How to Decorate Vintage Style

Updated on December 14, 2017
Faye Rutledge profile image

Faye loves to help her daughter decorate the rooms in her old farmhouse and to share what they have done with others.

Ideas for Decorating Your Home in a Vintage Style

Vintage decorating is fun and easy! In this article, you'll find ideas on how to decorate your home in a vintage style, including the living room, kitchen, bedroom, den, laundry room, and even your bathroom.

Whether you want to give a vintage feel to your entire home or just one room, it can be accomplished easily and inexpensively by shopping flea markets, yard sales, antique stores, and even in your grandma's attic! Framed posters and tin signs are another money saving idea.

I helped my daughter decorate her bedroom in a vintage theme, and many of the ideas and photos shown here are from our experience. This will get you started, and you are sure to think of more ideas on your own. Let's take it room by room.

The Living Room

Lace doilies, antique vases, cabbage rose and calico print fabrics are must haves in your vintage living room.

My daughter had a slipcover made for this chair in a vintage cabbage rose fabric and the footstool is covered in a floral design that coordinates.
My daughter had a slipcover made for this chair in a vintage cabbage rose fabric and the footstool is covered in a floral design that coordinates.

Decorating Tips for the Living Area

Cabbage roses and calico prints were the going thing in the 30s and 40s! You may not want to paper your living room in cabbage roses, but you could upholster a chair or just cover some throw pillows. My daughter had a slipcover made for her chair in a cabbage rose fabric and the footstool in a coordinating floral. She used the extra fabric to make covers for throw pillows.

Note: This chair is actually in a bedroom at my daughter's home, but the same idea would apply for a living room.

Popular in 30s and 40s:

  • Cabbage Roses
  • Calico Prints

Lace doilies, hurricane lamps, head vases, and a variety of knick-knacks were usually found in the living room.

Accessories for Decorating:

  • Lace Doilies
  • Hurricane Lamps
  • Head Vases
  • Knick-knacks
  • Glass Vases and Bowls
  • Tea Sets
  • Vintage Fireplace Tools
  • Vintage Framed Portraits or Photographs

If you have a fireplace, add vintage fire andirons, hand wrought tools, bellows and foot long matches. If your home doesn't have a fireplace, you can purchase an electric fireplace to give the room that comfy, cozy feel. Combine the old with the new, by adding vintage framed photographs and antique glass vases to your fireplace mantle.

Where to Shop

It's easy to find vintage items. They are plentiful at consignment shops and antique stores. Also, flea markets and yard sales are a good place to look for interesting finds. Check your local paper for upcoming yard sales. EBay also has lots of vintage items and collectibles. If you haven't already looked, check out your grandma's attic. You might find lots of hidden treasures there. Take your time and add to your collection as you find it.

Where to Find Vintage:

  • Consignment Shops
  • Antique Stores
  • Used Furniture Stores
  • Flea Markets
  • Yard Sales
  • eBay
  • Grandma's Attic

The Kitchen

Vintage aprons, mixers, enamel ware, Fiesta-ware, canning jars, milk bottles, iron frying pans, salt & pepper shakers, mercury glass, and butter churns are ideas for your kitchen.

My grandson has this 50s kitchen set in his apartment. He bought the table used and ordered the chairs from Amazon.
My grandson has this 50s kitchen set in his apartment. He bought the table used and ordered the chairs from Amazon.

50s Retro Kitchen Table and Chairs

If you love the 50s era, you'll want one of these chrome kitchen table and chairs. They are an icon of the 50s decor. My grandson has one of these in his apartment. He found the table from an ad in the paper, but had trouble finding the chairs. Over the years, the chairs didn't last as long as the table, so you can usually find a table in almost every consignment or antique shop, but the chairs are very hard to locate. These sets were usually red, black, or yellow.

I finally found the chairs on Amazon (see below). The chairs are new, but have the look of the real thing. You can also purchase the table, but we didn't need that. The chairs are very sturdy and well made, and also available in black. We had to put them together, but it was no problem. They look great with the kitchen table.

Decorating Ideas for the Kitchen

A vintage kitchen is the most fun to decorate. You'll need to shop the antique stores and flea markets to get the real thing (or eBay), but you can also find many new items that will serve as well.

