25 Ways to Bring Vintage Flair to Your Outdoor Living Space

rustic red barn
Photo: Erica George Dines

Vintage treasures, salvage scores, and flea market finds aren't just for interior decorating. Bring these pieces outside to create comfortable outdoor spaces that reflect your personal style. Here are ideas to help you outfit your space with a one-of-a-kind look.

01 of 25

Boho-Style Porch Accessories

bohemian porch with privacy screen and rich colors
Ann VanderWiel Wilde / The Wilde Project

Boho style and vintage finds often go hand-in-hand. Blend this eclectic vision into your outdoor space by searching for vintage decor with unique woven details, along with antique furnishings in rich colors and finishes. For an unexpected twist, incorporate interesting elements usually reserved for the indoors, such as an ornate folding screen and delicate macrame hangings, into your outdoor decorating.

02 of 25

Retro Outdoor Seating

small deck table with umbrella hanging flowerpots and yellow vintage chairs
Kimberly Gavin

Painted metal lawn chairs (just like Grandma and Granddad's outdoor seating) remain sentimental favorites that blast us back to simpler times. Find original vintage versions at sales, antique shops, and internet auction sites. Reproduction options are seasonally available at home centers and discount stores. Complete the retro look with an antique iron table and a freestanding umbrella.

03 of 25

Vintage Porch Furniture

porch with eclectic mix of furniture
David A. Land

Relegate antique furnishings that are too worn for interior use to the porch. For pieces that are especially dated-looking, consider reupholstering with waterproof outdoor fabric, or repainting the base to give it a fresh look. Arrange the furniture to encourage conversation, then complete the space with an indoor-outdoor rug and a coffee table to hold drinks.

04 of 25

Architectural Salvage Room

open air rustic living room
Robert Brinson

No outdoor living space? You can construct an open-air entertaining and relaxation station from architectural salvage. Build a framework that will support a tin or fabric ceiling, as well as walls crafted from old shutters, doors, and windows. Cushion the nest by hanging drapery panels, throwing down vibrant area rugs, and fashioning a pillow-plumped daybed from a twin-size mattress set atop upside-down clay pots.

05 of 25

Outdoor Bar Cart

storage bar cart with lemonade on front porch
Marty Baldwin

Use a vintage cart to create a mobile drink station you can wheel out to your porch or patio. If you have an older piece that's showing its age, a new coat of paint can quickly refresh the finish. Stock the cart with glassware and your favorite beverage fixings. A wire basket on a lower shelf organizes loose items.

06 of 25

Decorating with Vintage Finds

rustic red outdoor furniture
John Noltner

Think of ways to move your favorite finds to center stage. Modernize vintage metal chairs with a vivid paint color that shows up against verdant backdrops and mimics a painted detail on your home. Pair the pieces with vintage red wagons playfully packed with an array of potted plants.

07 of 25

Mix of Vintage and New

outdoor fireplace
Matthew Benson

Make sure outdoor spaces furnished in flea-market finds stay in tune with their surroundings. Opt for an organic palette, worn wood finishes, and metal accents that gain interesting patinas with age. This textural grouping of old, new, and handcrafted furnishings takes its color cues from the stone fireplace and its moss-stained mantel, where vintage lanterns and flowerpots contribute sculptural silhouettes and worn patinas to the nature-inspired mix.

08 of 25

Vintage Sign Display

rustic red barn
Erica George Dines

Consider this clever idea for the outdoor version of a gallery wall. Express your personality by decorating an outbuilding or porch wall with meaningful signage. On this structure, vintage advertising signs, outdated license plates, and road signs combine to fashion an eye-catching exhibit that reflects the homeowners' travels and interests.

09 of 25

Pick Things with Patina

home exterior deck
David Tsay

Touched-by-time finishes, whether on farm tables, stepladders, birdhouses, or garden gear, are essential components of flea market style. These aged patinas (often caused by exposure to wind, rain, and sun) work well in outdoor spaces. Use stepladders as trellises, exhibit old birdhouses as lawn art, or employ vintage vessels as charming planters.

10 of 25

Designate Outdoor Rooms

patio with draped cabana style fabric
Edmund Barr

Put up walls crafted of lattice, fabric, or iron to define an outdoor room. Walls create a sense of enclosure, and, most importantly for the collector, provide backgrounds for displaying cool things. This tented gazebo showcases an arrangement of vintage wicker, captivating fabrics, and accessories, such as a tree-trunk table and the framed painting over the wicker loveseat.

11 of 25

Carry Inside Comforts Out

Porch with flowers in colored jars
Matthew Benson

Think of your porch as an outdoor great room that can accommodate sitting, dining, and display. Hang vintage mirrors to reflect the landscape, lay area rugs for underfoot warmth, and repurpose flea market tables, shelves, and chairs to handle your storage and display needs. Showcase canning jars, antique pottery, and pretty fabrics to give shabby furniture finishes a lift.

12 of 25

Vintage Coastal Decor

Screen porch-blue walls, green seat
Robert Brinson

Give your porch a beachy vibe by arranging tag-sale wicker refreshed with white paint alongside old and new pieces in a palette of tropical sea, sky, and citrus shades. Hang wall decor that ties into your coastal theme. Energize the view with colorful marine figures and nubby striped textiles.

