How to Decorate with Vintage Decor

Filling our home with unique, vintage finds is my passion. I see beauty in the old and imperfect. In frayed edges and tattered covers. In the the worn out and faded.  To me, vintage decor is all about filling a home with charm and character. Today I want to share a few simple ways you can begin to incorporate vintage goodies into any space. If you’re looking to create a new and fresh look in your home, these easy tips will help you get there with vintage decor.

How to decorate your home with vintage decor

Don’t be Afraid

The first step to decorating with vintage decor is let go of your traditional idea of what “home decor” means. Vintage is awesome because it’s different. It’s not the typical decor you’ll find at Target. It’s unusual. Unexpected. Unique. In order to see that beauty, you can’t be afraid to mix it up and stray from the norm. It may take a while to see that if decorating this way is new for you, but looking at decor differently is the first step to realizing the magic of vintage. Once you do, you’ll never go back. I promise.

Start Small

If you’re new to decorating with vintage decor, I recommend starting small. Go to your local antique shop or thrift store and find one or two items you really love, like this old vintage gas can, and use it on your coffee table to display flowers instead of your typical vase. This simple switch will instantly add charm and character to the entire room.

How to Decorate with Vintage Decor::Vintage Oil Can

Mix Vintage & Neutral Colors

My favorite way to use vintage items it to pair them with fresh and calming neutral colors. Our front room (pictured below) a great example of that. While I’m certainly no expert and have no professional training in this area, I believe there is a lot of “energy” in the colors we choose to use in our homes. For me, red and other dark toned colors are much more busy and energetic than gray, light blues, and cream tones. Personally I find this combination to be the most appealing to the eye and much more soothing. I didn’t realize this fact about myself until about two years ago. Before that I loved combining any and all colors–the more the better! Thankfully I’ve since realized what calms my heart and spirit–and it’s definitely soft, neutral colors. And if you’re using vintage decor, which already makes a statement on its own, I’d suggest minimizing all the other distractions so those beautiful vintage items really stand out.

Vintage Farmhouse Decorating Tips

How to Decorate with Vintage Decor

How to Decorate with Vintage Decor Coke Crate

I love using this old sifter to hold flowers. And the pairing of white with the galvanized metal is my obsession. Definitely unexpected, but somehow it works. And this is an easy look to put together!

Call Your Mom

Yes, call your mom. Or maybe your grandma. First ask how she’s doing. Then ask if she has any old goodies sitting around the house she’d be willing to let you “borrow”. I’d say at least 60% of the vintage pieces I have in our home came from my mother, grandmother, or another family member. Those make the best pieces because they’re not only vintage, but they have a personal story and meaning to you. Take for instance this glass jar.

How to Decorate with Vintage Decor::Glass Jar used for soap

I talked a bit about this jar in our master bathroom revealbut I’ll quickly fill you in on the story again. While decorating our bathroom I was on the hunt for a large jar I could use to hold soap. I was browsing Hobby Lobby and came across one that would have worked perfectly. But instead of buying it on the spot, I decided to call my mom. I asked if she had any old large jars and sure enough she did. This beauty, which first belonged to my grandmother, has stored flour, homemade cookies, and lots of other goodies over decades of use. And now it’s here, being used in a new way and serving a new purpose. Simple, but perfect.

Decorating with Vintage Decor::Vintage Toolbox as Centerpiece

This vintage wooden toolbox is another great piece I was lucky to “borrow” from my mother. This belonged to my grandpa, he used it for years and years on his farm, and now it’s the centerpiece on our dining room table. Thankfully my mom also shares my same love for vintage, so she has lots of goodies to share. But I’d be willing to bet your mom or grandma also has some amazing treasures tucked away–just waiting to be brought out and given new life!
How to Decorate with Vintage Decor::Vintage Trunk

This old trunk also belonged to my grandma. For as long as I can remember this trunk was in her living room and used as her coffee table. It’s amazing to have it in my own home now and used in the same way.

Use Old Books

If you’re not decorating with old books you simply aren’t living. Old books are a huge part of my home. I wrote a whole post about how you can decorate with old books, but it’s really very simple. Wrap them in twine, burlap, or just stack them up. You can’t go wrong with old books.

