Design Hints

This New Old House

Walking into Bridgett Swindle's Greenbrier, Tennessee, home is like stepping back in time -- and not just to 2002 when she and her husband finished building their antiques-filled sanctuary. How does she make her 21st-century house feel like a Colonial primitive paradise? Here are five of her best ideas:
This New Old House
  • Give laminate a chance: Many of today's laminates have the look of old wood, like the one Bridgett installed in her kitchen, dining and living areas, so don't shy away from them.
  • Hang Colonial-style curtains: Making simple curtains mostly involves stitching in a straight line, so it's not hard to make your own. "I don't like to sew clothes," Bridgett notes. "But I like curtains!" Airy fabrics in country checks and prints set the stage for her primitive decor.
  • Light a fire: Create a fireplace with an antique mantel, some faux brick and an insert, like the Swindles did in their living room. Or, make it even simpler, as they did in the master bedroom: Set up an old mantel, paint faux brick on a board set against the wall, and put some electric logs in the opening.
  • Go wall to wall with antiques: Mix reproductions with antiques when it comes to wall decor. Plate racks full of woodenware and artfully aged samplers look older by virtue of the company they keep, even if the walls are perfectly modern drywall.
  • Light it up: Use old-looking tin light fixtures in every room. Bridgett hung tin chandeliers in the kitchen, living room and guest bedroom, and metal sconces and candleholders feature in virtually every room of the house.