The words vintage décor and vintage design ideas evoke the feeling of nostalgia, with many reminiscing of sweeter times, 1940’s glamour, and homes that have gorgeous eclectic make-do and mend furniture.
Nowadays most of us associate vintage with anything that's, well for s better phrase old. Every generation to baby boomers to millennials will have a different idea of vintage. The connection between age and vintage doesn't really tell the whole story.
In fact every era is beautiful in its own way and style, 1940’s for example incorporates luscious fabrics, inviting colours, and an original blend of elements.
Instead of going for a perfect ‘finished’ style, vintage home décor has based much of its appeal on mixing and matching looks, styles, and pieces.
So without further ado, here's our comprehensive list of 51 amazing vintage, retro interior design ideas to help inspire your next project.
This blog was originally published on 01/04/2016 and updated on 27/07/2021
Vintage Design Styles: Key Features
While vintage home décor revolves around rick, luscious elements, layering and surprising combinations, interior designers have been able to incorporate vintage design into homes that still have a modern look. The foundation of vintage design is:
• Incorporating 1940’s or 1950’s furniture pieces
• A rich, regal, layered look
• Choose jewel tones and light colours (chalky shades are also welcome)
• Interspersing antique furniture pieces (including Victorian and French-style pieces) with contemporary ones
• Choosing feminine silhouettes
• Opting for elements that boast intricate detailing and finishes
• Using luxurious fabrics for pillows, curtains, upholstery, etc. (florals and jacquards are excellent, paisleys, folk and ethnic motifs are also a choice)
• Choosing appropriate lighting (embellished lamps and, for the daring, crystal chandeliers)
• Sufficient decorative accents and art
Vintage Homes: Comfortable and Charming
It goes without saying that it’s up to you to take a house and turn it into a home. But budget constraints (especially for newlywed couples) often limit creativity.
Luckily, adorning your home with vintage pieces and decorations will solve both decorating and budget issues. It will also ensure that your home exudes charm and elegance.
1. The Old and the New in Perfect Equilibrium
Vintage ideas are everywhere and if you find it overwhelming, do not worry, you don't have to make the whole room vintage in its design try just using a few elements or accessories.
In fact, sometimes, it’s much better to just incorporate sporadic elements that help capture a specific feeling without going overboard. If you’ve chosen a contemporary sofa, decide on vintage house decor that adds key accents.
A statement lamp, an antique glass-fronted cabinet, an absolutely stunning mirror or a vintage-style coffee table are enough to turn a dull living room into an inviting place.
2. Downplayed Elegance
Space is a vintage designer's best friend, so if you have the luxury of space and don’t have to worry about fitting your sofa into a tiny living room, your possibilities are endless. Feel free to use the fireplace as the centre-element and position any furniture and decoration pieces around it.
When placed cleverly, elements such as log holders, and fireside sets become part of the ensemble. Don’t fear incorporating other vintage and antique decorations, mirrors and side tables.
3. Side Tables and Cabinets
Vintage hallways set a beautiful statement to anyone walking in the the home, use vintage decorations, antique shelves, and cabinets are great pieces for hallways and entrance foyers. This foyer, for instance, features an antique cabinet just underneath the staircase.
Atop this cabinet, a beautiful painting helps polish the look of the room, though you may also choose to cluster smaller framed paintings for a similar effect. A beautiful lamp and two antique candlestick holders frame the painting.
4. Earth tones and Gold
When used in moderation, gold-painted vintage décor elements are classy and elegant. Ideally, these elements should be the statement pieces of the room, so downplay the rest of the furniture and fabrics. Also, make sure that the room seems spacious enough (in the above example, two vintage armchairs work much better than a massive sofa would have).
The earthy and warm tones of the colour scheme complement the two wooden cabinets and a small coffee table perfectly, while the artwork on the walls is modest enough to allow for the golden-framed centrepiece to stand out. In smaller rooms, choose a radial wall mirror with golden accents to give the illusion of a larger room.
5. Vintage Eclectic
There are some vintage design solutions that aren’t suitable for the faint-hearted. This all-white room, for instance, boasts mirrors, chairs and tables with intricate detailing. The white sofa is just as luxurious as the rest of the room, with its floral patterns and luxurious fabrics.
