Many households have at least one piece of family heirloom furniture in storage. From old china passed down through generations to a timeworn jewelry armoire, many families do not know what to do with these vintage décor items that don’t seem to fit with modern-day styles.
While the two-ton cast-iron wood stove that your great-grandparents used might not be very useful or practical in a kitchen with a state-of-the-art electric range, elegant bamboo cabinetry, and dozens of other high-performance modern-day appliances, you can find ways to incorporate vintage décor inside a modern home.
Benefits of Vintage Décor
Antique furnishings and decorations are often more durable and better made than their modern-day counterparts.
Whereas a $100 kitchen table made from medium-density fiberboard obeys today’s economic mantra of planned obsolescence, the solid walnut dining room table hand-crafted by an elderly carpenter, who might even have hand-selected the tree from which he would carve his creation, is built to last several lifetimes.
Whether you enjoy antique hunting for potential furnishings for your home, or you have inherited antique furniture that is gathering dust, finding ways to use beautiful, durable and artistic furniture in your home is a step up from the cheap, flimsy items that characterize much of the market today.
Below, we offer seven ideas to help homeowners integrate vintage décor into their modern-day homes.
1. Mix Modern and Vintage
There is no interior design rule that says all furniture in your home has to come from the same era. In fact, mixing pieces of furniture that evidently come from different generations is a unique way to add character to rooms.
For example, combining a modern-day office chair with a vintage, antique office desk will catch a visitor’s eye.
Solid wood desks last for a lifetime, but the thought of spending hours in front of the computer sitting on an accompanying straight-backed wood chair might not sound enticing. One of the main benefits of modern furnishings is that they tend to offer more comfort, and a plush office chair is a great present-day complement to the rugged, weathered look of an old desk.
2. Place Vintage Décor in Uncommon Spaces
Let’s say you come across a beautiful hand-crafted dresser made by a local Amish carpenter, but you already have color-coordinated dressers that go perfectly with your master bedroom.
While conventional wisdom is that the only use for this piece of furniture is to store clothing, placing a gorgeous vintage dresser in your living room will give you a unique storage space in an area often in need of a place to accommodate old magazines, pillowcases, records for your vintage turntable, and other odds and ends.
Thinking outside the box will allow you to come up with new ways to incorporate vintage décor throughout your home.
3. Don’t Fret Small Imperfections
Oftentimes, vintage furniture shows its age. If your grandmother’s china has a few chips or scratches, consider this a conscious design strategy to bring a bit of history into your kitchen.
Similarly, instead of consulting a carpenter to sand away the scratches and dents from old tables, chairs, or other pieces of wooden furniture, let these imperfections speak for themselves and add organic character to your home’s interior.
One of the best budget tips for a luxurious home is to use (and even celebrate) small imperfections with interior design.
4. Paint Vintage Furniture to Match the Wall
If a beautiful piece of vintage furniture simply doesn’t fit with a certain room in your home where you think it would be useful, consider painting the piece the same color as the wall, or coordinate with the rest of the room’s color scheme.
This will help the piece blend in with the overall design strategy while offering the durability and craftsmanship that often accompanies antique and vintage household items.
5. Mix-and-Match Kitchenware
Another great way to naturally add classy vintage décor to your kitchen is to get away from the assumption that all pieces of kitchenware have to match. Flatware and cutlery sets can be mixed and matched to allow for variations of patterns and designs.
When setting the table for a big dinner, using brass cutlery for half the place settings and silver for the other half will catch the eye of your guests and offer an opportunity to discuss these family heirlooms.
6. Recycle and Reuse
A couple of generations ago, canning food was a common way to preserve fresh produce from the garden.
The advent of refrigerators and a global food system that allows us to purchase strawberries grown in Mexico in the dead of winter has gradually led to canning’s decline.
If you find a beautiful set of antique jam jars made from thick, colored glass graced with vintage designs and patterns, these might make a great set of drinking glasses.
Many older pieces of glass furnishings include etched artwork that look stunning when compared to some of the glassware produced today.
7. Keep Things in Sight
The golden rule for adding vintage furnishings to your home is to keep these treasures in sight. A bunch of antique cocktail glasses stored away in a bottom cupboard will most likely be neglected and seldom used.
All pieces of vintage furniture and décor should be considered cherished pieces of art and placed in areas where they can be noticed. This might entail adding more shelving in your kitchen or living room or keeping the tops of your kitchen cabinets clean so that a row of antique silver goblets can be shown to the rest of the world.
A little bit of extra work, however, will allow you to incorporate vintage décor into a modern-day home for a unique and distinctive home interior.