Styling vintage pieces with modern and new items is key to creating a home with character.
Those interiors where everything is shiny and new – even if they're beautiful, well-designed pieces – can often feel more like a property developer's show house rather than a much-loved home. In short they can feel a little soul-less and rather unwelcoming.
Interior designer, Julia Thompson of Frank Interiors (opens in new tab), says 'I see so many interiors that are stylish but lack personality. People often forget to style a room, and this for me, is where the magic happens.'
It's the family heirlooms, cherished pieces and quirky ephemera picked up along the way, or that mean something to you, that put your personality into your space.
There's joy in finding something that was beautifully made long before mass-production became the norm, or is a one-off piece you're unlikely to see elsewhere – whether it's gifted from an older relative or found in a junk shop - and this translates into your living space.
There are obvious eco benefits too, which can also make us, and our homes, feel good.Re-using rather than allowing perfectly good furniture to end up in landfill makes sense.
Older items no longer 'off-gas' either, so they're better to have in your home. (Furniture and other household products are exposed to noxious chemicals (VOCs) during the manufacturing process – and these substances can cause irritation and allergic reactions).
So what should you consider when buying and styling vintage items? Julia Thompson, of Frank Interiors, specialists in marrying modern and vintage, gives us her take:
See how Julia has styled her home in this video from our June House Tours (opens in new tab) and read her tips below:
I work organically to a certain degree. When you're buying vintage pieces, you may see something so amazing it can actually change your scheme. Have fun browsing vintage fairs and be open to what you might find rather than having fixed ideas of what you're looking for. And buy only what you love.
See Julia'sInsider tips for outside spaces. (opens in new tab)
WHERE TO RUMMAGE
There are some great vintage fairs and markets. My favourite fair is Midcentury Modern (opens in new tab), which started at Dulwich college but now has various venues throughout the year.
There are also great vintage fairs in Peckham, run by the Big London Flea, which are good for finding quirky accessories.
The twice-monthly market at Kempton racecourse has great stuff at good prices but you have to get there at around 6am – and always haggle!
When you're putting pieces together, there are a few loose rules whether you're mixing vintage and modern or not. Place items where they work colour-wise but also where they fit.
Items usually look best in odd numbers, generally 3-5 pieces together. Go for different heights and shapes that work well together and get the tones right – I love brown glass, which works beautifully with colours like orange and green. Dark colours look great, with something bright thrown into the mix.
And keep items interesting; a vintage typewriter, with a modern plant, and a couple of vases work a treat.
See more of Julia's ideas in her home here. (opens in new tab)
Jacky Parker is a London-based freelance journalist and content creator, specialising in interiors, travel and food. From buying guides and real home case studies to shopping and news pages, she produces a wide range of features for national magazines and SEO content for websites
A long-time contributor to Livingetc, as a member of the team, she regularly reports on the latest trends, speaking to experts and discovering the latest tips. Jacky has also written for other publications such as Homes and Gardens, Ideal Home, Red, Grand Designs, Sunday Times Style and AD, Country Homes and Interiors and ELLE Decoration.
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