How to use antiques and vintage pieces to update your home |
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How to use antiques and vintage pieces to update your home

by Jillian CariolaPublished: August 23, 2017Updated: August 31, 2017

Keep up with the times with these tips on decorating with antique and vintage pieces

Over the past few years, there has been a rise in decorating trends that lean toward more traditional aesthetics. Many are finding themselves eschewing what is stylistically modern and favoring a more vintage look, so much so that the latter has ironically become what’s currently in. This year’s fashionistas have raided their parents’ closets to bring back ’80s glam, hipsters have reached even further back with portable turntables. In interior design, antiques are what’s called for.

The truth is, antique pieces have always been part of any home’s interior design. Whether it be an inheritance, a gift, or a piece you found at a yard sale, heirlooms add a certain charm to your dwelling. Aside from bearing a classic look that no contemporary version can beat, their back stories make for interesting conversation. There is a danger, though, that displaying them improperly might make your home look aged, so be sure to take these best practices on perfectly blending your inherited pieces into your home’s overall look.

Mix the old with the new

When you put too many antique pieces in one place, there is the danger of turning that room into a museum. Unless that is what you are trying to accomplish, the best way to avoid this is to display relics with modern pieces. If you have a decades-old oversized jar, set it next to a contemporary loveseat. Hang a piece of modern art above an aged console table.

How to decorate a home using antiques and vintage pieces MyProperty Philippines camera office table
A vintage camera blends with the otherwise contemporary home office design. Photo via Depositphotos

Revive worn items

Antiques obviously do sustain wear and tear especially after changing hands multiple times over the years, but if it is made well structurally, often the damage would just be superficial. If this is the case, minor repairs are all they might need to bring them back to shape. A faded wooden oak or narra dining table can be refreshed with a new coat of varnish. Repainting a worn-out kitchen cupboard and/or replacing to rusty or broken handles and hinges will get them looking their best. As for couches or love seats with torn coverings or flattened cushions, you can breathe new life into them by reupholstering and re-stuffing them. On the other hand, you need to be careful not to overdo the changes so the antique stays authentic-looking for the most part.

How to decorate a home using antiques and vintage pieces MyProperty Philippines antique kitchen table
A cleaned-up vintage table for the kitchen. Photo via Depositphotos

Consider the color

To stay cohesive in terms of interior design, one of the keys is to coordinate colors, and this rule applies to antiques too. You do not want your piece to stand out only because it sharply contrasts in hue with everything else in the room. Make sure that the accompanying furniture and accessories and even the color of the room itself matches or compliments the antique item instead of clashing with it. For instance, a red vintage rotary telephone would look nice displayed along with red throw pillows and other small accents, all set against a turquoise wall.

A red vintage phone, along with several red accents, stands out against a turquoise background. Photo from - Search kitchen pictures

Create a theme

If you have a particularly unique artifact to display, put it together with similar items that revolve around a similar subject matter. For instance, if you inherited a decorative globe, use it as an anchor for a travel-themed section by putting it on a shelf along with books about Europe, a few region-specific souvenirs, and framed photos of your trips. For hobby bakers, you can showcase an antique cookie jar alongside some cookbooks, a milk jug filled with spatulas and whisks, a framed family recipe, and salt and pepper shakers.

Vintage globes are grouped with framed maps for a travel-themed shelf. Photo by Jeff Herr Photography - Search living room pictures

Think outside the box

Don’t be too on the nose when deciding where or how to display your relics. Just because it served a specific purpose or placed in a certain room a while back does not mean it should be used or showed off the same way now. Why not prop up an old-fashioned chrome toaster next to silver frames and figurines in a bookcase in the family room? A vintage clock will look nice tacked on the pristine tiled walls of your bathroom. For an even quirkier twist, hang a vintage chair up on a living room wall and use it as a shelf.

An outdoor vintage cafe sign goes well with the living room's overall look. Photo by Kailey J. Flynn Photography - More living room photos


Repurposing or upcycling is a great way to ensure that a vintage item is both decorative and useful. Aside from the obvious aesthetic benefits and the perk of honoring the family member who handed it down to you, repurposing vintage objects also helps the environment. If you have an old suitcase that can no longer be used but still holds sentimental value, turn it into a coffee table or shelf. Instead of using a vintage door as it is meant to be used (and risking damaging it), you can lay it on its side, refinish it, and attach legs to it to transform it into a dining table or work desk. Or perhaps you can create a chandelier out of old silver dining utensils. This is your chance to be resourceful and give back to Mother Earth, so let your creativity fly.

Aside from coffee tables, vintage luggage can also be used as extra storage. Photo by Toronto Interior Design Group | Yanic Simard - Browse bedroom photos

Designate a room

If you want a bigger space to display your old-fashioned decorations but are afraid of turning your whole house into a gallery, just pick a room where you can go old-timey-crazy while leaving all other parts of the house looking modern. In your entertainment room, for instance, you can display your old radio or television (or both), vintage cameras, a retro lounge chair, and framed posters of Jaws and The Godfather for the ultimate ’70s hangout. In the bathroom, why not go Victorian with the mirror, the faucets, the curtains, and the lighting?

A free-standing tub is one of the key elements of a Victorian bathroom. Photo from - More bathroom ideas

Group smaller pieces together

Collectors of small trinkets understand that there is always a danger of creating clutter, which tends to look messy and disorganized. If you have a large collection of family photos from generations past, put them in similar-looking frames and hang them up in one section of a wall for a unified look. Those with a coin collection can similarly display these in frames. A shadow box will work best for pieces that are too bulky for frames, such as old toys and watches.

Grouping photos on one section of the wall creates cohesion. Photo by Feldman Architecture, Inc. - More dining room photos



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