Using Vintage Pieces to Make New, Interesting Decor

Posted by on Jul 31, 2022

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Some people think that if you want to do vintage decor, it’s all or nothing. You either have to have a home that’s a church of mid-century modern style or why bother? It’s might as well be sacrilege to consider anything else. 

Yet all types of vintage, antique and retro decor can be sprinkled into a home or apartment for memorable results, either to create a statement pieces, conversation starters or mood enhancers. 

While a lot of people use the terms "vintage" and "antique" interchangeably, there is a difference. Antique pieces are technically over 100 years old. Vintage pieces can be just as impressive, but are less than 100. Retro, at least in this article, will refer to new items that are designed to look antique or vintage. 

Whether you’re in to utilizing vintage, antique or retro pieces for craftsmanship or kitsch reasons, here are tips on how to make impactful choices, from grand architectural statements to small knickknacks.

Architectural Choices

If you own your home or apartment, you can make additions that can instantaneously give a modern room classic style. Reclaimed wood beams running along the ceiling will make the room a little cozier and more rustic. Yes, the beams can just be decorative. Imported columns may suggest a Thai palace or greek temple. You probably don’t want to overdo the columns approach or you may wind up living in a casino. 

Wood paneling, such as wainscoting or shiplap, can suggest the rooms of a New England manor or shabby chic farmhouse when installed with the right approach. 

Don’t overlook baseboards and molding. While they may just seem like room lining, a taller and more ornate crown molding can suggest a European, old world interior. 

Of course not everyone owns their own place or has he resources to invest in architectural adjustments. Since lighting is often a focal point for the room, it can be a great place to install a vintage piece. Perhaps the most traditional way may be hanging an ornate chandelier from the ceiling. 

You don’t need to go so grand to still make an impact. Smaller art deco wall sconces could dot the room. Victorian table lamps suggest a regal air. Even antique candlesticks will make a statement on dining room table or credenza.

If you're the type of DIYer who loves to restore old furniture, many vintage pieces be brought back to life. When considering a flea market find or antique store offer, carefully consider if the piece has years left to give. Is the wood solid or particle board? If it’s metal, check for rust spots. Strong, well built joints are also a sign of solid craftsmanship. 

You may also want to look for the potential in a piece that isn’t just right. Perhaps you can improve the look with a coat of paint or strip away a layer of florescent topcoat to reveal beautiful wood. 

Before buying a vintage piece, try to get a good idea of what you want. Scour sites like AllTheDecor for a range of vintage options. This will help you narrow them down and give you something concrete to focus on when looking for potential purchases.


Depending on the approach, giving your floors antique or vintage flair can be a big or small investment. Reclaimed wood will make any walking surface seem more well-worn and cozy. An antique oriental rug or runner isn’t as complex to install and can give a room a faded grandeur. 

Accent Pieces and Nicknacks
The carefully placed accent piece can have a huge impact on a room. Consider a mirror or classic oil painting that adds decades or centuries of history to a bare section of the wall. For a similar effect, bookcases can be dotted with leather bound books or pottery from around the world. 

If you're looking for a way to balance the vintage pieces, consider using newer decorations. This adds an unexpected element to your home and makes it stand out. For instance, If you love antique mirrors, don't be afraid to use them in ways that aren't traditional. Try hanging one above a chandelier or putting it on top of a dresser instead of inside one!

Even subtle choices can impact a modern room’s style. Switch out the new doorknobs for something that displays classic carving or forging. Almost anything that has a pull — cabinets, breakfronts, dressers — can have its hardware replaced.