Some vintage designs can take people aback looking messy and dated, they are not for the faint hearted. This all-white room however balances these elements with ease, for instance, boasts mirrors, chairs and tables with intricate detailing. The white sofa is just as luxurious as the rest of the room, with its floral patterns and luxurious fabrics.
6. Sweet Pastels
Continuing our all-white theme, here’s a living room with vintage elements. The elegant chandelier as well as the two armchairs work great with the more modern furniture elements in the room. The coffee table ties everything together. If you’re not a fan of monochrome designs, opt for a rustic coffee table and substitute the artwork with gold-twisted picture frames.
7. A Bed Fit for a Princess
Choosing to incorporate vintage bedroom décor in your own bedroom or in one of the guest chambers is a great idea. For one, the room will look completely different from the rest of your house. You can go over the top with luxurious fabrics or keep the decorations low key and opt for vintage bedside tables and a pair of elegant table lamps.
8. Pastels Again
Pastel colours are excellent because they work together with most furniture and decoration pieces adding beautiful and subtle tones. Take this hallway, for example: aside from the breath-taking wallpaper and the cleverly chosen, symmetrical art-pieces, there’s only an armchair and a side table. Faux potted plants and flowers are enough to give this entryway a certain edge.
9. Showcasing a Statement Piece
There are times when you simply hit the proverbial jackpot when it comes to antique or vintage pieces. So it would be counterproductive to hide its beauty among other equally impressive elements.
Instead, choose to turn it into the show-stopping piece that you know it is. Vintage room décor is all about knowing when to highlight an eccentric piece, such as this sofa. So decide to ensure that the room has perfect lighting (we love floor lamps since they can be used perfectly for such means) and avoid overcrowding.
10. Modern Vintage Interior Design ideas
Combining vintage style can be tricky, but If you’re careful about choosing the right vintage pieces, you can be sure that they’ll fit into a modern home. You can opt for vintage lighting (in the form of chandeliers or table lamps) or reserve a section of the room for a tea-table set. If space is an issue, choose a side table instead. For modern vintage living room ideas, it is important to find the right balance and combinations.
11. Face to Face
If you want to use colour schemes that aren't traditionally ‘vintage’ then an eye for detail is paramount, try using lighter hues, such as turquoise, light pink and peach.
Candlestick holders, cleverly placed candles, luxurious cushions and other vintage ornaments will turn a simple room into a spectacular one.
12. Don’t Be Afraid of Going Overboard
Certain circumstances call for breaking the rules. While there’s no definitive answer for what is too much, our recommendation is that you only go overboard with one design element.
For instance, if you choose to incorporate a multitude of fabrics and textures, avoid multiple colour pallets. Instead, choose neutral tones. On the other hand, if you wish to have a colour-filled room, avoid multiple furniture pieces, different textures and different patterns.
13. Heaven Designed for Two
There’s nothing sweeter than enjoying hot chocolate while sitting near the fireplace together with that special someone. That’s exactly what this living room was designed for. Of course, perfect symmetry doesn’t have to be your main concern with retro living room ideas.
You can opt for an array of mirror designs instead of the massive mirror, or simply choose artwork. The great thing about such a low-key colour pallet is that your rug options are endless. So get creative!
14. Sweet and Feminine
Traditionally vintage décor is all about feminine silhouettes and masculine colours, but try mixing it up to suit your style with feminine colours (or at least its modern adaptations). All-white walls and a generous amount of natural light work great with peach- and pink tones, as well as other pastels.
Moreover, since the holiday season is fast approaching, you can always choose to replace a mirror or a painting hanging atop the fireplace with an elegant Christmas wreath or incorporate lots of other Christmas decorations.
15. Highlighting a Baby Grand
This vintage room flows together perfectly, its antique flow boasts a soft, warm and inviting colour scheme packed with charm.
16. Elegant Study
This study is the epitome of the perfect mixture between modern furniture and rejuvenated antique furniture. Again, using table lamps and lamp shades to achieve the perfect lighting conditions and showcasing cleverly-chosen vintage decorations will really turn this room into a splendid place to spend your afternoons.
17. Cosy and Chic
A personal touch goes a long way, especially when decorating a home. If you have some time on your hands and are talented, you can incorporate your handiwork into curtains, sofa holsters and cushions.
18. Vintage Kitchen Decor
Vintage furniture and design can work in every room of the house including the kitchen. Of course, you’ll be skipping luxurious materials here, but you can more than make up for that in lighting fixtures and ceiling lights.