Look for any of these: blue speckled enamelware, fiesta ware, colored Depression glass (cranberry is a favorite), Bakelite, salt glazed pottery, and mercury glass. Kitchens usually had blue or red and white enamel pots and canister sets. And, don't forget iron frying pans!

Also, look for vintage egg beaters, salt & pepper shakers, salt cellars, butter molds, tin breadboxes, colored canning jars, milk bottles, butter churns, vintage mixers, and antique cookbooks.

If you can find any, feed sacks were found in all kitchens with a variety of uses, including dish towels, aprons and clothing.

Use colored or clear canning jars for storing dried beans, etc. and add a lid cover made of calico or feed bag material and some ribbon.

Ideas for walls: vintage tin signs or display a collection of vintage aprons, plates, or appliances on your kitchen wall.

Use These Accessories to Decorate Your Vintage Kitchen

Blue speckled enamel
Old egg beaters
Blue or red enamel
Depression glass
Canning jars
Mercury glass
Tin bread boxes
Salt glazed pottery
Red enamel canister sets
Milk bottles
Iron frying pans
Salt & Pepper shakers
Vintage aprons
Vintage appliances
Salt cellars
Tin signs

Bringing Back Memories

Vintage is all about bringing back memories.

My mom making biscuits at our Hoosier cabinet is my all time favorite. What is your favorite memory?

Remember Hoosier Cabinets?

A free-standing cabinet, made in the 1900s to 1930s, were generally called Hoosier Cabinets. They were very handy and were found in many kitchen's much longer than the 1930s. My mom used one in the 1950s when I was a child, and I had one myself in the 1970s.

If you have room in your kitchen, one of these cabinets would make an awesome vintage decoration. You can usually find one at an antique store or used furniture store at a reasonable price. It will probably need to be restored, but it will be beautiful when it's finished. If you enjoy restoring furniture, this would make a great project. You can still purchase a new Hoosier cabinet also.

Iconic Vintage Kitchen Design Ideas

You will love the video below if you're looking for design ideas for your kitchen. Many of the suggestions I gave you above are carried out in the kitchens shown in this video. I loved seeing many of things I grew up using. Old cookbooks, rolling pins, and enamel pans to name a few. And, remember the black and white tiled floors? Red, white, black, and turquoise were the colors of the 50s.

The Bedroom

Vintage linens, featherbeds, antique lamps, and women's hats are a few ideas for your bedroom.

Vintage dresser and lamps, with unique accessories to decorate.
Vintage dresser and lamps, with unique accessories to decorate.

Accessories Make the Difference

I love this vintage white dresser! My daughter found this dresser at a local used furniture store. It was in good condition and already painted white. She stuck a couple of vintage greeting cards that she found at an antique store in the edge of the mirror. Also, the cute straw hat, vintage lamps, dolls, and other accessories make for a beautifully decorated dresser. It's amazing how the small things can make a big difference in your room.

The bed linens include a feather bed,  Matelasse bedspread and a rose design quilt.  My daughter used an old trellis from her front porch and added a silk rose garland.
The bed linens include a feather bed, Matelasse bedspread and a rose design quilt. My daughter used an old trellis from her front porch and added a silk rose garland.

Use Your Linens for a Vintage Look

It's easy to transform your bedroom into vintage style with the linens. A featherbed will make your bed look soft and fluffy, and will be so comfortable, too. An old fashion chenille bedspread and/or a quilt are perfect for keeping with the theme. If you can find a crocheted or knitted afghan, add it to the foot of the bed.

Linen Ideas:

  • Featherbed
  • Quilts
  • Eiderdown comforters
  • Chenille Bedspread
  • Afghans
  • Piled high pillows

These will put you well on your way to the vintage look. The Shabby Chic style would also be a great choice for your bedroom linens.

Other Suggestions:

  • Doilies on the dresser and chest
  • Bowl and pitcher
  • Baby cradle with antique doll

I love this beautiful portrait over the fireplace.
I love this beautiful portrait over the fireplace.

