The Rules of Decorating with Vintage

Old ways to open new doors.

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Vintage pieces do something to a room that new and custom pieces just can’t. Let’s face it, one of the fastest routes to a lifeless room is sticking to a single style. The most livable and inspiring rooms combine old and new pieces in a variety of styles to give them that effortless sense of having been assembled over time.

The appeal of buying vintage is partially the thrill of the hunt, and partially that moment when you find a piece and realize it’s going complete a room you thought was finished. Vintage decor is all about filling a home with charm, character, personality, and dimension.

So it’s time to forget the matchy-matchy look. And if you’re looking to create a new and fresh look in your home, scroll down to follow these easy tips that will help you get there with vintage decor.

Rule #1: Consider a room’s architecture.

This is a great place to start. If you live in a 1930s house, you can incorporate some period pieces, then add contemporary lighting, rugs, or accessories to bring the rooms into the 21st century. If you live in a brand new high-rise apartment, choose an Parisian rug, an antique mirror, or a vintage chandelier to create a sense of history and warmth.

Photo: Christopher Patey 

Vintage Italian Brass Shield Framed Mirror ($3000)

Rule #2: Respect the purpose of a vintage item.

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, and you don’t have to turn the wheel into a coffee table base either. At many flea markets, there is a lot of repurposing of vintage items. When you buy a vintage item, the beauty is that it will be relevant forever. Keep its end use classic and authentic.

Photo: Laure Joliet

Mid-Century Leather and Wood Dining Chair by Zanotta ($1200)

Rule #3: Collect useful vintage.

Anytime you see a vintage serving bowl, ashtray, vase, or candlestick that moves you, buy it. You can store all of your vintage serving bowls on an open shelf in your bookcase for easy access and they’re great to look at when you’re not using them. Ashtrays are always a good idea; vases and candlesticks—those are no-brainers.

Photo: Matt Sartain 

Vintage Ceramic Jars with Blue Stripes ($75)

Rule #4: Know the difference.

Decorating with vintage decor doesn’t mean you like anything old, worn out, or faded. To be a vintage all-star means you have to know the difference between vintage goodness and junk.

Photo: Reid Rolls

Mid-Century Chrome Adjustable Floor Lamp ($450)

Rule #5: It all comes down to contrasts.

Mix hard with soft, square with round,and  blocky with leggy.

Photo: Daniel Collopy

Martel Vintage Rug ($4500)


Out with the new and in with the old! Tell us your favorite tip in the comments below.

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