19. Vintage Bathroom
Of course, the idea of a vintage style bathtub is enough to have any woman daydreaming for hours. But if that’s not possible, there are still countless options for you to consider. Stools and pouffes are excellent, as are side tables.
20. Solutions for Tiny Homes
image credit: Gatsby's List
Newlyweds are often faced with the problem of not having enough space in their home. But even under difficult circumstances, you can make a room work. Consider choosing scooped chairs or velvet armchairs instead of a large sofa to maximize space.
21. Faint Vintage Influences
image credit: InAweofGod’sCreation
Sometimes, a vintage floor lamp or an antique side table is all that you need in a room.
22. In the Name of Comfort
image credit: Steven Bennett
Aside from the elegance of vintage décor, comfort is an essential part of the equation, so don’t forget to think about decorative cushions and even fur throws.
23. Original Placement
image credit: Gatsby's List
Choosing to place your furniture in original ways can give your room a great edge. Bedside tables can sometimes double as coffee tables and vintage desks can serve as living room tables, provided that they are properly decorated.
Vintage design encompasses melancholy, romance and originality, so dare to play around and see what works best in the room you have to work with.
24. Bathed in Warm Light
image credit: Gatsby's List
This living room is absolutely stunning, from the symmetry of the sofas (note the floral pattern) to the warm light shining down on the middle of the room and the secluded side table in the background.
If space allows, choose wooden storage wall units that blend seamlessly with the rest of the room.
25. There’s Even a Place for Leather
image credit: Gatsby's List
While leather might not be the first material that springs to mind when thinking of vintage design, when paired carefully, it can work marvellously. We recommend sticking to a dominating colour-scheme and not going overboard with decorations.
26. Spacious Vintage Style Living Room
image credit: Gatsby's List
Vintage elements look superb in large spaces, where you can accommodate chandeliers and clearly separate distinct portions of the room. Cleverly-placed side tables give the room a sense of cohesion.
27. Window to the World
image credit: Steven Bennett
This different angle of the same living room reveals an even better picture of how serene and inviting a vintage-style home can look like. The beige armchair in the background looks perfect for an evening cup of tea and a good, long read.
28. Eccentric Decorations
Porcelain and glass are fabulous additions to vintage rooms especially when the colour scheme permits it.
While you can opt to choose elements that share the same intricacies (note the white table and the fireplace share similar finishing), it isn’t a must.
29. Functional Vintage
If you prefer modern and contemporary but still have an eye for vintage try mixing the two together and just have a few vintage pieces scattered across the room, but even so, they’re sure to be eye-catching and pleasing. A simple table lamp may be enough at times.
30. Searching for the Sun
Many homes lack sufficient amounts of natural light, in which case, we recommend avoiding massive curtains. Choose small pieces of furniture (pouffes, stools or eclectic 2-seaters) so that it doesn’t block the sunlight that does get in.
31. Mum’s Living Room
The ideal living room for many is to look and feel as comfortable and inviting as possible, for everyone, family, friends and guests to enjoy. Vintage design elements are perfect since they come with an intrinsic sense of belonging. Though simple, we really love this down-to-earth living room (in part because of the memories we associate with it).
32. Luxurious Beige and Brown
The colour pallet of this living room is divine. The warm brown of the leather with the beige-tones blend in seamlessly. There are, of course, mild spots of colour (the pillows, curtains, and, of course, the plants).
33. Golden Hues
The gold detail in this room is warm and inviting from the e table lamp to the legs of the armchair and the edges of the coffee table. Of course, to match this detailing, the cushions also have corresponding prints.
34. Simple yet Elegant
Vintage doesnt have to mean luxury or finding long lost relics. At times, you can keep a living room uncluttered and organized while only incorporating must-have items.
35. Piece Everything Together
The great thing about vintage design is that you can mix and match, don't despair if you can't find a furniture set or everything you're looking for from one place. There’s always the possibility of piecing furniture pieces together even if they come in different colour pallets and design.
Another great idea is to buy smaller pieces of furniture and put them together to create the effect of a larger piece.
36. A White and Blue Oasis
The irresistible patterns and textures in this living room are breath-taking but also because of the blue ottoman that brings the entire room together.
37. Cornered into Love
What is there not to love about this corner sofa and the sweet coffee table? This is a simple yet effective design.