Decorating with Vintage Decor::Old Books

This is my favorite pair of books in our home. The white lace and ribbon is the perfect neutral touch that takes makes these book so beautiful.

How to Decorate with Vintage Decor Old Books and Vintage Cheesebox

This set I simply wrapped in twine and placed in an old cheese box. Easy peasy and it makes for the perfect coffee table display.

Think Outside the Box

Reach for unconventional items. I saved this one for last because it’s probably the most extreme tip I can share today. And by extreme I really mean awesome. My favorite way to add a big dollop of vintage charm to any space is to incorporate unique pieces, like this porch railing.

How to Decorate with Vintage Decor Porch Railing

Sure, you’d probably never even think about putting an old porch railing in your home. But I did and it works.

How to Decorate with Vintage Decor Vintage Crib Spring

One other unusual piece in our home is this vintage crib spring. I was actually inspired to do this after seeing a photo on Instagram. This is one of my favorite vintage items in our home. It makes the perfect backdrop for any display, wreath, or it’s great just by itself. I love it. This may be too extreme for your style, but the lesson here is to think outside the box.

Know the Difference 

Ok, I said that was the last tip but I have to clarify one point: Decorating with vintage decor doesn’t mean you like anything old, worn out, or faded. This is definitely not the case. In fact, being a vintage rockstar means you have to know the differencebetween vintage goodness and junk. This is huge. While I’m incredibly passionate about breathing life into old things, I have to know when to draw the line. It’s definitely a personal choice you’ll have to make–but knowing that boundary will serve you well. I’ve made this mistake myself and brought home items I thought were awesome, but in reality were just too far gone to salvage or simply too “rustic” to use as decor.

So those are my tips for incorporating vintage decor into your home. Go for it. Be different. But no matter what, create a home that YOU love. Thanks for stopping by friends!

 

Leave a Comment

73 Comments

  1. Sharon Wadsworth wrote:

    Thanks for this! I was country, then contemporary, now liking the vintage/farm house look. I’m 69 and believe that you are never too old to change!

    Posted 4.27.16 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      I totally agree Sharon–you’re never too old to start something new!

      Posted 4.27.16 Reply
      • Sandra Price wrote:

        I love every thing you do…you have inspired me to think out side my box….thank you. Sandi

        Posted 7.15.18 Reply
  2. Donna wrote:

    Thank you for all your inspiration!

    Posted 4.27.16 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      Thank you for reading Donna!

      Posted 4.27.16 Reply
  3. Jane wrote:

    Love everything! I had to Pin the picture of the old your sifters used as flower containers. Finding new ways to incorporate the old into our homes is so fun. You truly nail vintage on the head. So many times i see too much rust and ‘junk’. I like to balance rustic with feminine and somehow it all goes together naturally…maybe the neutral tones, maybe the texture.

    So glad you started a blog. You are a great writer and your home is so pretty. I follow you on IG and was glad to see you get on the bandwagon!!! 🙂

    Jane

    Posted 4.27.16 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      You are so sweet to leave such a nice comment. It means so much to me. Thank you so much for reading and supporting my blog, I really appreciate it Jane!

      Posted 4.28.16 Reply
  4. Joan wrote:

    Excellent tips and beautiful decor! Thanks for the inspiration and a great read!

    Posted 4.28.16 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      Thank you so much Joan!

      Posted 4.28.16 Reply
  5. stacey parris wrote:

    Loving your blog and great ideas…you should visit Stuff Unique Antiques sometime! We love the same things!

    Posted 4.28.16 Reply
  6. Alie B wrote:

    Excellent article! I love your ideas. Thanks for the tips! 🙂

    Posted 5.7.16 Reply
  7. Wendy wrote:

    Love looking at your page learned a lot of new ideas keep up the good work

    Posted 5.9.16 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      Thank you Wendy, and thanks for dropping by!

      Posted 5.9.16 Reply
  8. Leanne wrote:

    A new fan of your blog!! Love it!! Sharing it on my facebook page Junkin Addict.

    Posted 5.9.16 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      Goodness, thank you so much Leanne, that really means a lot to me!

