Incorporating vintage pieces into your home can seem intimidating, but once you begin weaving these time-tested treasures into your décor, you’ll be hooked.
I remember the first time my mom took me shopping at an antique store. I felt so at home among all of the patina and rust. That day, I fell in love with old things, and I knew I would have vintage pieces in my home someday.
Fast forward thirty years, and I’d rather be in an antique store than pretty much anywhere else; that’s how much I love the hunt, the character, and the silent story each piece tells. But, incorporating my love of vintage into the early 2000’s tract homes I’ve owned here in Southern California has been trickier to pull off than I anticipated. After a lot of trial and error over the years, I’ve finally figured out the right balance for our home that keeps it feeling fresh, yet collected at the same time. There really is an art to it, and I’m thrilled to be sharing my process with you. It is my favorite subject after all.
Click through to learn how you can master the mix of old and new by incorporating vintage pieces into any room.
Vintage End Table
Adding a vintage end table is an easy way to add character without breaking the bank, as some older pieces tend to do. I found this barley twist table in an antique store for $100. It was buried underneath a pile of found objects, and I might never have seen it had I not been searching for a piece of furniture.
I incorporated this vintage end table into both our rental home (pictured below) and our current home. It sits next to a more modern sofa and looks right at home. The reason it works is because it’s not competing with a detailed piece of furniture. Rather, it balances out the clean lines of the sofa with it’s carved legs and patinaed depth.
Tip: When hunting for vintage, it’s important to pay attention to the pieces holding the other pieces because you may just find buried treasure.
Vintage Chest of Drawers
This chest of drawers in our hallway will go down as my favorite and best vintage find of all time. When we moved into this home, I knew I wanted an old piece of furniture at the end of this hallway, which is right off our master bedroom. I was patient and waited for the right piece to come along, and boy did it ever. You know you’ve made a good investment when day after day, a piece brings you joy and looks good in every light. This is that piece. And honestly, at $250, it wasn’t a huge investment, especially given the fact that it’s not only gorgeous, but functional too. I use those big drawers to store extra décor, fabric samples, and odds and ends.
Again, the key to this piece working so well here is the mix of old and new. The old, beautifully patinaed chest mixed with a modern piece of art (artist: Justyn Chapman) is a classic combination that can’t go wrong. You could even flip the combo and hang a vintage piece of art over a modern chest of drawers for the same effect.
Tip: When looking for a bigger piece of furniture for a spot like this, try to find something with working drawers or doors that can serve two purposes…looking spectacular and storing your stuff.
Vintage Wall Décor
If you’re not ready to invest in vintage or antique pieces, or you’re not confident you can incorporate vintage pieces into your home, try getting your feet wet with wall décor. In our master bedroom, I have three vintage baskets over our bed. The largest one is actually an antique (read: very old) fishing basket from Monterey. It holds my heart because it was a gift from Jeff after he saw me fall in love with it while antiquing in my favorite place…Monterey. The other two are just old and beautiful pieces I like to display.
We also have vintage art hanging in a little spot in our master bedroom. It’s subtle but interesting, and adds a layer of depth that new art doesn’t have. I’ve also used vintage sun hats and Asian paper umbrellas as wall art. The point is hanging something up that has a story and some visual depth.
Tip: When using vintage wall décor, try to let the pieces stand alone on the wall or group several of the same type of item together for more visual impact. Don’t try to create a gallery wall of vintage tchotchkes. Just let the old things tell their story without having to compete.
Art is an easy, non-committal way to incorporate vintage into any room. You could add vintage art to a bedroom, entryway (see my full entryway here), bathroom, kitchen, dining room, on a mantel, or any other space in your home. It’s easy to find on Etsy or in thrift and antique stores (I’m not talking about the printable variety), and you can use it to ease yourself into having more vintage in your house. Whether you hang it, lean it, or layer it, vintage art is a wonderful addition to any style of home.
