Decorating with Vintage Finds
The Vintage Home
Building this 1,865-square-foot home on a comparatively meager budget meant being creative with everything from resources to decoration. The home's barnlike form gains an industrial edge, tempered with skewed angles and a playful palette of materials: concrete, exposed conduit, corrugated metal, and beams made from bonded wood fiber.
The Style Palette
Neutral furniture provides a good backdrop for the interesting shapes, colors, and textures of vintage finds, which are ecologically and aesthetically pleasing. Salvage shops offer furniture and accessories that run the gamut of interior styles, usually with a local emphasis. Another style tip: In a home with an open floor plan, painting a single wall allows you to add color without worrying about where one hue ends and another begins.
Well-Loved, Not Old
The homeowner found these old cabin doors on eBay, then added the painted diamonds and a coat of varnish. (Be careful to seal anything that might contain lead paint; testing kits are available at hardware stores.)
This "frozen filets" sign was a roadside find, complete with the wire grid it's attached to. The whole structure was hung on the wall with simple screw-in wall hooks.
The Funny Additions
The whole idea behind this contemporary cottage look is to glorify thrift and elevate everyday objects to the status of art, like these quirky thrift-store dolls. The pine shelves are constructed from dimensional lumber.
Improvisation enlivens the interior at every turn. The kitchen cabinets are old art-supply cupboards from an area middle school. (Turn over a drawer and you can still find wads of gum.) The laminate countertops are trimmed with aluminum carpet-tacking strips, and the graphic backsplash is made from fragments of a vintage sign that fell off the homeowner's truck on the way home from a thrift store.
Bring Your Friends
An old rubber puppet head adorns the kitchen sink, which was purchased for $300 at a salvage shop. When buying a vintage sink, count the holes -- they determine the type of faucet you can use and whether you can have a separate sprayer.
When a beloved vintage sign fell off the homeowners' truck and shattered on the highway, they had a quick-witted cabinetmaker turn the fragments into a backsplash.
Art Is Everywhere
Use It As Is
If you're choosing vintage, don't try to hide the object's past, whether it's the graffiti and gum on old school cabinets or the stenciling on the gym bleachers used here for seating around the dining room table.
Vintage in Action
The homeowner's favorite find is this bedroom door, which they mounted on a track like a barn door. The decal touts Dr. Swett's Early American Root Beer.
Jolts of red, green, orange, and blue invigorate the rooms without overwhelming them or upstaging the owners' collections. A bold splash of red heats up the master bedroom. When the bargain cast-iron bed proved too short for its mattress, a welder made new side rails for $15. A square of Plexiglas hides the fact that the outlet cover is too small to conceal the junction box.
Through the Looking Glass
A vintage window makes a stylish substitute for a transom in the passageway between the entry hall and the living room. Old windows are easily found and can be used to add architecture where it might be missing, or even to serve as affordable art.
Like signs, colorful old board games satisfy a love of graphics and are generally affordable. This vintage Chinese checkers board was $5 at a local antiques shop.
See more ideas for vintage decorating.
Every Corner Used
A Space Just for Little Ones
This child-size crafts table was fashioned from leftover lumber. Baskets keep art supplies and dress-up accessories organized but close at hand.
Kids Like It Bright
Brightly painted pegboard keeps favorite outfits at hand for convenient playtime.
In the second-floor bathroom, a $5 sink rests atop an old school storage cabinet. Letters filling a missing shelf remind users to "brush your teeth." The house derives much of its character from its wealth of details: Old signs, game boards used as artwork, and endearingly quirky collections, such as a bunch of Santas in this bathroom and a collection of Pez candy dispensers in a bedroom.
Tack On Greeters
Vintage paper dolls set against a bright red-painted door welcome guests to the bathroom. The homeowner found the dolls on eBay -- similar ones can still be found on the site for less than $5.
Sweet Talkin' Collectibles
Both homeowners have an affinity for Pez candy dispensers. Together, they have almost every Pez dispenser ever made. Even common items make a collective impression when displayed in a group.