How to Use Antiques and Vintage Pieces

Updated: Sep 1, 2020

Back when I lived in the Midwest, I would go thrifting all the time - antique stores, flea markets, estate sales, you name it. Being in the heartland of America, antiques are pretty popular in decor, as that shabby chic/farmhouse aesthetic pretty much IS the Midwest.

Moving out of the rural cornfields to an urban city, I still LOVE using antiques and thrifted finds with my clients and in my designs. While thrifted and antique pieces get commonly associated with traditional, rustic, or farmhouse aesthetics, you'd be surprised to know that you can thrift ANY style (the trending Midcentury Modern style wasinspired by the 1950s after all).

Some transformations take a little bit more love, but you're going to love it when you magickally make any thrift find work in you space.

Fun Paint

thrifted furniture seattle designer
A fresh coat of paint makes any piece POP

It's amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do. It has the ability to transform an old forgotten piece into the show stopper in any room. Best part about painting a thrifted piece is that it can blend into any interior style.

Reupholster in a Fresh Fabric

Seattle thrifted furniture designer
This cheerful fabric makes this chesterfield

Similar to a new coat of paint, a new fabric can instantly update a soft seating piece . Depending on the condition of the item, you might need some additional cushioning as well, but it can be worth the investment when you have a WOW seat to call your throne. Since these older chairs and sofas tend to have better built frames than today's furniture store options, you'll have it for years to come.

Create a Moody Gallery Wall

thrifted furniture seattle
Old frames give this gallery a curated look

The whole point of a gallery wall isfor it to be a little eclectic, so why not have your frames do all the heavy work? Bonus if you find some random wall hanging decor such as porcelain plates or vintage taxidermy.

Vintage Rug

seattle thrift store furniture
You can't go wrong with an oriental rug

Okay, so this maybe a splurge, but it's so worth it! Antique rugs are typically made of wool (not polyester) so it's a natural product. Plus wool is great for our indoor air quality,  it's a good insulator, and it's flame retardant. Not that you're looking to become an arsonist, but you know how those drunk dinner parties with candles can get.

Mix and Match Dining Chairs

seattle thrifted furniture
Mix and match chairs are a fun add to a dining table

If you're like me, you might have a habit of collecting old dining chairs. These classic pieces go great mixed and matched together. It creates this subtle eclectic vibe, giving some personality and charm to your space. Bistro chairs, Windsor chairs, Wishbone chairs, and Ladderbacks are all classic chair styles that play nicely with each other.

Embrace the Natural Beauty

seattle thrifted design
This glass display has all the old charm

If it works with your design style, sometimes you don't even need to do anything to that antique piece. I find that there is a natural beauty to an old piece. Those dings, scratches and dents all tell a story. I've even made a few of my own since owning some, making my own mark on its history.

New Uses for Old Things

seattle thrift store design
These salvaged windows make for a great headboard

Depending on your style, you can really get creative in thrifted objects. Now there is a fine line between tasteful and tacky, so use these finds more sparingly to be safe. Some common ways to reinvent old pieces are by using cups, pitchers, and bowls as ways to display and hold items, both decorative and functional.

Create an Eclectic Vignette

seattle thrifted interior design
This display is layered perfection!

If you have a knack for styling, then thrifting ceramics and dishes are for you. Display your finds in hutches or open shelves to create eye catching vignettes. Even if you're not the best at pairing items, a good place to start sourcing dishes is by choosing one color and finding items that fit the bill. For me, it's white. Not just because white goes with everything, but it's great for food styling too!

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