How to Decorate In a Vintage Style
Looking to include vintage furnishings in your decor but unsure how to approach it? Here’s what you need to know to get started.
What exactly is a vintage piece? To be considered vintage, a piece of furniture has to be at least 20 years old. In addition, it generally reflects a certain time period in history. Regardless of your style preferences — shabby chic, boho or grand millennial to name a few — this guide will help you scout out vintage pieces that appeal to you.
Where to Start
Thrift stores and secondhand shops typically have a huge amount of inventory, which can be both beneficial and staggering, depending on how much vintage shopping experience you’ve racked up. New to the vintage marketplace? Consider looking to examples of artists and designers that use vintage pieces in their arrangements for inspiration.
As far as finding the best shopping spots, there is more to it than just the basic local thrift stores and well-known resale websites. Consider looking into antique malls, estate sales, home consignment shops and auctions. The internet has done a fine job of minimizing the work involved in locating these sources. Tip: Don’t rush! Take your time unearthing your favorite secondhand hangouts.
Qualities to Look For
If you’re accustomed to buying new furnishings, then shopping vintage may require you to adjust your mindset a bit. For example, perfection isn’t the most important factor with vintage. Instead, you want to look more at a piece’s structure.
When viewed from that perspective, vintage furnishings can prove to be really well built and include less common materials than those constructed today. One example of this is the use of inlaid wood. In fact, that’s one of the best parts of incorporating vintage and secondhand items into your designs — the financial accessibility of really high quality items. By taking your time and using a little patience, you can locate gorgeous vintage pieces that are reasonably priced.
Keep in mind that when buying vintage items, a weathered or “shabby chic” look can be a good thing. Having some wear, patina or other imperfections adds character and a sense of history. While you obviously don’t want anything overly worn out or crumbling, minor flaws like scratching, discoloring, and other blemishes can bring charm and beauty to a piece.
A big reason vintage devotees love decorating with imperfect pieces is due to the story they tell. Not only is there never a lack of conversation when hosting guests, but your adoption of the piece continues to add to its tale.
Styling Vintage Pieces
Once you’ve chosen the perfect vintage items for your space, it’s important that you don’t over-style them. Simply allow the piece to speak for itself. Regardless of what the object is — chairs, chest, table — it’s unnecessary to add embellishments to make it stand out. Keep things simple.
And if at first you don’t have an established spot for one of your vintage pieces, don’t worry. They are very adaptable, so get creative! For example, a large brass lamp can be at home just about anywhere simply by swapping out the shade. And if it’s big enough the lamp can be made into a stand-alone statement piece, based solely on the shade and its natural shine.
If you come across a vintage item that could use a little tender loving care, try not to feel intimidated. These types of pieces offer a huge opportunity for you to bring them back to life. Most items can be repaired, and if you’re not up to the job yourself, a local person or business can often be found to do it for you. Odds are you’ll still come out ahead.
Did you fall in love with a vintage piece, but aren’t sure if it can be fully integrated into your lifestyle? Consider thinking beyond its original purpose. For example, curtains can be turned into a bed canopy, an old armoire can be transformed into a bar, and a bar cart can be put to use holding your stereo system and record collection. It’s also totally possible to take several vintage treasures and display them together in a single vignette. Mix things up — some of the most striking interiors ooze personality and feature layers of vintage furnishings pulled from different styles, time periods, and geographical locations.