38. Focus on Details
This gorgeous forged steel side table is enchanting and could work with absolutely any type of furniture, from vintage armchairs to minimalistic sofas. We also think that the curved floor lamp is a nice touch.
39. Separate Living Spaces
One great thing about vintage style is that you can use it to separate living spaces (for instance the living room from the dining area or the study). Be creative with rug placement as well!
40. Quaint Vintage Corner
Since vintage décor leaves such a lasting impression, you can always choose to greet your guests in an area designed accordingly.
Whether you have a special corner of the room or a study dedicated for receiving guests, make sure to incorporate vintage details.
41. Eccentric Vintage Living Rooms
Sometimes eccentric pieces work the best, especially with vintage designs that are all about nostalgia, you should welcome those in limited amounts. In this case, the glass detailing is that much more striking with an all-white, modestly decorated living room.
42. Splash of Colour
While you strive to follow proper vintage style design etiquette when decorating your home, make sure to leave a bit of room for your personality. If colour represents you best, don’t be afraid to incorporate it as art or colourful details (cushions, flowers, etc.).
43. A Bit of Vintage, Here and There
This mostly contemporary living room does have some vintage elements (for instance, the exquisite coffee table). We also enjoyed the ceiling lights that delineate between the kitchen and the living room.
44. The Old and the New
The balance between old and new in this room is brilliant. Of course, one can’t fail to notice the beautiful hardwood floors, though the antique coffee table and the two armchairs are what caught our attention
45. Sweet, Vintage Bedroom
The wall detailing, the ottoman, the bedside tables, the cabinet as well as the two bedside lamps all give this otherwise lovely bedroom a vintage feel. We recommend a rug for chilly nights.
46. Mirror, Mirror
Vintage mirrors are an excellent way of creating the illusion of spaciousness. If you do struggle with space, make sure to go for light shades (whites, beiges) when choosing furniture, to add to the illusion.
47. Low-key Vintage
Because vintage décor often features feminine silhouettes, men often overlook the potential of a well-chosen piece. Even so, there are great vintage inspirations that men can base their decorating upon.
Whether it’s a forged steel chair they find at a flea market or a quaint coffee table, there’s always a clever way of pairing it with modern pieces. Try merging trends incorporating an industrial look with vintage accents
48. Cigars and Brandy, Anyone?
Luckily, there’s no such thing as too elegant or too symmetrical. Four perfectly aligned armchairs, two corresponding floor lights and the perfect atmosphere for an unforgettable evening.
This symmetrical vintage design is elegant and timeless, the perfectly aligned armchairs make the room look cosy, and two corresponding floor lights are perfect for an unforgettable evening.
49. Use What Works
There are creative ideas to make your home a bit more vintage. For instance, place a children’s chalkboard inside an elegant, antique frame and use it as a message board. Antique toys can also give a unique feel to a room.
The idea is to find what works in a room and dare to experiment.
50. Matching Mirrors
The wall mirrors in this room are versatile and make the room large and spacious. The vintage accents alongside the two table lamps. The effect this creates is that light is amplified giving the room a welcoming atmosphere.
51. Comforting Home
A serene evening spent in a living-room with vintage elements sounds like a dream. This particular living room is the materialization of that dream.
We love the glass table with the steel base and how it heavily contrasts the comfortable feel of the rest of the room.
Image credit: Pixabay (image 1 through 5) Depositphotos (image 5 through 15), Gatsby’s List (images 16 through 19 and 28), InAweofGod’sCreation (Image 21), Steven Bennett (image 22 to 27), Reiner Kraft (Image 29), TijsB (Image 30), FlossyFlotsam (image 31), Max Braun (Image 33), Greg Habermann (image 34), Kerry Ann Dame (Images 35,36,37), Till Westermayer (Image 38), YankeeBarn (image 39), Christian Brothers (Image 40), CrazyMonk (Image 41), Bill Wilson (Images 42 through 45), ILoveMemphis (Image 46), Michael Lehet (Image 47), Roman Boed (Image 48), Ken Mayer (Image 49), Emily May (Image 50), PrayItno (Image 51).
Surprising combinations sometimes offer the best results. That’s precisely what you’ll achieve with vintage design style.
It’s chic, easy to achieve and gives you the freedom of mixing and matching at will. While some pieces can be pristine, others can have spots of peeled-off colour to expose the wood underneath. It all works towards creating that illusion of a rustic flea market.