Karen Barlow - Antique & Salvage Home Interior Trends for 2018

Posted 23rd January 2018

We invited Manchester Interior Designer & Stylist Karen Barlow, who loves nothing more than a day-out buying at an antiques and salvage show, to give us the lowdown on what trends she is seeing for 2018 and how to use fair finds in your home to add interest, personality and lasting style.

Karen Barlow Profile

At the start of a new year there is much talk about which new trends we should all be buying into and, as an interior designer and stylist, I’m as interested as everybody to know what these trends are, in fact it’s vital that I’m aware of them. However, when I’m buying for my own home or consulting for a private client I prefer to stay away from short lived trends.

I’ve always been attracted to period features, antiques, salvage and vintage objects which add a depth of interest to an interior – all come with a rich texture or patina that I can mix alongside newer items to curate an interesting balance. 

I’m often on props buying trips for interior shoots and a large antiques fair is my absolute favourite destination for sourcing unexpected treasures. As well as beautiful antiques, there are reasonably priced everyday items which can easily be repurposed around the home to create a quirky and unexpected look. I have some basics which I always look out for; for me these are essential in creating an interesting and layered home.


Karen Barlow Postcards

If the frame is flaking or chipped and the glass silvered (or foxed) with age, so much the better as it will add instant character to a room. A large mirror hung on or leant up against a wall can bounce so much light back into a room, and two opposite each other work wonders for lighting up a space. Some of the best mirrors I have bought were at the end of the day at an antiques fair when the dealers were packing away - they are often happy to strike a bargain and sell an item rather than take a full van back home. Don’t be afraid to offer them what you are prepared to pay for it (within reason), you might be pleasantly surprised. Likewise, it’s important to recognise the value of things as traders are often selling at sensible prices.

Picture frames & Art Work

Karen Barlow Gallery Wall

The gallery wall is an enduring trend and has a lot of scope for character, and there is no better place than an antiques fair for finding unique pieces; from original paintings to pop art prints from the 1970s and original shop signage, it’s all there. I also like to frame new prints in vintage frames to add further interest to my wall of art. Mixing frame texture and style looks great; plain black, antique gilt and wooden frames painted in a colour of choice all add to the individuality of a gallery wall. Don’t dismiss frames with broken glass, as new glass can be recut to fit for a very reasonable price.


Karen Barlow Kitchen

Antique chopping boards propped-up against walls, old metal milk crates for keeping sauces and bottles together and enamel utensils all add to the character of a kitchen. I like to keep essentials such as rice and oats in old sweet jars, and the chairs around our kitchen table were from an old French school - it’s this time-worn mix of items that makes a kitchen really feel like home to me.


Ticking Karen Barlow New

I’m always on the hunt for washed linen, sacking and ticking fabric to make into cushion covers and blinds. A trend for 2018 is over sized florals; big 1950s, blowsy blooms in bark-cloth fabric will all be on my list to add to the mix this year. Tribal rugs and Kilims can be picked up at antiques fairs too and, if a little too worn around the edges, they can be snapped up cheaply and be up-cycled as chair and footstools covers and made into large floor-cushions.

Wire & Wicker 

Karen Barlow Bathroom

With the enduring trend for slow living, open fires and wood burners have become ever more popular. To house your logs, look for old baskets - the type used by commercial laundries or backstage at a theatre with stencilled branding on are rather attractive. Wire and metal bins and buckets are perfect for keeping on the hearth to hold all your fireside equipment too. I’m a bit obsessed with vintage wire work; old bread trays for holding produce in my kitchen, industrial storage for bathrooms and old stationary trays for collections of soaps. These are all to be found in abundance at antique fairs, with many of the European pieces being especially interesting.

Object D’art

Postcards Karen Barlow

By this I simply mean knick-knacks; time worn objects that can be placed on a shelf or mantelpiece to create layers of interest. The list here is endless, but things like tiny old shoes, black and white postcards tucked inside mirror frames or wooden beads hanging from a hook against a white tiled wall to create a juxtaposition of old and new look great. Collections of vintage tiles used in a patchwork pattern behind a cooker or bathroom sink works wonders to lift a look. Using unexpected objects to create little vignettes within your home will create interest and narrative and make it personal to you. 

There is so much out there to find, and every time I visit an antiques fair with a list of what I’m looking for I come home with so many more items that I anticipated - things I didn’t imagine I would find. It’s a truly exciting and interesting way to shop for your home and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Follow Karen Barlow's blog at karenbarlowstylist.co.uk or find her on Instagram @karen_barlow

Don't miss our next event, 29th & 30th January, Lincoln Aniques & Home Show. All details can be found here.

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