The term vintage was once reserved for flea-market finds and your Granny’s tea set. In recent years not only has the popularity of vintage changed, so has its definition. It once meant pre-loved/old. Now vintage style includes eclectic and handmade items, a one-off or even a new (!) chair which has simply received a coat of paint, and then been roughed up to look like it hasn’t been painted since the ‘Great War’.
Whether you want to decorate with authentic or vintage inspired elements — as with any interior design scheme — you should avoid decorating entirely in the style of one decade, or you will end up creating a dated homage to the past. Instead, mix and match vintage finds with modern designs for a vintage inspired contemporary look and a juxtaposition of styles that doesn’t look like you went mad at a flea-market.
What to buy
If you opt to buy smaller items, such as side tables and lamps, these are easy to swap out should you get tired of the style and want to update the look. Avoid mixing too many patterns and colours or you’ll risk falling into the realms of kitsch. If you want to add interest, mix textures in similar hues and layer bold pillows, throws and soft furnishings, rather than nic nacs.
Be brave with colour and design, but keep some uniformity — it should still make sense. This dining room is fun, bold and the right side of kitsch (just about).
Larger items such as dining tables and sofas are best bought new as it’s hard to find suites and larger items in good condition. Keeping the pieces of furniture simple will create a more contemporary and adaptable look.
Combine old and new
It doesn’t have to be as clear cut as old and new objects/furnishings sat alongside one another — you can combine both looks for a seamless concept. A modern throw on a vintage chair or a modern lampshade on an old lamp-stand can help blend the look.
When mixing styles it’s important to remember that there needs to be a unified theme that ties them together. This is often referred to as eclectic, meaning the mix of heterogeneous styles, textures and colours, which without a common theme can look chaotic.
This room (astonishingly) mixes floral and stripy wallpaper with antique chairs and an IKEA bookshelf, in a mish-mash of colours. Eclectic decor gone wrong? I’d say so.
Decorating in a mixture of styles makes it easier for the room to evolve as tastes change and new trends emerge. It allows you to more easily add or remove elements, without needing to re-decorate from scratch. Everyone has the odd family heirloom that they can’t put on display because it doesn’t match their decor — mix and match old with new throughout and there’s no reason not to keep those family treasures in pride of place.