Why we should love antique brown furniture by the best in the business. For once I am silent and will listen to the masters.
‘Whenever I’m decorating a house I’m constantly shocked at the prices of new furniture that loses all value as soon as it’s left the showroom. Far more fun, and much more meaningful, to find a good old chair, chest of drawers or table at your local auction or junk shop for a fraction of the price and with infinitely more character. Bridie and I have constantly filled our shop with good bits of William IV and Victorian furniture, which I find are valued even less than Georgian examples but are often rather more robustly made. My only word of warning – be aware of wobbly tables -my absolute pet hatred.’
Ben Pentreath, Ben Pentreath and Pentreath & Hall
‘Antiques have often been over restored and this is why "brown furniture " has developed such a bad reputation. It is not easy to source these finer items, which is why they still fetch good prices. But the bureau and chest of drawers of the mid eighteenth century are cheaper than they have been for 30 years. Buy one with a good colour and it will be a friend for life.
My favourite chest of drawers was made from old scraps, pieces of an old galleon were used for the drawer lining and the show would was made of the walnut that they had. It has fallen apart a few times and lost its feet. My Dad bought it for me when I was training as a restorer. He bought it in a local sale and presented it to me flat packed. I slowly restored it out of hours. It had developed a lovely patina over its hard life. I loved it, I love it. To me that's as beautiful as the finest piece of Chippendale but for different reasons.
Early Georgian and modernist sit very well together; their simplicity and lack of ornament are a good backdrop to most rooms. These can then allow for a bit more ornament in the layering process.’
Max Rollitt, interior designer, antique dealer and bespoke maker
'When using antique furniture the ultimate goal is to create a timeless environment. By its very nature it is not subject to the constraints of fashion and will remain relevant through the ages.
Very few items of contemporary furniture improve with age and handling. With brown furniture this is the reverse, patina is created through the passing of time and constant human interaction. Items pick up scars and war wounds through their journey. To own a small part of history that has been on this planet for over 200 years is something everyone should find exciting.
Look for well drawn untouched pieces that contrary to the doom maker have and will always hold their value.'
Will Fisher, founder and owner of Jamb and Hawker Antiques
To finish with the great Robert Kime, who recently celebrated his 70th birthday.
‘Antiques can be like an old overcoat that tells you about its life. When clients move into a new house, they must feel as comfortable in their rooms as when they put on an old overcoat.’