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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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Kitchen Design Mistakes You May be Making

Kitchens are the heart of any home. You will likely spend plenty of time in your kitchen, preparing meals and even eating. During get-togethers you may find your friends and family gravitating towards your kitchen. If you’ve checked out these kitchen tours or have looked at beautiful kitchens in magazines, you may want a gorgeous space for cooking at your house.

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Kitchens, can be tricky, though. There are many design mistakes common in this room:

Not putting practicality first

Your kitchen is the hardest-working room in the house. Of course, you want it to look great – but you also need it to function smoothly. When considering how well your kitchen works or when thinking about how to remodel the space, list the three dishes you make most often and the steps needed for each dish. How easily can you make the dishes in your kitchen now? How easily could you make these dishes in the kitchen remodel you are considering?

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Over-design

If you are daydreaming over home fashion magazines and catalogs of gourmet designs, you may be thinking about cute and trendy appliances, counters, and kitchens. While these can be fun to look at, they are not usually very practical. You want a kitchen that can stand the test of time, and that means erring on the side of classic designs.

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Ignoring the three most important kitchen areas

The three most important area in the kitchen are the sink, the stove area, and the refrigerator. Not only should you make sure that these areas are highly functional, but they should also be easily accessible and close enough together that moving back and forth between these areas is simple. These three areas are so important that they are sometimes called “The Golden Triangle.” To find out more, check out this great BBC article.

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Too little counter space

You need a lot of counter space for food prep, cutting, and preparing meals. This is especially the case if there is more than one person preparing meals and cooking in your kitchen. If your kitchen is too small for lots of counter space, you may want to invest in a fold-away or pull-out butcher block or a kitchen cart that offers storage space underneath and a cutting space on top.

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An island that gets in the way

An island seems like a good idea because it allows you to add storage and food prep areas in the center of a larger kitchen. But it can quickly get in the way if you keep crashing into the island or if people sitting and eating at the island get in the way of you getting to your counter area. One solution is to put a stove and sink area in your island area so that you can get prep work and cooking done right in the middle of your kitchen. Another option is to forego the island and instead use a kitchen cart that can easily be wheeled again.

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Too little storage space

Kitchens can’t have enough storage space. You need a spot to store food, pots, pans, cutlery, and gadgets. If you have a tiny kitchen, you will need to get creative about storage space. Start by making sure that you are using all your space – including the space near the ceiling. Use organization racks and plastic tubs to keep things organized in drawers and cupboards so that you can fit more in. If you have the room, you can also buy a tall pantry cupboard for your kitchen area.

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Bad air circulation and waste solutions

Kitchens can get stinky fast and they can also overheat easily if you cook or bake a lot. Install a vent above your stove so that you can take care of food odors and open your kitchen window often to air out the room. Keep a smaller waste container in the kitchen so that you take out the trash more often and prevent odors. Scented candles in the kitchen and a strict cleaning schedule can also ensure that your kitchen smells great.

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Dim lighting

You need to see what you are doing in order to whip up great meals for you and your friends. Kitchens need more lighting than most rooms. You will want bright overhead lights as well as track and task lighting to light up your counter, stove, and other food prep areas. Under-the-cabinet lights work well in the kitchen and don’t take up much room.

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Cabinets with space on top

It’s a terrible waste of space and just attracts dust (in a spot where you can’t reach easily). Make sure that your cupboards go right up the ceiling or at least don’t have that do-nothing space on top. You can place less-used items in these areas.

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Boring design

Just because your kitchen is hard-working, that doesn’t mean it can’t be gorgeous. If you add cute or trendy items, though, make sure that they are something that you can live with for a while since remodeling a kitchen is usually costly. Or, do the smarter thing and add a little spice with fun and colorful accessories that can be changed up. A fun wine rack, for example, or a new set of bar stools won’t cost much but can add a little fun to the area.

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Too many gourmet appliances

It’s easy to watch cooking shows and get over-enthusiastic about all the appliances and little gadgets that TV chefs have. Just remember that it is TV: it is meant to sell you things and is meant to be glamorous. Your own kitchen doesn’t need those things. Worse, if you fill your home kitchen with lots of appliances and items it will be harder for you to find room for it all.

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Overspending

If you want to make any changes in your kitchen, it’s important to compare prices and to work with a strict budget. This is one renovation where price can get away from you.

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Have you been making any of these mistakes in your kitchen? Now’s the time to re-do, re-think, and re-imagine your space so that you’ll enjoy spending time in this room rather than reaching for take-out menus every night.

