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Style a Vintage Home

Updated on September 23, 2015

Vintage wonderful

These days it is very fashionable to style your home with vintage finds. What most appeals to me, however, is the thought that anything in my home that is vintage, is unique. No-one else I know will have the same sofa, desk or lamp, because mine has survived decades of use intact, whereas the others it was manufactured alongside have disappeared into skips, or attics and will probably never be seen again. If you want unique, and you don't want to spend thousands on designer one-offs, then vintage is for you.

Vintage style is not something that you can go out one day on a mega shopping trip and fill up your car with. You won't achieve it in a day, a week or a month. It's more likely you will take a year or two to build up your collection. But that means your style will evolve, will be eclectic, and all those objects you fall in love with, will fit well together.

To start with, you might want to decide what decade of style you most love. Is it 1920's Art Deco, 30s and 40s austerity chic, 50's kitsch and glamour, 60's flower power or 70s boho? Even the 1980s are becoming vintage (though I do object to this as I still remember this decade very clearly - surely this can't be vintage?!). You might find yourself wanting to pick out the best of a couple of decades - some 70's crochet throws combined with 50's G plan furniture. In reality, everyone's style evolved during the 20th century and no-one threw everything they owned out at the turn of every decade. If you lived through it you will remember that your parents 60's wallpaper sat quite happily next to their 70's cushion covers. You too could mix and match a little and still have an authentic style.

Vintage often gets mixed up with shabby chic. These two styles do blend well but you don't have to have them both. If you want pure vintage, avoid painted furniture, lace and the 'soft' feel of lots of plump cushions and velvety throws and that 'cottage' chic look. Vintage done well can feel very clean and even contemporary, whereas shabby chic is more about opulence and clutter.

Different decades of vintage combined well: 60s plastic with the solidity of austerity furniture and a mirror styled from an even earlier period. A Victorian radiator in the background doesn't look out of place.
Different decades of vintage combined well: 60s plastic with the solidity of austerity furniture and a mirror styled from an even earlier period. A Victorian radiator in the background doesn't look out of place. | Source

A little goes a long way

When it comes to vintage, you don't have to buy a lot of older items to make an impact - a little can go a long way. Much of contemporary style is plain and sleek. Think white kitchens, plain sofas, white walls etc. You could still buy your basics from somewhere like Ikea, as long as you then add the right vintage touches.

Vintage cookware can add colour to a plain kitchen
Vintage cookware can add colour to a plain kitchen | Source

Think vintage cookware, canisters and tins for the kitchen. Displayed either on shelves or out on your worktops they will add a vintage feel to your kitchen with a bit of colour and interest. Vintage teatowels (which you can pick up on Ebay) hung on a rail are useful as well as decorative.

In the living room go for vintage lampshades or lamps. Look online and find vintage material and make yourself a few cushion covers. Buy a 70s leather pouffe, or a 60s coffee table. Frame some LP covers or vintage film posters.

In the bedroom find vintage mirrors (it's easy to source these on the internet and you will also find them in charity shops), bedspreads and linens. Find a 50s dressing table or a 40s wardrobe (often vintage wardrobes are beautifully made in solid wood). If you are lucky you may find a vintage rug to add a little softness to your floor.

vintage glamour with a 70's rug.
vintage glamour with a 70's rug. | Source
A colourful vintage teatowel
A colourful vintage teatowel | Source
Vintage linens
Vintage linens | Source

Some vintage decorative touches

It's also easy to add some DIY vintage décor to your home. Websites like Graphics Fairy and Pinterest have lots of free vintage images you can download and print out - all it costs you is paper and ink. Frame these however you want (some may be best suited to wooden frames, some to plastic etc) and hang them on your walls. Buy old LPs with interesting covers in charity shops or from Ebay and frame those.

Occasionally vintage wallpaper comes up on Ebay (though this can be a limited supply and may be expensive). You could paper one 'feature' wall, or if it really is just a sample of the paper, frame it.

You may be able to find vintage books in charity shops, second hand book shops and on Ebay. As long as they are not expensive ones worthy of resale, why not remove the cover and frame that? Personally I love the vintage covers on books from the 60s.

Old adverts can be appealing
Old adverts can be appealing | Source
Find good graphic images in old comics
Find good graphic images in old comics | Source

Old comics are also a great source of art to frame. I am a regular at vintage fairs and have bought comics from the 60s and 70s from as little as 50p each. Inside you will find great artwork but I've also found wonderful, vintage adverts with products or headlines which are funny or very non-PC! I love framing these.

Old postcards can look great grouped together in frames - try the graphic ones more than old scenes of beachfronts. I have seen a collection of the old saucy postcards framed and put on a wall and they looked fantastic (and provide a talking point!).

Anything can be decorative, from an old magazine, to a bookend, to a Homepride 'Flour Man'. Heavy Pottery vases from the 70s in graphic colours or designs fell out of fashion but are good quality and often turn up in charity shops. I have seen these increasingly popping up in interior design magazines but they can still be snapped up for a few pounds in a charity shop.

The Homepride men
The Homepride men | Source
Once out of favour, seventies vases are a great statement piece
Once out of favour, seventies vases are a great statement piece | Source
A vintage travel poster can look very appealing framed and hung on a wall
A vintage travel poster can look very appealing framed and hung on a wall | Source

So where do I find these things?

So you have made the decision to go for vintage style. Where can you go and find these wonderful items?

Of course Ebay is a good start. Try searching 'vintage homeware' etc and see what comes up. There are often vintage fairs around the UK and these will be advertised on the internet. If you are lucky enough to live in or near a big city, google vintage shops near you. Every high street has a charity shop these days and every charity shop has a section with old vases, dinner sets, cookware etc. You won't be lucky every time you go in, so be a regular. It's also worth getting to know the shop staff - if they know you look 70s crochet or 60s fabric then when it does come in, they may keep it to one side just for you.

Another great source of vintage at a good price is all those typically English 'bric-a-brac' shops. Tucked behind the tat you may find a vintage gem. One person's unwanted jumble is another person's vintage treasure.

Those of you lucky enough to have an extended family with many older relatives might be fortunate to find they have genuine original G plan furniture stashed in the garage, or a 60s lamp tucked in the attic that they don't want. Offer to give these a good home!

Join websites like Freegle where people offer unwanted items for free to the first person who can come and collect them. There are also local area Facebook groups where people offer items either for free, for a swap or a small fee. Go to Facebook and search 'buy, sell, swap' and your local group will pop up.

Being a vintage style hunter means being proactive. You will need to check websites like Ebay and Facebook regularly as well as local events websites that will tell you about vintage fairs. You'll need to visit local charity shops weekly or monthly, and hunt out local vintage shops and bric a brac sales. It's also a good idea to tell friends and family about your favourite vintage era or brand so they can keep a lookout too. If they spot something they think you will like, they can snap it on your phone and send you a photo.

For a little effort, you will be rewarded with a lot of style.

A good book for styling a vintage home


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