I have always loved old gesso art pieces.  They are inherently fragile, flaking, and chipping with use.  Think about that patina and try to duplicate it on the furniture you plan to paint.  If you have some hand-me-down wooden furniture, paint it or whitewash it.  I typically use flat paint and wax over the top for protection.  A painted piece can look like a sculpture and really hold its own in a space.  I have two eighteenth century chairs that we plan to paint at June DeLugas Interiors and put them with a more modern round table.  Make a list of items to paint including accessories and mirrors, all of which can take on a modern look if whitewashed.  Juxtapose the antique and modern styles and you have a great look, say the experts…designers.