Interior Design

Matthew Williamson's secrets to working antiques and vintage finds into contemporary rooms – and what to avoid

How to navigate the wonderful world of antiques – and turn your home into a treasure trove of timeless beauty

Matthew Williamson
(Image credit: Matthew Williamson)

While Matthew Williamson is celebrated for his use of maximalist prints and fearless color palette, he is equally renowned in the world of antiques. The interior design master has blessed homes along the Spanish shoreline with bright and beautiful pieces that stamp his spaces with elements of individuality. 

‘There’s real pleasure in foraging for a special piece and potentially getting a bargain or something unique that can’t be bought at a department store. Look for pieces that speak to you, which add an element of curiosity so that they bring character to a room,’ Matthew begins, in discussion with H&G

Here, Matthew reveals his Interior design tips and sourcing secrets, so we can mirror the ageless ambiance from his creative kingdom in northern Majorca. 

1. The only rule is: there are no rules 

Matthew Williamson Mallorca home with patterned wallpaper

(Image credit: Matthew Williamson)

Combining diverse interior styles from various decades and knowing how to mix patterns in a room takes skill and experience, especially in a contemporary home. However, the uniqueness of this mix is what makes antiques so special, Matthew suggests. 

‘My only formula is not to not have a formula. I’ve honed what I like in terms of style and period – I’m drawn to the 1970s, to gilding, to rustic pieces. The mix is what creates the magic,’ he shares. 

2. Accentuate the location of your home

turquoise living room

(Image credit: Matthew Williamson)

‘It’s important that the vernacular of a home’s location plays a part. In my own home in Deià, I’ve embraced tiled floors and rustic artefacts, but I can still throw in an English Chesterfield sofa. If a look is too prescribed from any genre, for me, that just creates flatness and predictability,’ Matthew shares. 

3. Prioritize furniture's shape – and change its color 

Matthew Williamson bedroom in Mallorca

(Image credit: Matthew Williamson)

‘I’m not wild about too much dark wood; it can be depressingly heavy and gloomy. I prefer painted or paler woods,’ Matthew declares, in his discussion of the color he would avoid. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ever invest in the dark wooden furniture; as Matthew suggests, the color is often secondary to the shape and style of an antique find. 

‘I recently used an amazing Spanish wooden bed with turned posts that were a wonderful shape but were too heavy, so I had it painted in a glossy electric blue, like a lacquered effect,’ he explains. 

4. Rewrite old antique conceptions

'Antique and vintage furniture isn’t the preserve of fuddy-duddy stately homes and museums. I want to break down this misconception about antiques and vintage, highlighting strong pieces and great design that can work in modern and fresh schemes,’ Matthew adds. 

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This interview was by Kerryn Harper-Cuss for Homes & Gardens June 2021. To buy back issues or to subscribe to the magazine monthly, you can follow the link above.

Megan is the News and Trends Editor at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes. As the News Editor, she often focuses on emerging microtrends, sleep and wellbeing stories, and celebrity-focused pieces. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.