18 Historic Homes with Modern Appeal

It's the best of both worlds — distinctive architectural details setting the stage for a mix of contemporary, vintage and antique furnishings. The resulting spaces are artfully eclectic, both stylishly edgy and comfortably classic.
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With its spectacular 19th-century painted ceiling and herringbone parquet flooring, this Paris apartment embodies the ideals of the city’s Haussmannian architecture. Isabelle Stanislas sought to create a dialogue between “old and new” when designing the space for an art collector client.

Photo by Olivier Löser.


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Ivory-linen-upholstered seating, celery-hued silk curtains and marigold velvet pillows create a mood of subtle and layered elegance in this Hollywood, California residence by Madeline Stuart. The 1930s home was designed by architect John Elgin Woolf, and was the former home of director George Cukor.

Photo by Dominique Vorillon.

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In a Gramercy Park apartment, Alexandra Loew used sculptural, chromatic pieces as counterpoints to the space’s classical architectural details.The contemporary photos are by Donald Sultan and Matthew Pillsbury, the Ribbon Chairs are by Jan Eckselius and the 1970s cocktail table is by Lella and Massimo Vegnelli.

Photo by Justin Bernhaut.

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When interior designer Catherine Kwong created the living room of the 2013 San Francisco Decorator Showcase, she sourced an antique gilt mirror with carvings that echo the ceiling’s fine gold detailing. The custom-painted floor design was inspired by a Cy Twombly painting.

Photo by Bess Friday.

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Janine Stone cleverly combined a sleek, resin-and-gold leaf dining table with a glass Lindsey Adelman chandelier to add contemporary finesse to this classically proportioned London dining room.

Photo by Alex James.

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A pair of Pierre Paulin’s Groovy chairs, an antique French settee and a Karl Springer coffee table occupy the living room of a home in Purchase, New York designed by Sasha Bikoff. The ceiling fixture is by Barovier & Toso.

Photo by Nicole Cohen.

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In this Hidden Valley, California living room, Cliff Fong used a host of mid-century Danish pieces — including Hans Olsen chairs and an Illum Wikkelsoe sofa from the 1950s — to echo the raw, natural textures of the poured concrete floor and sanded oak beams.

Photo by Art and Commerce.

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This New York City townhouse by Kathryn Scott juxtaposes custom plaster moldings and panel doors with a curated mix of pieces — including Christian Liaigre lamps and a pair of pony hair-upholstered Joseph-André Motte armchairs — to thoughtfully reference French style.

Photo by Ellen McDermott.

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This tightly edited Greenwich Village office by ASH NYC features a pair of cane-backed Pierre Jeanneret armchairs and a Gio Sarfatti desk lamp.

Photo by Christian Harder.

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In London’s Regent Park, Hubert Zandberg created a handsome, polished dining room featuring a bepsoke, scagliola-inlay rosewood dining table and a Jean Camuset tabletop sculpture. The dramatic Jacobean wall paneling was painted a pale gray hue to lighten the space.

Photo by Simon Upton.

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In a late 18th-century townhouse, Francis Sultana designed this living room (including the bespoke sofa and ottoman) around the large-scale artwork Reflection Memory Door by Zhang Huan. Pale gray plaster walls and neutral-hued upholstery offset the warm tones of the parquet floors and yellow silk pillows, and tie together the colors of the work. The armchair is by Gio Ponti.

Photo by Manolo Yllera.

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For the wall surface of a Greenwich Village duplex’s double-height living room, architect Michael Haverland reinterpreted the pattern of the original coffered ceiling using computer-generated shapes. The blue wool-upholstered armchairs are by Marco Zanuso, and the ottoman is by Edward Wormley.

Photo by Stephen Smith/Kristi Stiff Imaginare Co.

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In a Paris residential project known as Apartment 002, Bismut & Bismut placed objects, including Eileen Gray Transat armchairs and a bronze César sculpture, on white platforms that seem to hover around a PETAL coffee table by the designers.

Photos by Francis Amiand.

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The Ett Hem hotel in Stockholm, Sweden was designed by Ilse Crawford and her firm, Studioilse. Crawford updated the property — a 1910 Arts and Craft building — with a mixture of vintage and modern furnishings.

Photo courtesy of Studioilse.

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The gray silk-sheathed drawing room of a London residence by Peter Mikic features a gilt 19th-century mirror, a marble fireplace surround from Chesney’s and photography by Miles Aldridge.

Photo by Kate Martin.

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In this Paris apartment by architect Nicolas Schuybroek, the traditional Hausmannian architectural details are offset by clean-lined icons of modern design, include Pierre Jeanneret’s cane-back armchairs and Serge Mouille’s slender floor lamp.

Photo by Claessens & Deschamps.

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Douglas Mackie reinterpreted this mid-19th-century London townhouse for the modern age by installing a subdued silk wallpaper, and using sophisticated, simple pieces that include a linen-clad Christian Liagre sofa and a Callum Innes painting.

Photo by Gary Hamill.

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In a 19th-century Connecticut barn John Barman created a scheme that combines citrus hues with a laid-back, mid-century vibe (note the Hans J. Wegner Papa Bear chairs).

Photo by Eric Laignel.