      Posted 5.9.16 Reply
  9. Judith wrote:

    I love vintage decoration … But u went above and beyond with all your tips and ideas ! Thank you much!

    Posted 5.10.16 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      Thanks so much Judith!

      Posted 5.10.16 Reply
  10. johan macb wrote:

    Keep up the good work.

    Posted 5.15.16 Reply
  11. This is such a great site keep up the good work.please check out our Free Classifieds site:Real estate, apartments, condo, house rental, room rental, roommates, short term rentals, commercial, office space, storage, parking, houses for sale, condos for sale, land for sale, Cars, Trucks, Vans, Rvs, Parts, Jobs Pets, Livestock, Farmers market, news all at https://topdollarclassifieds.ca/

    Posted 5.19.16 Reply
  12. Tina wrote:

    I just discovered you on Pinterest and I LOVE your style!

    Posted 5.31.16 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      Thank you Tina! I’m glad you are here!

      Posted 5.31.16 Reply
  13. Meghan wrote:

    Great ideas! I noticed you have a few older Windows and doors. I have this great old chippy door that I bought about 5 years ago. However when we had kids and changed houses, it ended up in our basement. We started worrying about the chipping paint and it most certainly has lead. Have you had to seal any of yours? If so, do you have a product that you like? Someone time me once to use boat lacquer, so it wouldn’t yellow over time. Would love any tips! Thanks so much!

    Posted 6.14.16 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      We definitely have to be careful with the old paint. I do worry about that. I seal all of mine with the clear Zinsser Shellac–it comes in a can like spray paint. This works pretty well and doesn’t change the color, although it does make it look a bit more shiny.

      Posted 6.14.16 Reply
  14. Jonita wrote:

    I love your ideas. I have many of the things you have used in decorateing your home. I have a space above my stairs going down to our basement is blank and the baby bed springs would look good there. Now off I go thanks to you hunting for the springs.

    Posted 6.24.16 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      Definitely! Sounds like a perfect spot Jonita. Thanks for stopping by!

      Posted 6.24.16 Reply
  15. Andrea wrote:

    Great Post! I love how you show everything as-is, instead of painting it or making it appear new again. There is such beauty in aging!

    Posted 7.8.16 Reply
  16. Tiffany wrote:

    I love your home….so beautiful! Where did you find your rug in the living room? The color is exactly what I’m looking for.

    Posted 7.15.16 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      Thank you Tiffany! I found that at Target, but I don’t think they have that exact rug anymore.

      Posted 7.15.16 Reply
  17. Bridgette wrote:

    Hi there! I absolutely love the flow and ease your place has. I have been trying to mix in vintage finds and came across an old, large glass Demijohn in a wire basket, but the basket is really rusty. Any thoughts on whether to keep it in its original state or scrubbing it off to clean it up a bit? I wish I could send a picture for a better description. Thanks!

    Posted 7.20.16 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      Hi Bridgette! Feel free to email me at [email protected]. I’d say maybe scrub it down a bit if the rust is really bad. Clean it up and I bet it will look great!

      Posted 7.20.16 Reply
  18. Barbara wrote:

    I see a lot of farmhouse blogs on Pinterest and yours is by far my favorite. I love your style, both in decorating and writing! You have given me many great ideas. Yours is the first place I go when I need some inspiration! Thank you so much for a wonderful job of sharing your talents.

    Posted 7.27.16 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      Barbara, you are too dang sweet! Thank you so much, I can’t tell you how much that means to me. Soooo grateful for your support! xoxo

      Posted 7.27.16 Reply
  19. chai wrote:

    Sarah
    Thank you for sharing and giving me a glimpse of your home. Its stunning. I love the way you so creatively put items together. Such fantastic composition.

    Keep on sharing, its inspiring!

    Posted 8.4.16 Reply
  20. Keiko wrote:

    Could you please tell me where you got your white coffee table and wood white tray on coffee table?

    Posted 8.25.16 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      Hi Keiko, those are actually both thrifted finds. The coffee table was a yard sale find and the white tray was at a local thrift store. I painted them both in Annie Sloan Old White chalk paint.

