Classic design doesn’t have to be boring. In fact, many modern style elements can blend well with vintage pieces, resulting in fresh and dynamic home decor. Here are a few tried-and-true strategies for how to mix the old with the new.
1. Start with a neutral color palette
Mixing vintage and modern design can sometimes look haphazard. However, good eclectic home decor looks rich, rather than chaotic, when it is paired with a neutral color palette. Far from boring, a neutral foundation acts like a blank canvas that balances a mix of styles without becoming overwhelming. To accomplish this, first choose a fresh white, enigmatic gray or studious brown color for the walls, flooring and large pieces of furniture. Look to Benjamin Moore’s colonial paint collection for inspiration, such as Williamsburg Stone for walls or Capitol White for trim.
2. Establish a focal point
A harmonious room also begins with a strong focal point. Browse local estate sales and historic homes for a sense of what particular pieces inspire you. Classic shapes and styles like a mahogany china hutch or classic bed frame can lend a sense of history to a modern room. Mimic the 19th-century industrial style and anchor a bedroom with an iron frame like the Hamilton Iron Bed from Humble Abode. Or choose a large, planked dining table in a distressed finish from Pottery Barn as a central focus for a room full of antique china. Once the focal piece is established, other accent pieces and artwork can be added, such as brass lamps, sculpted side tables or an oversized painting.
3. Invest in quality textiles
Nothing evokes vintage charm like luxurious textiles. Start with floor-to-ceiling drapes. (Remember Scarlett’s drapes in “Gone with the Wind”?) Hang long curtains above the window trim and allow them to skim the floor or pool slightly. Keep the look updated with curtains in a light color and simple design, like The Shade Store’s white cotton grommet drapery. Continue to soften the room by investing in elegant velvet throw pillows, or re-cover a sofa in a sophisticated houndstooth pattern.
4. Maintain a unifying theme
Successful design that marries the old with the new also maintains a unifying theme or pattern. For example, a gallery wall using unique vintage frames in different finishes looks intentionally pulled together if each piece of framed artwork is a picture of a landscape. A collection of ceramics can accomplish a similar sense of harmony. Also try repeating unexpected colors, like the rust color from a floral painting on a throw pillow. This repetition of motifs helps the room maintain a layered and cozy look.
5. Employ old-world architectural elements
One way to blend new and vintage decor is to employ classic architectural elements, like thick moulding and elaborate trim. New beadboard wainscoting, crown moulding, baseboards and ceiling medallions can be purchased from most home improvement centers and installed on a weekend. In the mood for a long-term investment? Try replacing current flooring with new rustic-looking ceramic wood-inspired tiles, like those from BuildDirect, for a sophisticated update on the classic hardwood floor.