How to give your home a vintage look

Why is the old look in?

Restoration hardware and Rachel Ashwell helped to usher in the age of acceptable imperfection in interior design. By embracing the individuality and character that that comes from aging (or from being made to look old), they made it okay to show flaws. That mindset makes it easier to relax and eliminates the pressure to maintain unrealistic perfection. That's a big reason why these weather-worn, deconstructed and industrial collections have become so popular - people already have enough to worry about.

What vintage style are you going for?

Before you invest any money or time into redecorating, it's important for you to determine the type of old time look you want to achieve. Are you enamored with British Colonial or mid-century modern designs? Or maybe you're drawn to a more rustic aesthetic like French country or machine age.

Whatever the case may be, you also need to take the architecture of your home into consideration. If you have a coastal or cottage looking space, you might want to reinforce that with airy timeworn shabby chic furniture. Conversely, if your room or apartment has exposed ducts and brick walls, something a bit more industrial might be in line.

Buying retro furniture and lighting reproductions

The nice thing about updating your home decor is that you don't have to do it all at once or do a complete overhaul. In fact, transitioning your interior piecemeal is a great way to ensure that you create an eclectic, yet cohesive, look. Buying too many pieces of furniture or lighting from the same manufacturer in the same season is a recipe for disaster. Like Edward Norton's Pottery Barn obsession in "Fight Club," it can be tempting to get everything to match, but that defeats the whole idea of being imperfect and relaxed.

Fortunately, there are many brands that make high quality industrial and shabby chic style furnishings. Their gorgeous replicas and vintage inspired tables, chairs, lamps and lighting fixtures are eye-catching. You don't need many pieces to transform a bland environment into something memorable.

Do it yourself weathering and antiquing

If you're on a tight budget, you can still update your home's interior design. Refurbish your old furniture to look new...I mean older, but in a new way. You know what I'm saying, right? Use chalk paint and stencils, or layer multiple colors and sand them to give your furniture that timeworn appeal. Change out modern drawer pulls and door knobs for vintage ones. You can even give your mirrors a stylish antique look, if you're careful. There are plenty of cheap DIY ways to enhance your home's appearance if you just do a little online research.

Nostalgic accents

Sometimes, redecorating is as easy as changing a light bulb - literally. Swap out your commonplace bulb for a clear Edison bulb with the glowing orange filaments. Here's another great idea - drawer pulls and lamp shades. You can swap out real antique knobs and pulls or replicas for your current ones and your drawers take on a completely different look. The same principle works for lamps. Add the right vintage looking lampshade and your table or floor lamp quickly turns into a blast from the past. One more nice thing about a slow makeover is that you get the opportunity to stumble upon great finds in the most out of the way places. Flea markets, garage sales and hole in the wall boutiques are gold mines for unexpected treasures. Old metal signs, ornate picture frames, classic movie posters, weathered pottery and even oxidized iron gears, coils and pulleys make unique accents. So, use your creativity and experiment. A vintage look is all about time and there's no rush.

Image credits

  1. Go Home
  2. Aidan Gray
  3. Four Hands
  4. Eloquence
  5. Public Domain

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