Philadelphia Antiques Show: In with the old

Beginning Saturday, more than 50 dealers will display antiques dating from Colonial America up to 1970, from museum-quality heirlooms to more affordable pieces, at the Convention Center.

“It’s the pre-eminent Americana show in the country. Seasoned collectors will find the best of the best, and new collectors will get incredible guidance from the dealers,” says Gretchen Riley, show chair.

Many visitors to the annual show, which benefits Penn Medicine, aren’t collectors at all. “Some people treat it like a trip to the museum, just to see beautiful things beautifully displayed,” Riley says.

This year, three local design firms are creating “designer rooms” using antiques supplied by the dealers. Gregory Augustine of August Interiors says the pieces inspired him to design a prewar apartment.

He shares a few tips on how to put an elegant, decades-spanning room together:

Experiment with mixing and matching

“What makes an interesting result is when you take antique objects and artwork, and mix them in with more contemporary items,” Augustine says. In his designer room, he combined an antique center table and two antique pier mirrors with a modern sofa, rug and light fixture.

Don’t shush your furniture

Be sure to “create a conversation between the antiques and other items in the room,” Augustine says. To demonstrate that technique, he hung up panels with brass nail heads to echo the gold leaf inlay on the center table and the gold frames on the pier mirrors.

“Borrow a detail from the antique and incorporate it into the larger scope of the room,” he says. “As a designer, you really want to create that dialogue.”

Novices welcome

You don’t have to be an expert to buy an antique. In fact, Augustine admits he isn’t an expert himself. “I don’t seek out an item because it’s a specific antique, but great details or an amazing wood grain will catch my eye,” he says. “If you respond to something, if you see it and love it, then you should have it in your everyday experience.”

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