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How to Achieve a Vintage Style

So you want to have vintage style, do you? Here’s the thing: “vintage” is a style of many interpretations and opinions. Some people refer to “vintage” as anything that was previously owned or used, whether it was five years ago or 500.

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In reality, however, vintage is a style that technically refers to anything between 20 (or some say 50) and 100 years old. (Anything older than 100 is considered antique.) Vintage style is associated with pieces from a particular era or time period that have withstood the test of time and are still stylishly relevant today.

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The bottom line of vintage style is to collect and incorporate items that give you pleasure. But to establish a cohesive vintage style, you’ll want to consider a few things. Such as, what do you envision your overall vintage-inspired aesthetic to be? Technically, items from the 30s and 60s are both vintage, but it would make more sense to choose one (give or take a decade) and stick to it.

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Vintage Style Tip: Repurpose vintage items for modern uses. Vintage style doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t) mean charming-but-horribly-run-down. Vintage frames can be repurposed into jewelry organizers/displays…which perhaps serves double-duty as artwork? And keep in mind that one fantastic vintage piece can almost singlehandedly carry the style throughout the whole space, with just a few simple touches (say, a vintage colander hanging from the kitchen wall).

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Vintage Style Tip: Embrace the charm of imperfection. Vintage style is all about celebrating the style of times gone by. Sometimes the best way to do this is to let the evidence of times gone by shine! A small tear in a vintage blanket top, some (or lots of) scuffs on the metal, and chipped paint all over the place – these are the things that endear a vintage piece to us. Of course, everyone’s level of tolerance for imperfection is different, but decide what works for you and let it be. Make sure, always, that despite the pieces’ imperfections (whatever they may be), they are safe and sanitary.

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Vintage Style Tip: Color is fun, and fun is good. Depending on what era you’re focused on recreating in your space, certain color palettes will play an important role in carrying your aesthetic through successfully. If you’re going for more of an Art Deco vintage style (think: 1920s through the early 1940s), you’ll want to incorporate lighter and more neutral shades, perhaps with metallic undertones. Maybe throw in a pastel or two for good measure. If you’re drawn to a Mid Century Modern vibe, you’ll do well with bolder, deeper tones. Whatever you decide, vintage style as a rule embraces color! It adds to the charm.

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Vintage Style Tip: Mix and match and piece together. Mixing and matching found, charming pieces will ultimately establish your vintage style. Just be sure to tie everything together somehow, by color or by pairing them with similar items. For example, replace run-of-the-mill ceiling fans with antique chandeliers. Paint an old church pew a color that you already have in the space – in this case, the ceiling. Enjoy the fun in pairing together unlikely pieces.

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Vintage Style Tip: Use textiles creatively and cheerfully. A fun vintage tip is to be slightly unexpected in your use of resources – for example, use “sweet” resources in sturdy roles, and vice versa. Hang a hefty frame from some ribbon, or use hard-working burlap for your drapes. This is unexpected and delightful and provides a charming vintage sensibility. Remember, everything doesn’t have to actually be vintage for you to have vintage style!

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Posted in How To, Tips, and Advice on November 14, 2013

About the author

Brittney Smart
Brittney is a wife, a mom of four young children, a writer and editor (B.S. degree in English/Technical Writing), and a lover of interior design. She thrives on finding inexpensive ways to DIY her own home into a stylish yet family-friendly space.

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