Decorating Your Home in Vintage: How to Make it Work

Vintage home décor is very popular right now, but it can be a tricky look to pull off. For one thing, it can be hard to find true vintage pieces or even vintage-inspired pieces for every room in your home. Too much vintage in the wrong combinations can also just make it appear that your home hasn’t been updated since the 1950s – not exactly the chic look you’re trying to achieve. Here’s how to get it right:

Stay within one style

It can seem like a cute idea to have a 1950s room, a 1970s room and a 1960s kitchen, but going overboard can just make a space look overwhelming and overdone. To find out what style suits you best, check out what vintage pieces you already have – what era do they represent? Do you have a collection from a specific era? That can be a great place to start.

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Don’t get too attached to just vintage – mix and match with modern pieces

Decorating entirely with vintage items can easily look overdone. You sometimes do see someone so dedicated to a particular style and they manage to get it right, but it’s a huge undertaking, and these people usually end up on reality TV – probably not your ambition for your house or apartment. Look for simple, modern furnishings in neutral colors to showcase your vintage finds. They will actually highlight them and make them stand out.

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Stick with modern lines and aesthetics

One of the downsides of vintage style (and one reason why we’re not still decorating with wall-to-wall shag rugs and orange carpets) is because they can be heavy and just too much. When you pick your vintage style, be sure to check out some not-so-attractive examples of that aesthetic so that you can see where it can all go wrong. A 1950s room, for example, can easily start to look like a dollhouse with too many soft colors and lines. A 1970s home can look too heavy and dark.

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To avoid these problems, it’s best to stick with modern ideas. Look for ways to keep your home uncluttered, bright, and unfussy as a modern home. If you’re embracing a 1980s look, for example, try some bright colors and pop art but stick with a few pieces rather than too much bubblegum culture. If you love a 1970s look, try a shaggy throw rug in a soft fabric and muted color rather than a full carpet. Soften the colors a bit and keep the lighting brighter to keep things from feeling too heavy.

Invest in vintage technology and gadgets

One of the coolest things about decorating in a vintage style is that you can play around with items that are no longer being sold in your local store. An LP player, vinyl records, or fridge with an old-fashioned handle are all great throwbacks that add style to your home and give your space that vintage vibe. Look for pieces that actually work, so you don’t have something taking up space without earning its keep.

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Pay attention to color

In addition to sticking with one general style, try to stick with one color scheme, too. You can try the softer pastels popular in the 1950s or the earth tones of the 1970s or the bright punchy colors of the 1960s, but mix them all together at your own peril.

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One of the biggest delights about vintage décor is that you can play around with colors that just aren’t used anymore. Whether that’s the deep win reds and midnight blues of the 1940s or the bright pop colors of the 1960s, it can be fun to play with a palette that’s a little more unique than what you find in most homes.

Don’t just buy anything from your specific style

Learn to be choosy. One of the problems with declaring your love for anything in the 1960s, for example, is that friends and family will start showing up with cast-offs from that era that they dug up in Aunt Edna’s attic. And you might find yourself picking up that cute white (but broken) princess phone just because “it’s very 1980s.”

Don’t.

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When choosing items for your new look, make sure you ask yourself:

  • Will I actually use this or do I love it so much that I can’t live without it?
  • Is it in good shape?
  • Is it safe (keep in mind that older items may not meet current electrical standards or may be too worn to be safe)?
  • If it needs repairs, will I complete the repairs right away or do I already have a bunch of things in my home that need work?
  • Does it really fit with my color and style palette?
  • Does it have a specific space in my home where I can imagine it? (if not, put it back)

If you’re not a little picky, your home may end up looking more like an attic or garage sale rather than a stylish space, so really think before bringing something into your home.

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Look for pieces outside the Box

It’s easy to find upcycled vintage furniture and décor pieces in trend boutiques, but for a really unique look (and one that’s much easier on the budget) it makes sense to check out estate sales, classified ads, flea markets and other places for items you can restore, repaint, and repurpose. Check out this blog post to see some ideas for refurbishing vintage items and making them look great.

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Experiment just a little bit

Keep in mind that you don’t have to redo your entire home. You can start with a cluster of vinyl on the walls or a few appliances and go from there. You don’t have to embrace all vintage. A modern house with a collection or two of vintage treasures can be a great solution.

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Whether you want to go 60s, 70s, 40s, or something in between, vintage style can give your home a unique twist that you can’t pick out of a catalog. For inspiration, check out this blog post or this blog post; both are full of great ideas.

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