How To Incorporate Antiques Into Your Decor

Summer is nearly upon us and that means it’s time to get out there and go treasure hunting! The local antique shops are open and filled with goodies, and there’s yard sales, estate sales, kijiji and yes, sometimes we do find incredible things at the side of the road! If you’re on the hunt for unique decor items, summer is a great time for it. We’ve got a few ideas and inspirations to share to help you incorporate your fantastic finds into your home.

Display a Collection


Henhouse has always had a love for antiques. Our favourite look mixes modern with vintage or antique accessories. Antiques can add depth, character, warmth, and texture to a space, and it’s always great to be able to breathe new life into old or forgotten items.

There are many, many ways to incorporate antiques into any room, but one look that makes a bold statement is displaying a collection. The photos above are great examples of displaying groups of like items together. Vintage oil paintings hung gallery style, a collection of vintage dishware in a monochromatic scheme, or old wooden utensils – the key here is grouping the items together for maximum impact.

Martha Stewart is the queen of collections – If you’re looking for ideas for display, or collecting look to Martha!

Chose What You Love


When you’re out treasure hunting be sure to follow your heart and have fun! Oftentimes something will just call to you, a funky mirror, a brightly coloured vintage quilt, an old cast iron kettle. Whatever it is take a minute to consider it and think about how it might work in your home. When you find something you absolutely love, you can find a creative way to mix into your home.

Above, designer Darryl Carter uses antique treasures to create a focal point. When you have one really unusual item it will always draw attention. Instead of trying to make it blend in, let it stand out and place it in a way that shows it off. Having an element of the unexpected is a great design trick that takes a space to the next level.

It’s All in the Mix

@laurenliess, @peterdunhamdesign

Mixing it up is the name of the game when incorporating antiques. Layering the old with the new makes for a fresh and interesting look. Items don’t need to match what you have, in fact creating contrast can pull a look together.

Antique items can be used to unify a space, like in the kitchen on the left. Here, designer Lauren Liess uses antique oil paintings to bring together the sleek lighting and finishes, with the more rustic and warm wood tones of the island. The look is soft and cozy with lots of character.

Antiques can also be used to create a bold contrast that’s fun and exciting. Peter Dunham’s kitchen design on the bottom right has a traditional country kitchen feeling, but features industrial lighting, and stunning painted vintage chairs that bring the space to life.

Incorporating antiques is a lot of fun, it’s a playful and creative process. Don’t be afraid of trying new things, moving things around, repurposing and reimagining. Now that you have our handy tips, get out there into the sun and have fun antiquing this summer!

What You Should Know Before Hiring a Designer

Happy Spring! As the weather begins to warm up many of us start to feel that urge to freshen things up, and we begin planning and preparing for home renovations or redecorating projects. For those who are considering hiring a designer, there are a few things to consider and perhaps you have some questions about how to choose a designer, how much it will cost, and what the benefits are. 

We think this is a great time to share a Q&A to answer some of the big questions for you here. We’ve paired our article with some of our current favourite work by designers we love for inspiration to fuel your projects!

Laurel Liess @laurenliess

What are the benefits of hiring a professional designer?

Last year on the blog we wrote this article highlighting a few of the reasons to hire a designer for kitchen renovations. Overall, hiring a designer for any renovation is a great way to get good value for your money and time, ensure a high quality job, and remove a lot of the burden of planning and managing a project.


Laurel Liess @laurenliess

Will I get better prices for tradespeople and decor items?

Yes, designers sometimes get better pricing from our tradespeople and vendors, but we also get a much better level of service. An experienced designer has long-standing relationships with the people and businesses in the industry and that goes a long way! We also only work with people we trust to do a great job, so you know you’re in great hands and you can avoid the process of finding quality contractors, and losing time and money if you hire the wrong people.


Laurel Liess @laurenliess

What are some common expectations clients have that aren’t realistic, and how can the designer help set them up for success?

We are careful about setting up client’s expectations right from the beginning. We’d never want to create a situation where a client is caught off guard or disappointed. We’re always upfront with our clients about whether or not what they are asking for is realistic in terms of time and budget.

Oftentimes renovations cost more than what is expected and take more time. It depends on the project, but consider the time it takes to plan, schedule trades, and source just the right items at the right price. The best news is that you’ve hired a team of people who are dedicated to coming up with solutions that work with your budget and time. We’ve completed many projects that mix high and low end items, or broken down a large whole-home project up over a few years to fit the budget. We can be flexible!


Andrew Howard @andrewjhow

What information, questions or planning should be considered before meeting with a designer?

Look at the big picture, jot down all of the components of the project that you can think of and what your vision is for the final result. Think about how much you want to spend on the project and write that down too. Be up front about these things with your designer when you meet with them.


Andrew Howard @andrewjhow

How do I choose the right designer?

Do your research, look at their website, their Facebook and Instagram, ask trusted friends and neighbours for referrals. It’s important that the look and feel of the designer’s portfolio fits in with the aesthetic that you love. Every designer works a bit differently, and many are capable of creating different styles, but usually they excel or are known for a particular style. When you narrow it down and have the chance to meet a few designers, you want to feel comfortable with them and that you are listened to! Having someone design your home is an intimate experience and it can be wonderful if the designer is right for you.


William Rankin McLure @william_mclure

Before a project is underway, how do we make sure we’re on the same page in terms of budget, timeline and aesthetic?

