MISSION, KS--(Marketwire - February 14, 2011) -  (Family Features) Homeowners seek interiors with fine furnishings and accessories. Whether enlisting interior designers or doing it themselves, many are turning to a popular trend of using traditional furnishings in a range of juxtaposed décors.

"With emphasis on comfort and personal style, many homes include varied elements of aesthetic form and practical function," says Mike Howarth, president and owner of Englishman's Fine Furnishings, a national company specializing in customized furniture and interior kitchen design. Planning spaces boasting this combination has challenges but is attainable with some insider knowledge. Having designed English- and European-style reproduction furniture for many years, Howarth provides the following Q&A advice.

Q. How can rooms be decorated to maximize form and function?
A. To get started, decide how a room will be used. For example, consider if a dining room will be for formal or casual dining, or both. Determining if the room will host adults or children helps greatly with furniture selection. We recommend solid wood tables as they are resistant to permanent scratches. As dining rooms tend to be formal spaces, tables, chairs, china cabinets and sideboards can serve as a home's finest furnishings. Yet, choosing comfortable pieces is essential. Our line, for example, includes furnishings that offer all the beauty and mystic of antiques but with the benefits of being new furniture.

Q. What makes a well-furnished room?
A. Begin with style and design; then follow with size and placement. Rooms should have space for traffic paths with unblocked openings. Use heavier pieces in larger rooms. It is good to scale spaces with layout plans, or even tape out the sizes of the pieces onto the floor to visualize placement. Customization is also an ongoing trend. We've customized furniture in most every size and style according to specific space constraints. Layout drawings based upon dimensions, like those our in-house designer Anita Vreeland creates, can help delineate well-made arrangements. 

Q. How can reproduction furniture and antiques be differentiated?
A. Only a trained eye should be able to tell the difference between reproductions and antiques. The thickness of veneers can be a sign, since antiques generally have more layers. Using the correct style of fixing blocks, drawer joints, screws or nails and hardware is critical. Most important is a finish with style-appropriate shading in the polish and patina. Many of our customers select our furniture because it is designed with realistic markings as if sourced from English country homes. A particular favorite is our Age of Oak Collection dresser and rack with a rustic oak finish to give the authentic appearance of age.

Q. Should furniture match interior colors?
A. This can be very much a personal choice, but there are a few things to consider. Warm color palettes for walls, flooring and fabrics can dictate the use of warm tones for wood finishes. Likewise, a room's foundational cool tones are best paired with finishes in similar colors. Mahogany, walnut, cherry, oak, alder and maple wood options provide unique appearances. Our in-house design schematics for traditional interiors include mahogany and walnut finishes. Though, for transitional looks, we suggest mixing it up a bit. Blending harmonized wood types in one piece creates design interest. One example is our mid-cherry wood dining table, customizable with lighter yew wood banding. 

Q. How does furniture hold value?
A. Fine-quality pieces hold value as they age. Value is characterized by handcrafted manufacturing that entails subtle or ornate detailing and careful attention at every stage. Long-lasting value comes from furniture manufactured by skilled craftsman with experience derived from studying high-end pieces from past eras. We believe the reproductions we design today can become tomorrow's antiques. To learn more, visit www.englishmansfurniture.com.