The Walls

My daughter displayed several old framed portraits on her walls. She found this one in a consignment shop. These are easy to find and the portrait doesn't even have to be anyone you know. Just use it for the vintage look. Usually, the frames are beautiful and you could buy it for the frame alone and add your own portrait. Some people love to hang old wedding portraits on their wall. Vicky used her own wedding portrait in this room.

Also, the smaller framed vintage photos make great decorations. Again, it doesn't need to be anyone you know, but it would be even better to use a framed snapshot of your grandparents.

Ideas for walls:

  • Framed Antique Portraits
  • Antique Wedding Portraits
  • Art Prints
  • Tin Signs

The Den

Vintage toys and games, collectibles, and old tin signs are fun ideas for a den.

My daughter placed vintage tin signs, license plates, and other memorabilia in her shadow-box coffee table for an interesting display.
My daughter placed vintage tin signs, license plates, and other memorabilia in her shadow-box coffee table for an interesting display.

Ideas for the Den

Decorate a vintage den with:

  • Antique Toys
  • Board Games
  • Favorite Collectibles
  • Coca Cola Collectibles
  • Tin Signs

What is your passion? Here is the place to display your collectibles. If you are looking for vintage ideas, you're probably a collector of something! The variety is wide and you can include more than one theme. Display your collectibles in curio cabinets, on bookshelves, or tables. The possibilities are endless. You can find these at flea markets, antique stores, yard sales, and eBay.

The Laundry Room

Display a wooden ironing board with a calico cover, a clothespin bag, and a tin washtub and washboard!

Laundry Room Decorating Ideas

  • Tin Washtub
  • Tin Washboard
  • Clothespin Bag
  • Clothespins
  • Wicker Laundry Basket
  • Wooden Ironing Board (with calico or print cover)
  • Tin Signs (with a laundry theme)

Note: The video below shows some amazing ideas for decorating a vintage laundry room, using some of the ideas I mentioned above. I love the unique ideas for laundry tubs, scrub boards, clothespins, and wooden hangers. Who says a laundry room has to be dull?

The Bathroom

Give a vintage look to a bathroom with a collection of mustache cups or shaving mugs.

Vintage Bathroom Design Ideas

  • Claw Foot Tub
  • Vintage Mirrors
  • Mustache Cups
  • Shaving Mugs (with brushes and a razor strop)

Note: The video below includes a slideshow of different vintage bathrooms. One of my favorites features a wall of vintage mirrors. I love it! These will give you some amazing suggestions.

It's Hard to Stop!

In this article, I've presented vintage decorating ideas for your home, including the living area, kitchen, bedroom, den, laundry room, and bathroom. Vintage usually includes cabbage roses and calico, along with a lot of "old stuff" (either authentic or copies) and collectibles of some type. I hope these ideas will help you. You are sure to have fun shopping and collecting items for your home. Once you get started, it's hard to stop!

© 2009 Faye Rutledge


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    • profile image

      DebMartin 3 years ago

      I'm not too big on frills, but I love, love, love the vintage stuff. I've inherited a lot of vintage and try to use it as much as possible around my house. I'm especially in love with the colored depression glass.

    • VioletteRose LM profile image

      VioletteRose LM 3 years ago

      I love vintage art and photos. The idea of decorating home with vintage theme sounds wonderful!

    • Mary Crowther profile image

      Mary Crowther 4 years ago from Havre de Grace

      So pretty, I love the look!

    • profile image

      MarcellaCarlton 4 years ago

      Thanks for sharing some unique and thoughtful ideas on vintage decorating! I love them. Nice lens.

    • profile image

      ShelbyLinMarie 4 years ago

      Thank you for the ideas! I adore the flea market/vintage style of decorating.

