Sunday, 10 June 2012

"Vintage" Home Decor on a Budget

Vintage is a word that can be attached to anything including your home decor style.  I live in a Victorian house with my husband and our style could be described as "vintage" but it's just an ecclectic mix of everything that we like from Victorian to mid-Century to Simon's ultra modern TV and speaker set!  But decorating your home with "vintage" pieces needn't cost you a fortune, most of our furniture has come from thrift/charity shops, eBay or has been passed around the family.  I am the first to admit that our house is far from perfect, nor have we finished decorating it, and you may not like our style but I thought I'd share some of the things we have learnt on our forays into thrifting our home decor, something we started doing initially because we couldn't find what we wanted in mainstream stores, it quickly developed into almost the only way we shop for furniture.

Reproduction vintage style Chesterfield sofa and armchair in tartan from Emmaus in Colchester for £30 for the set (including a footstool)
1- Potential: Don't dismiss soft furniture out of hand if the colour/pattern isn't to your usual taste.  If it is cheap enough, and the frame is solid it may still be good value to reupholster it.  Or like with the tartan sofa set above it may not look "quite" so garish when you get it home.  

The same goes for all furniture- can you strip it, paint it, varnish or even remodel it?  Always decide if it's worth the effort and money first though- you don't want an ugly piece staring you in the face for twenty years because you don't have the funds or inclination to fix it up.

2- Accessories can change the feel of something.  The cushions from our sofa suite softened the bold pink of our Victorian window seat below and coincidentally they were a perfect match.  Without really meaning to it all came together, and most things you are drawn to will naturally work together.

Victorian window seat in a soft pink, sourced form eBay.  Slightly more expensive at £150- it was a perfect fit for our window,
so although I didn't like the colour I liked the style and the size.

3- Buy it fast: First rule of thrifting: do not sleep on it.  I know this basically sounds like the recipe to running up a huge overdraft (as since a girl I remember it being drummed into me not to rush into purchases), but it does save you money in the long run.  When it comes to thrift shops if you don't buy it there and then the likelihood is that if it's that good it'll be gone by the time you go back, this often  results in endless purchases of things which don't quite live up to that first find.  We missed several wardrobes for this very reason.  

4- Plan: In light of the above carry a list with you with dimensions of spaces you need to fill for key furniture pieces, then you will never be caught out.


5- Multi-Purpose: However having said that, quite often if I have a strong liking for something but no idea how or where it fits in our home, I buy it...then work out how I'll use it later! That sounds stupid but my vintage cake stand became a perfect storage tray for my hundreds of beads and bracelets. Similarly we have two early twentieth century butler sinks in use as herb gardens... my attempt at using our old cast iron Victorian toilet cistern as a garden feature was not so successful- so you can't always get it right!

6- Mix it up: There was once a school of thought that everything has to match. It doesn't.  Even things that don't match can look right together.  Our dresser in the kitchen in the image below was actually a sideboard and a dresser top bought from another piece.  Luck fitted them together.  Similarly our dining chairs (below left) are not part of a set and have come from table to table with us, and they always fit.



7- Details can make all the difference to the look of your home. A mid-century tablecloth, or a couple of rustic kitchen utensils can be enough to add character to a room.

After years of expensive and ultimately useless pepper pots we
finally found ones that work: Rustic salt and pepper cellars, thrifted
for 50p each.   

8- The most important tip of all.  Thrifted, family heirloom or brand new- if you like it who cares what anyone else thinks it's your home and decorate it how you like... one person's idea of rubbish could be another's idea of perfection.


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