How to Decorate Vintage Style
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.
Decorating Tips for the Living Area
In the 30s and 40s, cabbage roses and calico prints were the going thing. 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
- 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 for Vintage Items
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
- Grandma's Attic
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.
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
Tin bread boxes
Salt glazed pottery
Red enamel canister sets
Iron frying pans
Salt & Pepper shakers
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 . 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. Hoosier Cabinets
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.
Vintage linens, featherbeds, antique lamps, and women's hats are a few ideas for your bedroom.
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.
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.
- Eiderdown comforters
- Chenille Bedspread
- 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.
- Doilies on the dresser and chest
- Bowl and pitcher
- Baby cradle with antique doll
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
Vintage toys and games, collectibles, and old tin signs are fun ideas for a den.
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
- 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?
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!
Questions & Answers
© 2009 Faye Rutledge