The Art of the Mix: Blending Antiques with Mid-Century Furnishings

Glencoe designer Missie Bender helps this North Shore family marry their antique pieces and modern furnishings in high style.

Good design is a powerful thing, a point confirmed during my recent visit to Jon and Betsy Tilkemeier’s four-bedroom mid-century ranch home in Glencoe with the couple’s interior designer, Missie Bender.

The Tilkemeier’s youngest son, Charlie, age 12, was home from school with a cold that day (no such luck for their oldest son, Graham, 14), but the prospect of showing off his family’s home seemed to give him a burst of energy.


Soon enough, Charlie had taken over the tour, pointing out his family’s many classic pieces, which include fine Empire antiques, pieces of Americana and mid-century furnishings by designers such as Charles Eames and Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe. Charlie, a Lego enthusiast, had even built a model of Mies Van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House, a prime example of 20th century modern architecture located in Plano, Ill. “As you can see, I added an extra story,” Charlie explained.


Coming from a long line of collectors, it’s no surprise that Charlie knows more about interior design than many adults. And watching Missie Bender mix and match his parents’ pieces from different eras might inspire anybody to put their own spin on things. “They wanted me to pull the house together cohesively and give their home a little glamour,” Bender says.


To that end, Bender had the dated wood wall paneling in the living room with drywall, which she covered in a metallic grass cloth wall covering—one of several wall coverings that she incorporated throughout the home. “Wall coverings add another layer of texture and pattern,” Bender explains, pointing to the large-scale patterns on the wall coverings in the entry foyer and the “quirky but sophisticated” bird pattern on the accent wall in the family room. “They were on the fence about that selection, but I told them that it was going to be fabulous, and they love it,” Bender says. “It’s almost a piece of art.”

Behind the bookshelves in the family room is another metallic wall covering. Look closely, and you’ll notice a metallic thread in the embroidery on the dining room draperies and on many seat cushions and pillows. “It gives everything a dressed-up, sophisticated feel,” Bender says, pointing to the custom lampshades with metallic fringe that she created for a pair of glass vases that she converted into table lamps.


As it turns out, with the right backdrop and a little professional help, the Tilkemeier’s antiques and mid-century modern furnishings coexist seamlessly together. “Some people are scared about mixing different styles together, but to me, it doesn’t matter where they come from or what they were used for originally,” Bender says. “I love mixing things from different eras.”

No doubt Charlie agrees.


More photos from the home…