Sunday, March 2, 2014

Decorating with vintage pieces

Is your home decorated with vintage furnishings?  Are there cast-offs, hand-me-downs, flea market finds, yard sale purchases, thrift store scores among your possessions?  I am going to explore how vintage items are used in my own home and share a little of the story behind each piece.

All of the houses I admire have pieces of furniture that had a previous life.  There is a richness in these interiors that cannot be purchased from even my favorite retailers (Pottery Barn, One Kings Lane, and Restoration Hardware).  In fact many of the items these companies offer for sale are based largely on vintage styles.  Oftentimes, however, these reproductions are more expensive than the real things that inspired them, which you might find on perched on someone's front lawn or on advertised on Craigslist.

All the pieces of furniture we own,  aside from our bed, 2 modern grey velvet chairs, and the desk in my husband's office, were previously owned by someone else.  I started going to thrift stores and yard sales when I was in my early 20's.  At that time, I was driven by the need to furnish a home as inexpensively as possible, but I was also motivated by the pursuit owning of something of quality, something with a history, something of beauty, and something classic in design that would stand the test of time. There are items in my home that have been with me all these years.

Some pieces in my house were hand-me-downs, some were bought at yard sales, the rest came from resale shops.  There storied pieces add a sense of history to our home, giving it the feeling of one that has evolved over time.  When buying old pieces of furniture, I look for solid, all wood construction, steering clear of pieces that are constructed of particle board or are rickety.  Most of the items in my house originate from the 1920's to the 1960's.  High quality pieces can easily be made over either through refinishing or painting.  When is comes to true antiques, however, changing the finish typically lowers the value, so it is important to do your homework first before taking that step.

My bedroom is a study in mixing modern pieces with vintage ones.  The centerpiece of the room, our beloved campaign bed, is 2 years old, although it is styled after campaign furniture of the 19th century.  It is modern in the sense that it was made recently, not in terms of style.

The bed is flanked with mis-matched, vintage, side tables, both of which were purchased for $15 a piece from a yard sale.

The white and wood dresser is one I purchased in the 90's for about $15 dollars at a yard sale.  The mirror actually came with the dresser, but I haven't used them together in many years, hence it was painted grey.  Vintage mirrors are among my favorite things.  I love the look of the speckled, faded silver backing, which adds an ethereal quality to the entire room.

The white painted sideboard is a vintage piece that I currently use as my dresser.  This piece cost $100 and also has a hutch, which I haven't used in years.  It was a splurge at the time it was bought, back in the 90's.  I keep baskets inside the doors at the bottom, and that is where my clothes are stored.  Being placed near the edge of the loft, the top provides a surface for my cats to sleep and keep watch over the happenings downstairs.  The houseplants in the corner add life to the room, provide a visual buffer, and clean the air.  

The full-length mirror and grey chair next to it are both modern pieces.  The mirror represents the softer, more feminine, somewhat glamorous side of modern design.  The chair is also more modern in style, but with curving lines.

Vintage pieces can also be accessories and not just large pieces of furniture.  For example, the chandelier hanging in the window, which has also been with me since the early 90's is vintage and was made in Italy.  I have added to the crystals over the years.  It now hangs in a place where it catches the rays of early morning sunlight, casting rainbows around the room.

Incorporating vintage pieces into your decor is not only economical and environmentally-friendly, it is an avenue for creating a home that is uniquely yours, one that cannot be purchased from a catalog or home furnishings store.  If pieces are well-chosen, they may live with you for many years to come.

No matter what your style, from mid-century modern to cottage style, from coastal style to French rustic, there are vintage pieces to suit your tastes.  My style tends to lean toward cottage/coastal but is evolving, as I am quite fond of more rustic and industrial elements, which seem to suit my current home.  Some of the most personal and dynamic interiors are achieved by mixing styles and eras and by mixing vintage finds with newer pieces.  You can check out the Home Decor Resource page at One Kings Lane for more ideas and inspiration.

How do you use vintage pieces in your home?

Until next time...


1 comment:

  1. Most of my vintage items are from my family so they have much meaning. I have furniture as well as jewelry, gloves, hankies, etc from grandmothers and great grandmothers. So we mix modern with vintage and it works well for our sea cottage living style. I am always inspired by your decor knowledge and have enjoyed following your journey through several lovely homes.


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