Stylish Hardware Fixes for Your Home

On this blog, we’ve mentioned a few times that even apartment-dwellers can easily transform their rented homes with new hardware. Hardware is truly amazing because it makes such a difference, but is easy and inexpensive to change. If you’ve never experimented with this design idea before, consider:

Knobs and pulls

Knobs and pulls are amazingly versatile and can transform just about anything. Consider changing the knobs and pulls on:

  • Dressers
  • Cupboards
  • Nightstands
  • Pots and dutch ovens
  • Doors

They can instantly transform your space. Look for unique hardware at second-hand stores, yard sales, and at your local hardware store. You can even make your own pulls and knobs. This blog post has some great ideas for DIY pulls. Another blogger here has some additional fun ideas.

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Another idea with pulls and knobs is to put them at the end of painted wooden poles to create your own curtain rods for a fraction of the cost. Just buy simple wooden rods, metal rods, or even electrical conduits at your local hardware store and choose two matching pull knobs. You can just screw the knobs in. You can paint the rods or leave them as is. The whole project costs less than $10 in most cases.

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If you have extra door knobs, you can use them inside your closet to hang accessories and ties. Or, screw them next to your window for an attractive curtain holder. Be sure to check out this blog for more unique projects.

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Switch plates

Switch plates and outlet covers are usually not very inspiring, but you can easily transform them into something special by adding some decorative switch plates. Oddee.com even has a guide here on making your own customized versions. If you can’t find great switch plates and don’t want to make your own, another idea is to place a frame around electrical outlets and light switches — even around thermostats. This will instantly add some style with very little effort.

Door handles and locks

Door handles and locks do more than just keep unwanted guests out. They can also look amazing. Swap out the door locks and handles on your door for a whole new look. Check out this website for beautiful door handle ideas. While you are making over your door, consider adding a whimsical door knocker (even on interior doors), beautiful street numbers, or even your monogram.

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Hinges

These days, it seems as though most people think that door hinges should be functional and invisible, but there are actually a range of decorative hinges and strap hinges that look great on wardrobes, closets, doors, and cupboards. Look for rustic designs for your pantry door and dramatic gothic designs for wood doors. Check out this Pinterest page to see the amazing things you can do with a few hinges.

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Hardware may seem to be one of the least interesting design elements, but it can really be one of the most exciting. Inexpensive and easy to buy, hardware can make a big difference in your home – even if you aren’t handy or don’t have time for big makeover projects.

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Décor Hacks to Transform Your Home

You don’t have to be a genius (or a trust fund baby) to make your home gorgeous. A few simple hacks can take your home’s interior from ho-hum to dazzling:

Never throw anything away without careful consideration.

It’s amazing what you can do in your home with a few items you were about to throw out. That old coffee table can be transformed into a TV table, ottoman, or shelving. There is even a tutorial online on how to transform plastic spoons into a decorative wreath (really – you can see it here). Something as modest as some cardboard can be transformed into something functional, such as a vanity (instructions here) or a room divider (visit this page for how-tos).

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If you are looking around your home and thinking that you need all new furniture, really consider before tossing anything out. You can often get a hip new look simply by repainting something you have or transforming it. If you would like some cool ideas on transforming what you own into unique décor items, check out this Pinterest page.

Invest in crown molding from your local hardware store.

It is truly amazing what some simple — and inexpensive — crown molding can do:

  • Attach it to your walls for one-of-a-kind frames
  • Add texture to walls by applying layers of it over your walls
  • Affix it to the top of bookcases and paint it to match your shelves to create a more upscale bookcase
  • Create the look of built-in bookshelves by placing several tall bookshelves side by side and applying crown molding along the edges where the bookshelves meet – you’ll get the look of one built-in wall unit if you paint the entire structure
  • Add some interest to your ceiling space by attaching dramatic crown molding in a contrasting color near the ceiling
  • Transform a chest of drawers by sticking strips of crown molding to the drawers, painting the whole piece, and adding funky hardware

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Buy wallpaper, fabrics, and paints you love in bulk.

You can transform just about any home with these three items. Use the paint to update walls, kitchen cabinets, furniture, and even floors. For some incredible decoration makeovers with paint, check out this Pinterest page.

Wallpaper is another interior design secret. It’s really not just for walls. The cool patterns mean that it can transform just about anything in your house, from old hatboxes and vases to old pieces of furniture and even doors. Try wallpapering just one wall or the insides of your bookcases for a fun look. If you live in an apartment, you can even make your own temporary wallpaper from fabric and starch (find the instructions here).

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Fabrics are another thing you will want to stock up on. You can use them to create your own curtains, bed coverings, throws, and more. Even if you can’t sew, you can use gorgeous fabrics to reupholster existing furniture. If you live in an apartment or just don’t want to bother with wallpaper or paint, you can also transform drab walls by hanging large pieces of fabric over them. If you live in a rented space, simply use tension rods to keep the fabric in place.

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With a little padding and some fabric, you can also transform just about anything into a cute seating area. For example, turn a shelving unit on its side, add padding and fabric to the top, and you have a cute bench or window seat. A stepstool or even a block of wood can become an ottoman with padding and some fabric.

