Get the Look: vintage decor

When people speak of vintage, they are often referring to the period around the 1940s and 1950s, but it seems there really is no limit to what ‘old’ items can be used to decorate the home and still be classed as vintage.  

The vintage colour palette

Pastels are often the main colour theme of the vintage palette. They include pale pinks, mint or sage greens, weak yellows and baby blues. During the 50s, colour palettes also had a Scandinavian influence, which took its inspiration from nature and included greys and browns, lilacs and creams. The key is to use these colours in contrasting, yet complimentary, ways.

 photo courtesy of Simon Whitmore, featured in Style Your Modern Vintage Home, by Kate Beavis, David & Charles publishers

The texture of vintage

Vintage has many textures; in fact it is the layered use of textures that really defines the vintage style. Good fabrics for achieving a vintage look include damask and lace, gingham and cotton. Leather suits any style, but patterned fabrics tend to set a particular period. For vintage, think subtle or even bold, checkered, fleur de lys motifs and flowery lace embroidery. Accessorise using glass bottles or jars, wooden chests and caskets and painted metal tins and containers.   When it comes to furniture, vintage really calls for either wood or metal. If decorating a bedroom, therefore, the best choice is wooden furniture painted white; ideally distressed to show bits of the wood underneath. Essential items for a vintage bedroom include, naturally, an impressive bedstead, a wardrobe, chest of drawers and a dressing table, all of which are readily available from here. A vintage kitchen would require a good sized table to work and eat at, a dresser to display a haphazard array of crockery and utensils and ideally, a comfy chair, such as a rocking chair to relax in.

 photo courtesy of Simon Whitmore, featured in Style Your Modern Vintage Home, by Kate Beavis, David & Charles publishers

 Of course, there is no reason why a room should be filled with just one type of furniture. For example, try mixing a wooden dresser with a black painted metal dining table or in the bedroom, mix a metal bedstead with wooden bedside tables.

Up-cycling

Often, the home’s existing furniture can be adapted to suit a whole new style. As an example, take a dark coloured piece of furniture, such as a table. This can be sanded down and repainted in white to be suddenly transformed. Upholstered chairs can be fitted with a new pattern fabric for a whole new look. A decorating idea, which can make factory manufactured furniture look unique, is to take prettily patterned wrapping paper or wallpaper and paste it to the back of bookshelves or to the front of the drawers on a chest. Alternatively, hang flower patterned fabric across the front of a bookcase in place of doors. For those who have an artistic talent, consider painting flowers or other patterns across furniture, such as the headboard of a bed or a garland of flowers across a wardrobe. For a truly quirky, if labour-intensive, project, paint a piano white and then add lace to the surface, to create an originally textured musical instrument.

retro wallpaper

Contributed by Charlotte Stafford

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