How to mix country antiques with contemporary art

The 18th-century town house belonging to antiques dealers Robert Hirschhorn and John Hall is masterclass in mixing old and new

One of the pleasures of running an antiques business is that you get to live with pieces that you are passionate about. This is certainly one of the perks that Robert Hirschhorn and John Hall revel in. They not only deal in antique country furniture but live with some fine examples of it in their 18th-century south London town house.

As they use their home as a showroom too, the tug comes when they have to part with a beloved piece. Their elegant blend of country furniture, folk art and spongeware, with the occasional piece of contemporary pottery or bold modern art, is certainly a unique and covetable look.

‘Mixing in new pieces creates a tension between the modern and the old. It makes the overall look much more interesting,’ says Robert. In their dining room 19th-century oak tables are contrasted with mid-century Scandinavian glass and Royal Copenhagen faience from the 1950s on the shelves. Below the mirror is a touch of folk art: an early-20th-century carved decoy duck, used for catching birds.

Above the bed hangs an Arts and Crafts monochrome crewel-work panel, while in the corner is an 18th-century painted Welsh Windsor armchair. At the end of the bed is a contemporary celadon dish by Ludlow-based potter Andrew Crouch.

A shimmer of opulence, in the form of a rock-crystal-and-amethyst chandelier and gold curtains, contrasts with the 18th-century Welsh oak cricket table. The landscape painting above the fireplace is a piece by Scottish painter and poet Jill Mylius.

Find more ideas and a history of English country folk furniture in Homes & Antiques' February 2016 issue, out now.

Photographs: Andreas von Einsiedel

Robert Hirschhorn and John Hall's home appeared in the July issue of Homes & Antiques. Back issues are still available. To purchase a copy click here

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