and other woods lend a touch of class to a room, creating a warm and inviting space.

But real antique furniture can be expensive, hard to find, and difficult to maintain. What do you do when the ideal antique decor look is out of reach?

Luckily there is a solution – the secret to the vintage look without the antiques.

If you love old-world charm and vintage flair, you can create the appearance of an old room with a clever mix of accessories, colors and lighting – even when your furniture is brand new. The decor doesn’t look dated, but fresh and contemporary – with well-weathered class.

Here’s how to style your room for a personalized, antique look with modern furniture.

1. Time Travel for a Gorgeous Room

When you are creating an old-style room from scratch, or updating an existing room with new furniture, it can be easy to fall into a clichéd trap. You want your room to look authentic, not shipped in from a mail order catalog.

The trick is to mix different styles of modern furniture with antique finds, and you can also effectively mix and match wood furniture finishes for a unique look. This creates a characterful look where you can showcase your individuality.

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This fresh and elegant room combines an intriguing mix of antique and modern furniture/ Image via William Waldron at My Home Ideas

2. Use Your Architectural Elements

One of the key secrets to making a modern room look older (in a good way) is to work with, or add, architectural elements that provide instant old-world appeal. Think antique pine floors, beaded-board wainscoting, and deep molding running around the walls to display art and photos.

Beams are also amazing for turning a room from modern to classic or country-cottage style. Expose the beams already in the house or install “new” old beams that are easily found in lumber stores or online.

3. Introduce Found Objects

An old-style room appears lived-in and homely.

Homes expert Bob Vila says “If you want to achieve a layered, lived-in look, then buying all your furniture at a department store in one afternoon won’t cut it. Instead, gradually acquire your pieces over time for a mismatched design. Craft fairs, antiques stores, salvage shops, art exhibits, and even Craigslist will offer unusual pieces that can infuse your home with timeless charm.”

Of course, you need a base of good quality oak furniture to form the foundation for your antique-styled room. A classic set of furniture works well alongside thrift store finds and eclectic accessories.

4. Make an Impact with Solid Wood….

The perfect antique look in a living room, dining room, or bedroom is emphatically based on wood. Solid wood is warm, nostalgic, and has a character that cannot be matched by any other furniture material. It ages over time, helping your room grow and mature with you and your family.

…..And Other Natural Materials

You can also build a luxurious old-style room by adding in other natural materials that already have the lived-in look – even when they are brand new. Stone floors provide texture and contrast to the oak furniture, while rough hessian or fiber flooring adds interest in a study or hallway.

5. Do it Yourself

The perfect antique oak furniture look isn’t about having the latest shiny accessories and must-have gadgets, so why not make some of your soft furnishings and ornaments yourself?

Easy to craft lace blinds, drapes made from reclaimed fabric, lampshades made from thrift store materials – it’s simple to find tutorials online for creating vintage-style accessories and furnishings that add the individual touch to your home.

6. Get Distressed

You’d be surprised just how effective modern distressing techniques work to create an antique oak furniture look.

New furniture pieces like these in the Bordeaux Rustic Bedroom range have been carefully and expertly “aged” to look like they have been in the family for generations. You have the best of both worlds – high-quality oak furniture with the charm of older generations.

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The Bordeaux range has nail markings and other intentional indents in the wood, carefully and artistically carried out by our expert craftsmen to age the oak and enhance the distressed feel.

Mixing these modern pieces with antique accessory finds is the perfect way to create a chic and contemporary space.

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Or go for a perfectly shabby chic alternative to dark woods. The distressed paint effect on the Etienne range makes these furniture pieces look like they came from a French chateau or country cottage.

PHOTO: LUCAS ALLEN, STYLING: ELIZABETH DEMOS

PHOTO: LUCAS ALLEN, STYLING: ELIZABETH DEMOS

7. Look After the Details

The details on your furniture make all the difference to the success of an old-style look in a newer home. Look for furniture with carefully styled finishing such as old-fashioned doorknobs and handles.

Make sure your light switches look as old-fashioned as possible. Look carefully at the faucets in your bathroom to recreate a Victorian look – it’s all in the detail.

In this design from Southern Living, a concealed a Sub-Zero refrigerator is featured with an intricately crafted stained oak panel complete with vintage icebox hardware.

8. Plan Smart for the Antique Look

Make your room look like it was styled and added-to over many years by planning your design carefully. The example of the classic style kitchen below includes wood-framed windows and wooden-plank wall boards to create an eclectic effect, with a vintage-styled sink and hardware making you think it’s a lot older than it is.

Image via Lucas Allen, Styling by Elizabeth Demos at Southern Living

Image via Lucas Allen, Styling by Elizabeth Demos at Southern Living

Image via Lucas Allen, Styling by Elizabeth Demos at Southern Living

Image via Lucas Allen, Styling by Elizabeth Demos at Southern Living

9. Get Your Lighting Right 

To recreate the timeless look of an old home, pay particular attention to your lighting. You may not want to live by candlelight all the time, but there are other ways you can light your home the old-fashioned way.

Vintage reproductions of gas lanterns and re-purposed lamps from your chosen era give a room character and charm.

Create a conversation piece with a new chandelier made to look like it was taken from a country manor house. Freestanding lamps are also good for making a room look cozy and old-style.

10. Use Muted Tones

Color is all-important. If you are trying to choose paint to create an old look for a newer room, Antique Homes says “homeowners have several options. The first is to simply choose what you like and forget being true to the period of the house. At the opposite end of the decision spectrum is the choice to invest in historic paint analysis and replicate the home’s original colors.”

If you want to match your furniture to a particular time period, there are paint companies that offer different collections from specific eras to help transport you back in time.

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Historic colors from Valspar Paint 

For a quick room makeover, tone it down. Earthy tones and muted shades provide a timeless look. The colors of walls, ceilings, furnishings and accessories shouldn’t overpower the room.

11. Age Your Floors

Create an old-fashioned look without the need for antiques by aging your floors. Staining or whitewashing wooden floors adds instant rustic appeal.

Show off the grain of floors like in this antiqued breakfast room with a fresh coat of varnish.

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Image via Dennis Welsh at My Home Ideas 

Or introduce reclaimed brick for a country-style antique look. Check out salvage stores and timber and building material yards for antique-style bricks or boards that give the ground you walk on that historic charm.

12. Add Antique Appliances

Go retro with throwback appliances in the kitchen or study – gadgets that have been refurbished and renovated to work well in modern times.

If you don’t want to go as far as cooking on an antique stove you can find appliances that simply look retro, or you can go for an easier option and install retro touches and antique items like a chalk blackboard in the kitchen rather than a whiteboard, or an old-style claw-foot tub in the bathroom.

By mixing and matching your new furniture with eclectic accessories and old-style lighting, you create the ideal antique oak furniture look even when your chairs, tables and bookcases are brand new. This is a look that lasts, but doesn’t appear dated. Why not give it a try?