The designer will likely set up a meeting with you to go over all of the details and budget before getting things started. At Henhouse we compile a complete design concept including mood boards, source lists, layouts and cost breakdowns. You should have a clear idea of what the expected outcomes are, the process, and the cost. It’s in everyone’s best interest that we are on the right path.


William Rankin McLure @william_mclure

What if I change my mind or want to go in a different direction with the design? When is it too late?

It’s much easier to change things earlier on. That being said, last minute changes do happen. Nothing is permanent, but big changes to the design late in the game will cost a lot of time and money. These kinds of situations can be mitigated – the designer should give you opportunities to voice your thoughts, and be considerate and respectful of them. As a client, never be afraid to speak up at any time during the process, and if you have a concern address it right away.


William Rankin McLure @william_mclure

What roles and responsibilities will the designer take on?

This depends on the designer and on the client’s needs. At Henhouse, the minimum we provide is a full design concept, including sourcing decor items, layouts, costs etc. This alone can be a big project, and sometimes eager homeowners are willing to tackle the rest on their own. Most times we get hired on to complete the renovation from a to z including creating a design concept, scheduling and managing trades, purchasing materials, finishes, furnishings, fabrics, hardware, and accessories, and tracking the budget.


How does an interior designer bill for their services? What is the best way to know you’re getting a good deal? 

Don’t go into a relationship with a designer looking for a deal on their services! Hiring a designer is an investment. Like we mentioned, there is value in a job done correctly and efficiently, and having access to a designer’s resources and knowledge. We are very used to working within a budget and we know where to save and where to spend and what will give you the most value and impact for your money. In terms of billing, that will vary – have a conversation with your designer early on.


What rooms or pieces are worth investing in? Are there certain things you would never cut corners on? 

Rooms that are hard working or highly used are good places to invest in. The kitchen comes to mind as it is often the heart of the home, where families spend a lot of time. A great kitchen also adds value to the home, so you’ll likely see a return on your investment.

For items that are worth investing in, usually it’s things that get more wear but it also depends on the homeowners and their lifestyle. For example, if you love having your family and friends over for meals you might get a lot of use and enjoyment out of a beautiful, high quality dining set. It comes back to how much value you’ll get out of the items.


We hope our Q&A has helped to clear up some of the common questions about working with a designer. If you have more questions or are interested in working with Henhouse on an upcoming project please get in touch! 

A Stunning Modern Custom Home

Last summer we had the opportunity to work with MRB Contracting on two projects in Halifax – Harvard Street, and Starboard. We wrote about our progress last July and shared the digital renderings of our plans. Since then, both projects have been completed and we’re excited to share them with you!

For Harvard Street, we were tasked with designing the kitchen as well as the living area builtins. You can see MRB’s Harvard Street photos here on their website.

And this is Starboard, a beautiful brand new build in Halifax. The Henhouse team was hired to design a custom kitchen, three bathrooms, builtin units on the main and lower floors, and to select all of the finishes throughout the house including flooring, fixtures and lighting.

Up until last month we hadn’t had the opportunity to see the finished project and we had only met with the homeowners once during the design phase. For most projects we work collaboratively with our clients, keeping in close contact throughout the process. With the Starboard project we were given lot of creative control. We enjoy working either way but, as you can imagine, it is fun to have so much freedom!

The clients generously allowed us into their home and we were thrilled to see the space in person and to get some gorgeous photographs. We hired local photographer Julian Parkinson who did a beautiful job capturing the space.

Oftentimes when we’re photographing our work we’ll bring in a few items to make the space shine for the camera! Because these homeowners have just recently moved in, we had the chance to go all out for this photoshoot! We brought in gorgeous items from some of our favourite local shops in Halifax, and mixed them in with the homeowner’s items. The two armchairs and the coffee table in the living area are from Attica, the rug is from Tabrizi, and the artwork is from Gallery 1.

It was such a treat to be welcomed into this home and to work with the many very talented people and businesses involved. Special thanks to the homeowners, MRB, Julian Parkinson, Gallery 1, Attica and Tabrizi.

Teen Bedroom Makeover

We’ve just finished up a really sweet project in the home of one of our longtime clients. Every now and again we have clients who hire us to renovate one area of their home, then re-hire us again (and sometimes again and again!) for other areas.

This homeowner originally hired us to update her master bedroom. Soon after, we got to work renovating the entire main floor including the kitchen and dining area , the front foyer, the powder room and living room. Next up was their daughter’s bedroom. Here’s a look before we gave it the Henhouse treatment.
At 16, our client’s daughter was ready to ditch the pink princess look in favour of something more grown up but still fun. When we asked about her vision for the space she said “anything but pink” ! The look needed to be more sophisticated and be able to transition into a guest room in the years to come. We worked with both mother and daughter to come up with a design plan that suited them both.

Our colour palette was rich with blues, soft greys and hints of raspberry and lime. We decided to repurpose the bed by reupholstering it in a rich velvet with green piping. To keep things playful and casual we created the look of a daybed by adding in lots of toss cushions in a variety of fabrics. We also installed sweet and simple sconces on opposite ends of the bed to add to the cozy daybed feeling.

A key feature of our design was the giant cork board. Our teen is a talented athlete and we wanted to give her a way to show off her recent medals, photos, and inspirations. We had this cork board custom built and we love how it turned out.

We think this teen bedroom turned out beautifully and our clients are so happy! The layered blues and lush velvet bed elevate the look and create that sophisticated feeling that we were after, while the funky boho toss cushions and giant cork board offer a sense of fun and youthfulness. Thanks so much to our wonderful clients for inviting us back to into their home!

© 2009–2020 Henhouse

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