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Making Vintage Modern

23 November 2021

Everything old is new again. From wardrobes to interior decor, vintage is the latest design trend making the rounds. Some people like to recreate a particular era while others love collecting and displaying their eccentric collection. Maybe you’re just looking for ways to incorporate a few vintage pieces in your thoroughly modern/minimalist home. Whether you have one vintage piece or several, they can pair very well with modern decor.

Why is vintage popular again?

There are so many reasons for the resurgence of vintage or antique decor items. Vintage pieces add character and old-world charm to any room. They can make your home look unique and make it stand apart from others. 

Larger vintage pieces are also great conversation starters, especially when you display them in the living room or kitchen. Many vintage items have a story behind them – whether it’s how they were made or how you acquired them.

A bonus for environmentally conscious homeowners is that vintage is sustainable. You’re re-using pieces that would otherwise end up in a landfill somewhere. It’s also one less item that you’re buying from a store. 

What makes something vintage?


Many people use vintage and antique interchangeably and it can get confusing. But these labels actually mean something when it comes to furniture and home decor. So what makes something vintage or antique?

Antique refers to pieces that are more than 100 years old. These are items that are definitively dated and often expensive to purchase. Most homes use antiques as accent pieces or decor (think antique oil paintings or an heirloom mirror) rather than everyday furniture like a couch.

Vintage does not directly refer to the age of an item, although pieces newer than 40 years are not referred to as vintage. The word actually means that the piece represents the time or design of a particular period. It should be representational and identifiable as a period piece. So you might have a vintage 1950s car or inherit a vintage 1960s bed frame.

You can find vintage pieces in thrift stores, yard sales, and other places that resell salvaged items. These items may be damaged, meaning you have to fix them yourself, have them reupholstered or repainted carefully. 

How to mix vintage pieces with modern decor


Pair them with neutrals

Vintage pieces develop a patina over time and you can use the timeworn look to add some warmth to any space. To highlight the age, pair vintage items with whites or other neutrals. You can also match rough or scratched pieces with solid hues and brighter shades. 

Combine dark wood pieces with soft textures

What many vintage furniture pieces have in common are the use of dark woods and ornate details. Highlight those features and balance them by using soft textures like cushions, rugs, and pillows. If your vintage table has straight lines, use curvy items such as a round mirror to create contrast. 

Intricate and ornate details can also look good against a modern or even mid-century room. Combine the straight lines of a mid-century table with a heavily detailed vintage bar stool for a unique look. A vintage side table and a lamp can work really well with a minimalist couch and accent chairs.

Unify different styles with a color scheme

A quick and easy way to unify differing styles (not just vintage and modern) is to use a cohesive color palette. Pick a dominant color from your vintage pieces and try to use items from the same color family or a different shade around it. You can even repaint items to match, especially if they’re made of metal. 

What if you have an unusual color like a dusky rose or gold? No one wants a gold couch or rose coffee table! Try adding some throw pillows to the couch in the same shade or bring in a rug that uses the color. 

Display items in groups

If you want to mix several styles together, the easiest way is to group similar items. This works really well for smaller decor items like vases, picture frames, cup holders, travel knick-knacks, and even small paintings. Dedicate a shelf, mantle, fireplace, or the top of a bookcase to show off your collection. 

Make a statement with one or two pieces


Instead of trying to hide your vintage piece or blending it into a modern environment, use it to attract attention. Make it a conversation piece and highlight what makes it special. It’s a great idea for heirloom pieces or if the item has a unique history. So that chandelier you found quite accidentally on vacation or the mid-century Danish porcelain that was handed down from your grandmother? They make excellent statement pieces.

Whether you are trying to decorate an older home and want to preserve the aesthetic or just add a few trendy touches here and there, use these tips to mix in vintage with modern home decor.

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