    • writerkath profile image

      writerkath 4 years ago

      Oh, I am all over this style! I love, love, LOVE it! My house is totally cut out for it too, and you just gave me a couple of really good ideas here! :)

    • profile image

      Ibidii 4 years ago

      My Mom still has a phone from the 80's that does not let you press one for option features. I have tried on all her phones and it does not work. I think it is a 2 wire instead of a four wire house! I love the coffee table with items inside. I saw some on take their Father's [WWI] uniform and decorations like purple heart, and the hat etc. It made a great display. I love the aprons on the wall. I featured my Grandmother's apron and potholders she made in the 50's and 60's. Awesome Lens! :D

    • Cynthia Haltom profile image

      Cynthia Haltom 4 years ago from Diamondhead

      Vintage dcor is my favorite. I like vintage kitchen dcor, tins, bowls and gadgets. I especially like the roller knife sharpeners.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I love decorating with vintage items, especially in my kitchen. I love to collect old aprons, milk glass and vintage cook books.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      What a comfortable homey feel you have created with a vintage style that is ageless. I did a double take on that white dresser because I thought I was in Mom's bedroom. I remember the ladies wearing those aprons when I was growing up and got to thinking of Grandma, Helga, Einee and other ladies with old time names that always had a freshly ironed apron on. Sweetness! :)

    • JeffGilbert profile image

      JeffGilbert 4 years ago

      There's a lot of very nice ideas here. I loved the phones... :) Great lens!!

    • Frischy profile image

      Frischy 4 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      I especially love the pretty bedroom!

    • profile image

      Aunt-Mollie 5 years ago

      I love the Hoosier cabinet. I think it would be perfect in a breakfast nook.

    • mommycapri profile image

      mommycapri 5 years ago

      Those tin signs are adorable! Gives me so many new ideas for my own home. Thank you for sharing!

    • KayeSI profile image

      KayeSI 5 years ago

      What lovely ideas! I especially loved the cabbage rose goodies. And that bedroom trellis backboard! Too adorable. Thank you.

    • profile image

      antoniow 5 years ago

      Fantastic lens, Squidlike!

    • profile image

      bagelmanmarc 5 years ago

      Great idea for a lens and very nicely executed. Nice work.

    • Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 5 years ago from Concord VA

      @randomthings lm: Thanks, randomthings, for your visit and comment. Vintage decorating is so much fun! The hunt for unique items is the best part. This ideas are limitless.

    • randomthings lm profile image

      randomthings lm 5 years ago

      Very cool ideas. I'm thinking of redecorating my living room...but needed some inspiration. This helps.

    • MrMojo01 profile image

      MrMojo01 5 years ago

      Some good ideas here!!

    • Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 5 years ago from Concord VA

      @anonymous: Thanks for your visit and comment. I'm glad these decorating ideas were helpful to you. :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      This is a wonderful lens with many great ideas. I especially appreciate the money saving tips. Thanks.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Vintage look bedroom has an air of sophistication, looks elegant and classy.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Vintage look bedroom has an air of sophistication, looks elegant and classy.

    • CherylsArt profile image

      Cheryl Paton 5 years ago from West Virginia

      Lots of nice ideas for a vintage look. I made a lens on Scroll Wedding Invitations, another idea of vintage designs. Then the newlyweds can come here to choose their décor. : )

    • Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 5 years ago from Concord VA

      @dellgirl: dellgirl, thanks so much for your visit and comment. I'm glad you liked these vintage decorating ideas.

    • profile image

      dellgirl 5 years ago

      Thanks for sharing these gorgeous 'Ideas for Decorating Your Home in Vintage Style'. They are absolutely beautiful!

    • Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 5 years ago from Concord VA

      @ClassyGals: ClassyGals, Thanks so much for your visit, comment, and blessing!!

    • ClassyGals profile image

      Cynthia Davis 5 years ago from Pittsburgh

      I love decorating with vintage pieces, the vintage rose prints are especially lovely. Angel Blessings**

    • glenbrook profile image

      glenbrook 5 years ago

      One way to give your den a vintage look is to replace your phone with a vintage rotary dial phone.

    • WhiteOak50 profile image

      WhiteOak50 5 years ago

      Just stopping by to let you know that I have featured this page on my new: Decorating with Irises lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Very lovely vintage decorating ideas!

    • flicker lm profile image

      flicker lm 5 years ago

      Love those vintage tin signs! Nice article.

    • jolou profile image

      jolou 5 years ago

      Another lovely lens. What a great idea to feature those aprons! Some people are very creative.

    • profile image

      nursecraft 5 years ago

      I like the idea of decoating with a vintage theme! Nice lens!

