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This circa 1947 Krabban hand-knitted wool carpet from Barbro Nilsson certainly qualifies as a statement piece. It brought $24,000 plus the buyer’s premium in June 2021 at Wright.

Go big AND go home: Five types of statement pieces

This circa 1947 Krabban hand-knitted wool carpet from Barbro Nilsson certainly qualifies as a statement piece. It brought $24,000 plus the buyer’s premium in June 2021 at Wright.
This circa 1947 Krabban hand-knitted wool carpet from Barbro Nilsson certainly qualifies as a statement piece. It brought $24,000 plus the buyer’s premium in June 2021 at Wright.

NEW YORK — Statement pieces make a room and speak to your personal style. They can be bold and flashy, or they can be understated, with their craftsmanship and elegance speaking volumes. These five types of objects can help you express yourself and elevate your living space.

Rugs

Rugs are excellent for establishing the look of a room and ensuring it is functional, balanced, and beautiful. Many people, when planning how to style an interior, think first about buying furniture, but veteran decorators know to start with the floor.

“A carpet is the soul of a room, providing warmth, comfort, softness, and color. Depending on your furnishing, and style, you can choose peaceful, quiet tones that provide a bass note to the interior, or you can add patterns and color to liven up a space with visual delight,” said Richard Wright, CEO of Rago Wright. “Personally, my favorite carpets are the Swedish rugs. I live with several in my home. These vary in the ways outlined above – quiet, classic patterns and punches of color. I have one of each variety.”

This Dragon lacquer box exudes a sense of dynamism and power. It sold for $22,000 plus the buyer’s premium in September 2019 at Gianguan Auctions.
This Dragon lacquer box exudes a sense of dynamism and power that marks a statement piece. It sold for $22,000 plus the buyer’s premium in September 2019 at Gianguan Auctions.

Chinese antiques

Statement pieces need not be big. They can be modestly sized but pack a punch through their design. Chinese antiques are a perfect example of this fact. They can be successfully integrated into an impressively wide range of stylistic settings. Mary Ann Lum, co-owner of Gianguan Auctions in New York, explains these objects are celebrated for their purity of form and craftsmanship, and they look almost uncannily at home in the eclectic environments favored by so many of today’s decorators. “Always functional, they can be whimsical, dignified, decorative, or actually structural, creating a harmonious balance,” she said.

Chinese antiques harmonize with the sleek, clean lines of mid-century Modern design with minimal fuss. “Think modern furniture with a Ningxia banner and a lacquer box as accessories,” she said. “The contrast of antique and modern decor is so intriguing and yet harmonious.”

Monumental bronzes, such as Joseph Havel’s 1999 work, ‘Table Cloth,’ make for strong statement pieces. It brought $17,500 at John Moran Auctioneers in June 2021.
Monumental bronzes, such as Joseph Havel’s 1999 work, ‘Table Cloth,’ make for strong statement pieces. It brought $17,500 at John Moran Auctioneers in June 2021.

Contemporary art

Buying art is highly personal, but contemporary art ticks many boxes. “Everyone should have three exceptional works: they can be a mix of mediums and express your taste,” according to John Moran Auctioneers’ contemporary art department. “Start with artists you may know personally, ask for studio visits, and go to your local galleries and auction houses, where you can physically share space with the works. Be open to what moves you.”

You can create a vignette with a select grouping of prints, or opt for a large-scale painting or even a striking sculpture that will command attention. “If you are choosing art for a specific space within your home, choose something that will work with the light you have. If you have a lot of windows, and the space is open and with natural light, try sculptures,” the department experts advised. “If you have low ceilings, or your space is dark and cavernous, try filling the space with drawings and other works on paper for a more intimate experience. Use art to create or enhance your mood, take risks, and have fun with it.”

Boasting a fine early surface, rich color, and great craftsmanship, this Virginia Chippendale sideboard table in walnut earns statement piece status. It made $75,000 plus the buyer’s premium at Jeffrey S. Evans & Assoc. in June 2016.
Boasting a fine early surface, rich color, and great craftsmanship, this Virginia Chippendale sideboard table in walnut earns statement piece status. It made $75,000 plus the buyer’s premium at Jeffrey S. Evans & Assoc. in June 2016.

American furniture

The best examples of American furniture can coexist with almost any decorative style or period. When looking for a choice piece to serve as a focal point in the home, target one piece at a time and buy the best example that you can afford.

“Think of a classic sideboard or sideboard table below a contemporary abstract painting or holding a studio glass sculpture,” said William F. Kimbrough, Vice President, Auctioneer and Department Head, Americana, Fine & Decorative Arts at Jeffrey S. Evans & Assoc. “These objects, while very different, can often provide an interesting sense of decorative contrast without being obtrusive. This type of design is very effective, as styles and periods are mixed in novel and appealing ways.”

“Overall, a great piece of antique furniture, well placed, really stands out in a contemporary open-floor plan home, giving the object room to breathe while also acting as a counterpoint of color and texture,” he said.

Any dining room would benefit from the presence of this Tiffany Studios Oriental Poppy chandelier, which sold for $550,000 plus the buyer’s premium in September 2020 at Fontaine’s Auction Gallery.
Any dining room would benefit from the presence of this Tiffany Studios Oriental Poppy chandelier, which sold for $550,000 plus the buyer’s premium in September 2020 at Fontaine’s Auction Gallery.

Tiffany Studios lamps

A commonality shared by statement pieces is an ability to blend effortlessly with any style of decor. This is certainly true of Tiffany lamps, which have been wildly popular since they debuted in the late 19th century.

John Fontaine III, head of 19th/20th Century Fine & Decorative Arts at Fontaine’s Auction Gallery, noted that Tiffany Studios lamps have attained strong collectible and decorative value. “Whether you are looking for a chandelier, table lamp, or floor lamp, Tiffany lamps are an alluring way to freshen up existing decor and present a room with a statement piece,” he said. “As with any aspect of interior design, it is important to buy the correct piece for the space, but being bold is necessary when buying a statement piece of this magnitude. Tiffany lamps are rare, so if one comes up for sale that you desire, it is important to make an attempt to purchase it, because you never know when another opportunity will arise.”

These lamps, with their nature-inspired and figural motifs, have a stunning appearance and timeless appeal. “Regardless of where the lamp is located in a room, it will command most of the attention, highlighting the naturalistic and expertly done workmanship that bring flowers, dragonflies, butterflies, and nature scenes to life.”