Tip: When hunting for vintage art, look on the back for old paper backing or old wood if it’s a canvas. This will indicate whether it’s truly old or just made to look old.
Our collected staircase gallery wall includes an antique (over 100 years old) oil painting sitting pretty next to art that is not old in any way, proving once again that old and new can and should exist together.
Vintage Bedroom Furniture
One of my very favorite places to incorporate vintage pieces is in bedrooms. Hannah’s nightstands are vintage Chippendale bamboo end tables I found on Facebook Marketplace, and they add so much character to an otherwise brand new space. I painted them with Fusion Mineral paint and gave them a whole new life in her bedroom. In Noelle’s room, I’m adding a vintage desk, and in both girls’ bedrooms, I’ve used vintage dressers. I also love adding vintage lamps and plaid throws. I love it all. But I don’t love it all together…again, I need a balance of old and new, rusty and refined.
Tip: A vintage dresser is always a safe bet. They have the BEST lines, details, and usually hardware unlike anything you can find today. Give it a new coat of paint and you’re golden. Also, vintage desks make excellent bedside tables that double in usage.
Even if you have no vintage furniture or wall décor, you can still add a touch of times gone by through vintage textiles. This block ottoman is upholstered in vintage kilim, and the two striped pillows are made from vintage Turkish fabric. These types of items are easily accessible through Etsy and are, once again, not too committal if you just want to try on vintage in your home. You can even purchase a vintage textile and have an ottoman or pillows made to your taste.
Vintage textiles can be used in bedrooms as well. I love the use of vintage blankets on the end of a bed and a long lumbar made from a vintage rug for a touch of drama.
Tip: Study images from designers like Amber Lewis and Heidi Caillier to see how the experts use vintage textiles in every room. Then, search Etsy for everything from vintage kilim and oriental rugs to fabrics to bed linens. When incorporating vintage textiles, Etsy is your best friend.
I hope this post helped you see the value of incorporating vintage pieces into your home and shed some light on the process of mixing old and new in any room. I think it’s pretty evident I love this process , but I want to reassure you, it has taken me some time to perfect it. So, if you’re just starting out, give yourself grace and keep trying different vintage pieces until you are happy with your mix.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Do you love incorporating vintage pieces into your home or are you still intimidated by it? Let’s talk!
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Sherry Clancy says
Hi, this is my first time seeing your blog and I love your style. I was interested where I can find the bamboo shades in the first picture. They are so pretty and wood love to have them in my livingbroom. I also have a question. You mentioned that you painted some old nightstands. I thought that it was not a good idea to paint over old wood.
Thank you so much!
Hi Sherry…thanks so much for reading this post. Bamboo shades are from Lowe’s (Tatami color) and yes, generally speaking, I don’t love to paint over old wood, but the nightstands I painted were a yellow laminate type material…not wood.
I love your style . So inviting. I love old baskets .
Thank you so much!
Lara Hubner says
Really enjoying your blog… Love your eclectic yet clean style – beautiful. I have recently started a blog of my own and your site has been inspirational. Thank you!
Thank you so much Lara! I’m so glad you’re enjoying the blog, and I’m appreciative that you’re a reader. Have fun blogging!
So pretty! Lots of good “food for thought.”
Thank you so much for stopping by and reading the blog!
I’m a fellow blogger and just came across your blog! Love it and your style so much!
Well hello! Nice to “meet” you. I’ll have to go check out your blog. Thanks so much for stopping by and saying hi!
The Mr. and I are both lovers of antiques. Most of our upholstered pieces are new, but our wood pieces are 95% antique. I love the patina of old wood. Like you, I love old dressers and the storage they provide, along with the beauty.
I so enjoy seeing your home.
That’s awesome! You really can’t compare new things to the character and patina of antiques and vintage. Thanks for reading and commenting!
This is terrific advice on incorporating antique or vintage items in home design. I love to do this as well, but don’t have the access to antique stores. Your blog is inspiration and educational! Thank you.
Thank you so much Teri! I’m so glad you enjoy the blog 😉