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 6 years ago

      I love decorating with a sort of vintage cottage chic look.

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 6 years ago

      Nice decorating ideas! I have a very eclectic decorating theme in our house, a bit Shabby Chic and Vintage, mostly European style.

    • profile image

      MintySea 6 years ago

      very cool, vintage can be very green as well and save money

    • Kandy O profile image

      Kandy O 6 years ago

      I'm doing my kitchen in a vintage theme and this lens just made me more excited for it!

    • pangaloon profile image

      pangaloon 6 years ago

      I am so in love with vintage themed rooms. It is so easy to achieve on a small budget too. I often rummage through carboot sales to get bargains. Great lens too.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Love this Lens!

    • christabel2 profile image

      Christabel 6 years ago from UK

      Great info. Good to know. Thx

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      very interesting lens. thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I love this lens. We bought a cottage in 2 acres of woods last year and are still decorating it. Thank you for the ideas! Bookmarked.

    • robinrags profile image

      robinrags 6 years ago

      Very nice idea for a lens

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 6 years ago from Central Florida

      I would feel quite comfy in a nostalgic room like these, but my husband just thinks "clutter." Still I manage to sneak in some vintage touches.

    • theonlineanswer profile image

      theonlineanswer 6 years ago

      Great resource for vintage décor.

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 6 years ago from Land of Aloha

      A little bit of vintage is great mixed in with newer décor. One of my friends used a few old vintage aprons as a valance in her kitchen.

    • phoenix arizona f profile image

      phoenix arizona f 6 years ago

      Vintage isn't my thing, but these things were pretty cool.

    • LiquidGranite1 profile image

      LiquidGranite1 6 years ago

      I like the "old" decorating idea in kitchen. It's like a personal touch.

    • profile image

      pacevedo1968 6 years ago

      Grate ideas and info

    • profile image

      bmarinacci 6 years ago

      We bought a vintage home 4 years ago and are having great fun coming up with "new" old decorating ideas. Your site is full of ideas. I put together vintage pictures on old dictionary pages and am always looking for ideas. I'll scour your pages to learn what the trend is. Thanks for bringing in so many ideas.

    • bames24 lm profile image

      bames24 lm 6 years ago

      great designs...^_^

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image

      June Parker 6 years ago from New York

      I love vintage. Many of my cooking tools are now considered vintage and many of them came from my mother who is 90 years old, so I guess they are considered antiques now. Occasionally one will break (they don't last forever, but 60 sometimes plus years is a pretty darn good run for the money. So many of these old kitchen tools work so much better than modern ones that I scour garage sales, consignment shops, etc. looking for replacements if I have lost one to old age. Nice lens - it's right up my alley.

    • MamaBelle profile image

      Francis Luxford 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Love vintage art and design! Great lens.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I love anything vintage. I thought I had that as my theme in my old home. Just love them but had to let them go.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I love anything vintage. I thought I had that as my theme in my old home. Just love them but had to let them go.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Vintage collections do make a room or home more relaxing with a look of peaceful retreat. Great tips especially on the kitchen for those who cherish vintage décor.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I grew up in the 60's and 70's but my surroundings were more 30's to 50's and now in the modern millennium I miss my childhood memories. Your lens is fabulous, it gave me such a warm feeling.

    • desilegend profile image

      desilegend 7 years ago

      Thanks for stopping by. Loved the lens and congrats on getting so many trophies.

    • Mickie Gee profile image

      Mickie Goad 7 years ago

      I love the aprons on the wall!Blessed today by this Squid Angel.

    • profile image

      Obscure_Treasures 7 years ago

      I found lots of useful information, great lens, Thanks!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I am fascinated by vintage things. They are so interesting and always tell a story!

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 7 years ago

      It never stops fascinating me how many people love the old and are able to replace modern things with antiques. Great lens. Blessed and featured on Sprinkled with Stardust

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      I have lensrolled you on my Rosie the Riveter lens! Great job :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Great lens. I've found ir really interesting.By the way, I've just found this blog on similar topic, it's about antique glass bottles It seems pretty good.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Very cool ideas! I've lensrolled you to my Vintage Magazine Ads and my Decorating 1950s Living room lens.