Today I am talking about 10 ways to use vintage in your home for a collected look and feel. Why and how to use a few pieces mixed in with more modern and new is the best way to get a collected look.
Every Sunday, I join my friends Cindy and Mary Ann to share our favorites of the week. Cindy and Mary Ann love the collected look; we’ve discussed it many times in previous blog posts. You can see Mary Ann’s collected home in this post and Cindy’s (most recent) former home in this post.
Why it’s so appealing to use vintage for a collected look
Using vintage pieces gives your home a sense of history. Especially if the pieces have been collected over time and may be part of a collection, each piece may tell part of a story. I think everyone that reads my blog and Cindy and Mary Ann’s feels the same way about mixing vintage with new. After all, we don’t want our homes to look like a Pottery Barn or the Magnolia Home section at Target. But buying a few new things to mix in with the old is where the story begins.
What makes something vintage?
This is a very good question. Some say 20+ years, while others say 40+ years. I think it’s one of those things that you get to decide.
How do you avoid having your home look like a thrift shop?
It’s all about balance. That’s why I love adding vintage in small doses throughout my home. I prefer to layer in vintage with modern and new. For example, I’ll add modern block print napkins if I use a vintage tablecloth. White dinnerware with smaller vintage salad or bread and butter plates.
The Best Place to Source Vintage
Goodwill used to be a great place to find amazing items for a few dollars. But lately, vintage has become so popular that they often have pretty sparse shelves in the home goods section.
I love to visit charity shops in my town or when I am traveling. Slightly more difficult to find, and opening times are limited, so hitting it on the right day can be tricky. That’s why I always have my local favorites and keep a list with hours in my notes section on my phone.
A few (10) of my favorite ways to use vintage:
1. Use Vintage in Small Doses with Old & Repurposed Bottles
You may only want to use a few vintage pieces if you prefer a more modern aesthetic. Consider using an old bottle as a vase or a larger bottle to serve water at the dinner table.
One of my favorite souvenirs is always finding interesting bottles at flea markets or while traveling. I have an Orangina bottle from the Louvre on our first trip to Paris in the late 1980s. I use it with foraged flowers and clippings all year long.
Wine bottles with labels removed are ideal for serving sparkling and still water at the table. These bottles have the name Provence embossed on the bottle. These are not vintage yet!
My family knows me so well that even if I’m not with them, they may bring a bottle back from their travels, knowing I’ll put it to good use.
2. Vintage Crates
Crates are easy to find at flea markets. They can be used in multiple ways and are quite useful.
- Planter box – Line a box with a little heavy plastic from a Ziploc bag and add a few plants to display on the kitchen counter.
- On the wall for display and functional storage – We have four between our kitchen and dining area. They hold cookbooks, small bowls, a few spices, and jars of ingredients. We added a shelf to one of the crates, making it function better.
- On a shelf with school or office supplies – Add in cans or jars, sort your pencils, markers, and supplies, and keep them in a crate that can move from shelf to table or wherever you are working.
3. Vintage Plates
I love to look for small vintage lunch-size plates that can be used for many things.
- I use plates as saucers under clay pots. Mix it up! Instead of using the saucer that maybe comes with a planter, use an old plate. You can use the matching saucer for a candle.
- Collect vintage plates and use them with your other dishes. Stack a smaller plate on top of a dinner plate.
- Hang them on the wall. This seems to be popular again, or maybe it never stopped being popular.
- Serve cookies on a vintage plate and maybe even add a glass dome, as we did above for Easter. Read more in this post.
- If a plate is chipped, it’s okay. It doesn’t have to be used for food.
- Or, consider repairing the item using the Kintsugi method.
4. Vintage Art
Vintage art can be found on Etsy, eBay, flea markets, and tag sales. I love the idea of adding a vintage painting with a modern block print on paper or some downloadable art. We have a few vintage paintings, and smaller sizes work well on a gallery wall.
I recently switched things up on our gallery wall behind our banquette. That’s what I love about a vintage find; I can always find a spot. It may mean moving things around, but that’s okay with me. Nothing stays the same in the home of a collector or someone who loves the collected look.
5. The Odd Chair
There’s nothing more charming to me than a big table with different chairs around it at the holidays. I love the mix of an odd chair that’s vintage mixed in with all the other chairs.
An odd chair is perfect at a desk, in a bedroom, or anywhere in your house. I found a vintage Thonet bentwood chair at an annual tag sale in New Canaan for $2. It still has the original metal tag on the bottom. It needed to be recaned, but that’s a small price to pay for a beautiful vintage chair.
6. Vintage Candlesticks
A pair of candlesticks are easy to find. Use as a pair with a few other items on a table. Or use several down a table with the same or all different colored candles. In the photo below, I used several pairs of vintage candlesticks and whatever candles I had on hand.
7. Vintage Ashtrays
A few years ago, I saw a stack of Bemelman’s Bar ashtrays that I probably could have bought for a few dollars. But why? What would I do with several vintage ashtrays from Bemelman’s Bar? Use them as a catchall, of course!
An ashtray is often an excellent catchall and easy to find. Heavy crystal ashtrays at Goodwill are not uncommon. Most need a good scrub, but if you can get past that, you could have crystal catchall for less than $2!
We saw several at the flea markets in France. We plan to stock up and add them to the shop on our next buying trip to France.
8. Vintage Rugs
Mary Ann has shared her sources for finding vintage rugs in this post. They can really add so much to a space. Even a small vintage rug or two that coordinate can give a space a sense of that collected over time feel as in the home of Diane Karmen.
9. Vintage Glassware
10. The French Working Glass
One of my favorite things to look for when I’m at flea markets is the French working glass. They are often only a few dollars, and each is slightly different. They are made of pressed glass which makes them very durable. Most of the glasses I’ve purchased do not have a single chip.
They can be used for everything from pencils and office supplies to silverware or other kitchen utensils.