How I Layer Vintage Pieces with Modern Decor

One of my favorite ways of adding soul to a space is by layering in beautiful vintage finds. This creates a unique look with lots of personality that’s not another carbon copy from a catalog. Many of my clients are intimidated by the process of how to layer vintage with modern decor, which is totally understandable – go too heavy on the antiques and it could look stuffy or cluttered, mix in elements that don’t work together and the whole room is off-balance.

There is no need to donate your grandparent’s hand-me-down furniture or styling pieces – with a bit of planning ahead, you can create a look that is timeless and that most certainly has a great story behind it, which I love. Here are some of my favorite ways to bring in antiques and layer them into my designs.

Styling Shelves with Antique Pottery, Old Books and Woven Baskets

Open shelving in a modern-rustic kitchen with vintage frame, bowls and decor.
Design: K. Peterson Design | Photo by: Poppi Photography

These open shelves from my English Hill West project are the perfect backdrop for layering found pieces. I found this adorable vintage frame in a local antique shop; it was literally hanging on the wall BEHIND a shelf, I spotted the corner of it, and started digging! The frame has just a hint of wood and the colors of the small watercolor painting were neutral and warm, I fell in love and picked it right up. 

I love to layer bowls on books so I used the client’s own cookbook to bring in a pop of green and give a little height to the bowl. I also scored this cool copper bowl. It actually has a ring to hang it from a hook, but for this application, I loved seeing that beautiful copper base to bring in a metal element. 

Bringing in Vintage Rugs

A vintage rug styled on a balcony.
Designed by PapernStitch Blog / Photo by Amelia Lawrence

The beautiful thing about vintage rugs is that they’re made with quality materials (not mass-produced in factories) and are durable, often lasting for generations. I have usually placed them as a runner in kitchens and hallways, but I love the unexpected touch of adding it to a balcony as seen here – it makes the space so much more inviting!

How to Layer Vintage in a Living Room: Antique Tables

A rustic, drop-leaf antique table in a neutral living room.
Photo by: Lincoln Barbour via Country Living Magazine

Bringing in an antique table, like this rustic drop-leaf one adds interest to an otherwise crisp and clean sitting nook. Antique tables make wonderful statement pieces whether they’re acting as coffee tables, end tables, or even kitchen islands. Here, this table brings a bit of texture into this area and ties together nicely with the other organic elements.

Antique Mirrors

Antique mirrors can really add a touch of glamour to a room. I love how they styled it here with an ultra-modern chair and vanity table with lucite finishes. This is a LOT more feminine than what I usually go for, but here it just works.

Vintage Dressers

A vintage dresser in a master bedroom.
Design + Photo by The Grit and Polish

Vintage dressers are more versatile than you think – you can use them as a bathroom vanity, a desk, or as they were intended – in a bedroom. I love how every nick and scratch on this dresser adds to its character – you can just tell it has lived a storied life!

Where To Buy Antique Furniture and Decor

A vintage bathtub and bathroom vanity in a bright, white bathroom.
Design and Photo by Emily Netz

Half of the fun of sourcing vintage is the hunt for the perfect item to bring in a great story to a living space. If you don’t know where to begin, look in consignment shops, flea markets, estate sales, auctions, antique stores, and online (I like browsing Chairish) or even eBay. Although shopping for antiques takes longer than buying something new, it is worth it for the quality of the materials and the craftsmanship alone. An added bonus is how layering in these pieces with your modern decor makes your home uniquely you.

Do you shop for vintage items for your home? Share your favorite place to find treasures below.

  1. […] really makes the place setting pop. I’m always drawn to neutral colors and anything with a vintage-modern twist, so I’ve curated a collection of Thanksgiving tablescapes photos that resonated with my […]

  2. […] & Co. is one of my favorite places to source antiques for clients. With an ever-changing and curated selection, the owner Dawn Oscar and her husband even refurbish […]

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