      Posted 8.25.16 Reply
  21. I love this sight. Just started looking at it tonight. I moved a year ago from a house to a condo. I still have things in the garage I have not used. One of them is the Coca Cola crate which I have had for years. After seeing how you used yours it gave me some ideas. Thank You, Annette

    Posted 9.2.16 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      Yay, glad you got some ideas out of it Annette!

      Posted 9.3.16 Reply
  22. anna pell wrote:

    love these ideas , I’m still discovering cool things in our 125 year old barn . thank you for the inspiration ! annie

    Posted 1.22.17 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      Aw thank you so much Anna. I’m sure your 125 year old barn is AMAZING!

      Posted 1.23.17 Reply
  23. Eleanor wrote:

    Hi! love your style.

    Posted 2.10.17 Reply
  24. Found your blog while looking for something else. Subscribed immediately. Great ideas, I have a lot of this stuff in my garage, need to get out there and start looking.

    Posted 2.26.17 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      That’s so awesome Debra, thank you so much for subscribing! xoxo

      Posted 2.26.17 Reply
  25. Sophia wilhelm wrote:

    Hey Sarah,
    I’m currently redoing my room and I was just wondering where you got your old books from and the old crates too??
    Thanks,
    Sophia

    Posted 3.5.17 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      Hi Sophia! I find most of my old books at thrift stores and garage sales. And same with the old crates! Also check on Craigslist for that kind of stuff!

      Posted 3.5.17 Reply
      • Lynda R. wrote:

        I just found you on Pinterest and can’t wait to start enjoying your blog. We’re getting ready to downsize and can’t wait to start building a whole new look!

        Thanks for the inspiration!
        –Lynda

        Posted 3.13.17 Reply
  26. Tracie wrote:

    I love your home and posts. It really communicates your heart, too. I hope you get the chance to publish a book in the future.

    I havE some awesome things I inherited from my Memaw, and some are a little valuable and some are only sentimental. I couldn’t figure out what to do with her collection of Avon bottles. Some still smell like the perfume. I found a thrift store wire basket and put them in it, and they live by my bathroom sink now, and they have been a dining table centerpiece in the basket and a coffee table centerpiece, but the bathroom sink is the best spot!

    She had a wooden telephone table that I remember growing up with it present when I visited her. It was from the early 1950s. I kept it as is, with scratches and the original upholstery. I needed two nightstands, and I bought a second old telephone table (the table part was correct for the other side of the bed, you would want to be careful of that). The one I bought is older, too, and it was chalk painted light green, and that matches a color in the upholstery of my grandmother’s chair. The telephone tables are the same height, too. They store a lot as actual nightstands and look great. The mismatch looks deliberate and I think pretty cute.

    I have a carnival glass candy dish that is valuable that she had. I love it. It is always on my dining table, and it is the bluish bright shade, and from the 1940s. There is also a wood carving from Israel where her aunt traveled and gave it to her, and I have it. I found a big carnival glass fruit bowl that matches the candy dish for my living room as my “catch all” for keys and my smaller purses, and sometimes the remote.

    I also found four rare books from about 1900. One is a first edition. Three, including the first edition, are by Arthur Conan Doyle and are Sherlock Holmes stories. The other book is a Zane Grey western. I put them in a wire basket on my coffee table at a safe distance from drinks, and my coffee table is too tall for feet to go on it.

    I found a 1940s stanley toy company horses/carriage toy at a thrift store with two riders. It is on my coffee table, too. And I just found a 1930s big wood doll carriage with metal wheels. It holds a canvas of a landscape I painted.

    I love vintage! Plus with family items it can be free most of the time. I look forward to hopefully coming across other pieces, too, at thrift stores. If I didn’t have it through family, I found it at a thrift store.

    Posted 4.12.17 Reply
  27. Nancy wrote:

    I am new to your blog and really enjoy your tips. They are so practical.
    I love the shade of yellow in the room that has the porch railing.
    Can you please tell me what brand and color?
    With all the grey and griege out there, it’s so refreshing to see a warm and inviting shade of yellow.

    Thank you Sarah.

    Posted 7.4.17 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      Hi Nancy! I’m so glad to have you visit my blog, thanks for dropping in. That paint color is actually Autumn Blonde by Sherwin Williams!