13 of 25

Outdoor Dining Area

porch picnic table
Andre Baranowski

Alfresco dining offers pleasures aplenty, including fresh breezes, starlit skies, and passing wildlife. But fresh-air meals ascend to celebratory status when served on finely dressed tables. Kraft paper, newspaper place mats, black-and-white dishes, and shiny cans filled with blooms formalize an ordinary picnic table, which is lit by a candelabra crafted from a garage-sale tray.

14 of 25

Refresh Vintage Outdoor Furniture

porch outdoor furniture living space
Emily Followill

Even the most battered and diversely styled curbside finds take on a more refined, coordinated look when updated with paint. When you want extra-special results, grab a can of metallic silver, gold, bronze, or copper spray paint to give end tables, chair frames, bookcases, and table bases an unexpected glow. Before you spray, be sure to clean, sand, and prime to-be-painted surfaces to ensure a successful outcome.

15 of 25

Salvaged Outdoor Seating

porch with landscaping
Jeff Herr

Outfit porches and patios with seating that's guaranteed to kick-start conversations. Invite people to stay awhile by hanging an old-fashioned swing made cushy with an antique quilt and colorful pillows. Place salvaged theater or stadium seats where they can be appreciated by passersby and used as front-row seats for watching neighborhood doings.

16 of 25

Modern and Retro Outdoor Furniture

patio with sofa and table
Anthony Masterson

Antique doesn't have to look old-fashioned. Use unexpected paint colors to give flea market wicker chairs, rattan settees, and metal lawn chairs a more contemporary feel. Layer in modern furnishings, geometric area rugs, and a mix of retro and refined fabrics to fashion an eclectic outdoor room that pays tribute to the past while accommodating present-day needs and flea market finds.

17 of 25

Global Outdoor Design

conversation seating
Brie Williams

Transport your outdoor living spaces to far-off lands using an array of globally influenced treasures. Look for furniture, fabrics, and accessories that have Asian profiles, Mideastern motifs, French panache, or Tuscan character. Anchor conversation groupings with a painted trunk that evokes images of sea travel. Arrange tropical foliage in oversize vintage urns to reference exotic ports of call.

18 of 25

DIY Pallet Planter

Repurpose inexpensive materials into eye-catching displays for your favorite plants. For this project, all you need is a wood pallet, landscape fabric, and a few DIY skills. Learn how to turn a castoff pallet into a work of outdoor art using these how-to tips.

19 of 25

Vintage Metal Accents

outdoor seating
Edmund Barr

Consider the style you wish to achieve and search out metal accents that complement that specific look. Here, black iron lanterns and a wall-mounted iron grid partner with Mediterranean-style copper chairs to create a Spanish attitude, which suits this outdoor nook's rustic beams and tile floors. If you prefer something more modern, look for midcentury modern accessories in chrome, stainless steel, and aluminum.

20 of 25

Outdoor Rope Hammock

patio pergola with a hammock
Erica George Dines

Maximize a pergola's purpose by making it a base for naps. Cap the structure with lattice panels to create a shade-providing framework that you can use to support an old-fashioned rope hammock. Decorate with hanging planters, dangling copper stars, antique lanterns, or a collection of prismatic crystals.

21 of 25

Alfresco Bathing Station

outdoor clawfoot bathtub
James Carriere

Fashion a spa-like sanctuary in a private corner abutting your home. Have a plumber install pipes to carry water through a showerhead and a vintage faucet that can be used to fill a footed tub. Underscore the space's pampering purpose by adding an antique garden chair, a shelf to hold toiletries and candles, and a repurposed bookcase equipped with iron baskets to hold bath towels.

22 of 25

Vintage Patterns

screen porch with hanging seating
Robert Brinson

Look to your vintage fabric remnants, collection of pretty printed hankies, or bolts of outdoor textiles with period-apt patterns to establish a color scheme for your outdoor room. You can use bark cloths, splashy oilcloths, and ticking fabrics to cover cushions, pillows, and tabletops. To round out your design, display hand-painted trays and serving pieces with nostalgic motifs.

23 of 25

Farmhouse-Style Outdoor Decor

outdoor chicken decor
John Bessler

Mount a thematic exhibit accented in plants to create interest outside your home, garage, or shed. Group like-minded treasures around a beat-up table that will look even finer after further weathering. This homeowner, who has a penchant for rural references, combines fowl figures and graphic signage to compose a farmhouse vignette.

24 of 25

Repurpose Printed Materials

patio with wooden seating
Karla Conrad

When shopping flea markets, antiques shops, and tag sales, keep your eyes open for bags, crates, and containers bearing their original labels or printed graphics. Burlap sacks once used to hold coffee beans, animal feed, or seeds for planting make noteworthy chair covers. Boxes, including colorfully stickered fruit crates and ink-stamped wooden beer cases, can stylishly stack up as bases for patio tables, serving bars, and storage shelves.

25 of 25

Accentuate Every Corner

garden shed
Brie Williams

Arrange shapely antique urns and oversized pots as garden centerpieces and to mark entry points to pathways, sheds, and outdoor rooms. You can also give no-frills outbuildings an eye-pleasing presence by painting shutters, doors, and woodwork so they stand out from the siding. Adorn shed walls with whimsical plaques, birdfeeders, and planting boxes spilling over with vines and colorful blossoms.

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