Steal ideas from expensive stores and magazines and create your own.

One of the best hacks out there is simple: find a cute or trendy item that costs an arm and a leg and create your own version for a fraction of the price. This site can show you how.

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Buy inexpensive blank canvases and use them to cover up anything you don’t like.

Buy blank canvases at your local art store and paint them yourself if you are artsy. If not, use stencils, fabric, wallpaper, or your photos on the canvas to create your work of art. Then, use your art pieces to cover up cracks in the walls, unsightly air conditioners, exposed pipes, or anything else that you hate but don’t have time to fix right away.

Try a few DIY decor projects this weekend — a few supplies may be all you need to makeover your apartment or house.

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Moving is a Chance to Revamp Your Style

Moving is no-one’s idea of fun. Unless you are fortunate enough to get movers who can pack, move, and unpack for you, you are probably going to be living with boxes and a bit of frustration during your move. The one silver lining? A move is the perfect time to revamp your style and create that home you have always dreamed of.

Before you Move

When relocating, you are effectively paying for every item you own. If you are hiring movers, you will generally pay per pound as well as per meters in distance. If you are moving yourself, you will need a larger, more expensive truck if you have more stuff. The solution? Get rid of everything you don’t love or really need. Likely ideas for pruning include:

  • Things you haven’t used in more than a year
  • Things you received as gifts but don’t really like
  • Any piece of décor and furniture that you don’t love or need
  • Any décor or furniture item you have outgrown
  • Any item that won’t fit in your new home
  • Any items that will be too difficult to move

If you are having trouble getting rid of things, read this blog post about de-cluttering or check out the MSN post here about cleaning up before a move. Keep in mind, though, that everything you get rid of you may need to replace at your new apartment. Really consider what you need – it’s probably less than you think. You will generally need (to start):

  • A few pots and pans and kitchenware
  • A few utensils and plates
  • A bed
  • Clothes hangers and a place to put your clothes
  • Your computer and some electronics
  • A place to sit and eat

Some of these things you can buy when you arrive in your new home. Keep in mind, too, that you can break up sets. If you love your dining room chairs but don’t love the table, keep the chairs and sell the table. You can pick up something nicer when you are moved in.

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Keep Things Organized

Staying organized is easier than you think – even if you are living out of a suitcase for a few days until you unpack. You will need a binder or folder with several tabs and pockets. Inside, you will want to keep everything related to your move, including:

  • Photos of your new and old homes, with measurements of each room, door, and window
  • Ideas for decorating your new home
  • Contact information for your real estate agent, utility companies, movers, and anyone else you may need to contact
  • Swatches of upholstery and paint samples for your new apartment or house
  • A list of places where you can buy furniture, housewares, and anything else you may need
  • Lists of things to buy, things to do, and things to bring when you move
  • Receipts
  • A tape measure and a calculator

Bring this information with you whenever you are running errands. Whether you are buying new furniture or trying to arrange a move, this information will be handy and will ensure you don’t get a couch that doesn’t fit in your door or end up buying paint that clashes with your floor. Check out this post to see how one blogger organized a move.

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After Your Move

Once the move is over, it’s time to start setting up your new apartment or house. If you have moved from a larger space to a small studio apartment, the main adjustment will be to reduce what you own and to buy furniture that fits the scale of your new space. Even if the space size is the same, however, your new home may have a different style or you may be moving into a different lifestyle as well as a new place.

Take some time to get familiar with your home. The impulse is to run out and buy everything you need right away, but it makes sense to set up what you have and to start creating lists of what you might want to furnish your home. Compare prices on items and consider spending some time just living in your new, barer space until you find something that really appeals to you. If you need a kitchen table, for example, consider hunting around for one that really suits you and suits the apartment rather than buying the first pre-fab set you see. Yes, you may need to eat at your kitchen counter or on the sofa for a few days, but it will be worth it to get the best price on something that will bring you pleasure.

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Remember: a move is a chance to start over, and that means making new style and home choices. This is your chance to buy something you really like, not something that just happens to be convenient or on sale. Take your time and make choices you are excited about.

Making New Style Choices Fit Your Space

Once you have the basic furniture you need, you will want to make your apartment or house your own. Adding plants, art, and other decorative choices is ideal, but think carefully before just transferring the pieces you have now to your new space. One of the big challenges with relocating is that your new space will likely have a different style. You may be used to a modern apartment and your new house may be a historic property with high ceilings and original molding. Or, you may be moving from a historic walk-up to an ultra-modern condo. In either case, it is important to adjust your style slightly so that it complements the space. If you are looking at the blank canvas of your new apartment and just feel confused, check out the interior design tips at this Southern Comfort post and this HGTV article.

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As you set up your new space, keep in mind that this can be a great style adventure. Start paying attention to home styles and furniture options. You may find new ideas and styles that really appeal to you and help you create that perfect dream space you have always wanted.