      Posted 7.4.17 Reply
      • Nancy wrote:

        It’s gorgeous and warm.

        I also wanted to thank you for your tips on styling a tray with all the different heights, books and tying in the right undertones of plants as well as their containers.
        Thank you for the paint color Sarah and I will be checking back on your blog more Often!

        Posted 7.5.17 Reply
  28. EMMA wrote:

    Wish you were my daughter ha..and looking at your home and the items, I have most and couldn’t sell at yard sale. I am a young, and young at heart 79 and have had 12 new homes of varied styles. Now I am in an old school house with addons and have sold most of my antiques and country french theme. A;ways trying something new and will certainly use some of your ideas. Just sold an old bed spring…Oh well,,,,,,,,And will utilize baby crib sides as you did your porch rails…. Love your home and keep smiling and doing….MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

    Posted 12.2.17 Reply
  29. Jane wrote:

    I am assuming that a lot of your flowers are artificial — but look so life-like! Can you share where you find them? thanks!

    Posted 5.5.18 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      I usually buy all of my artificial flowers from Michael’s!

      Posted 5.6.18 Reply
  30. JOANNE HORTON wrote:

    Your home is beautiful. I decided to redecorate our home in the farmhouse theme, first by painting most of our rooms myself. At 69 yrs old this is was not easy. Taking my time and now the search is on for decor. Your ideas are wonderful and have set me on the right path of what to look for. Some new items and some items used from my family’s past. Thank you for all your great advice.

    Posted 5.6.18 Reply
  31. Becky wrote:

    Well I’m hooked. I have been in process of changing over to farmhouse from primitive. I just needed to lighten and brighten without using bright over the top colors. Your home is gorgeous an you have given me so many examples of what farmhouse should look like. Love all your simple ideas . I have books and did have them tied with twine and then I thought it was maybe not right. Same thing with a large narrow paned window. Well guess what’s coming back in my living room. I knew I liked it just thought I’d was wrong for the style. Anyway thank you so much for all the wonderful ideas.

    Posted 5.14.18 Reply
  32. Amanda wrote:

    Love these article! I want to give a vintage look to my home and this article very helpful for me. Thanks and keep sharing.

    Posted 5.28.18 Reply
  33. Deb wrote:

    I love your style, now I’ve just got to start thinking out of the box… My future daughter in love is more of the simple farm house look where I am a mixture of that and the shabby chic… It gets confusing sometimes when you don’t have someone to follow so I look forward to receiving your newsletter! Thank you so much and Happy New Year!

    Posted 1.7.19 Reply
  34. Teresa wrote:

    I live in a 1965 colonial brick painted ranch house which is primarily decorated in antiques that I have purchased and inherited since the early 1970’s. I didn’t realize until the “farmhouse “ style became in vogue when Joanna Gaines appeared on HGTV that almost 100% of my antique collection is in fact true famehouse. That means that my decorations are vey dark colored. I would appreciate your opinions about how I should lighten up some of my items beginn With my picture frames. Should I paint and distress them all or just a few? My husband is not agreeable to painting any of the dark antique furniture, please help?

    Posted 1.26.19 Reply
  35. Teresa wrote:

    I live in a 1965 colonial brick painted ranch house which is primarily decorated in antiques that I have purchased and inherited since the early 1970’s. I didn’t realize until the “farmhouse “ style became in vogue when Joanna Gaines appeared on HGTV that almost 100% of my antique collection is in fact true farmhouse. That means that my items are vey dark colored. I would appreciate your opinions about how I should lighten up some of my items beginning with my picture frames. Should I paint and distress them all or just a few? My husband is not agreeable to painting any of the dark antique furniture, please help?

    Posted 1.26.19 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      Hi Teresa, I’d say start slow and see how you feel after mixing in those lighter colors. You might love it or it might not feel like you. I always say go with your gut! And don’t be afraid of change–it’s just paint!!

      Posted 1.27.19 Reply
  36. Rosanne wrote:

    Thank you for being so inspiring. I love vintage too for all of its uniqueness not to mention anti landfill benfits. Am still into rich colours.

    Posted 2.1.19 Reply

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