Interior inspirations ~ Mixing modern with vintage

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The phrase ‘vintage modern’ has been floating around the vernacular for the last few years, but what exactly does it mean?  It is basically the combination of both modern and vintage styles to achieve a look that is new and fresh without seeming old and worn.  It is an extremely popular aesthetic, and it is often harder to achieve than it might originally appear.

The quirky and bohemian appeal of modern vintage takes a good eye, plenty of bravery, and a good sense of humour.  This look is often eye-catching and provocative; however, the home could end up looking like a junk shop downtown if it is done incorrectly.  How is the successful mix of modern and vintage achieved?

Modern sofa in a vintage living room by Helene Schjerbeck

Modern vintage seems to work only through the proper balance of unexpected pairings.  It is not really a prescribed look but more of an approach to decorating.  What this means is that when there is a vintage piece, there should be something modern not far away from it.  A perfect example is to purchase a modern sofa and add a little soul by throwing on some pillows made from vintage fabrics.  The key is to personalise and customise the space by incorporating personality into the mix.

There are many ways to achieve a modern vintage look.  Everything from handmade cushions and dyed doilies to painting new furniture with leftover paint can be incorporated into the mix of old and new to make the home feel more vintage.  Integrating industrial pieces into the home is also a fun way to do this.  Why not put some pendant lights over an old farmhouse table surrounded by modern seating?  This gives a unique feel to the room, and also a balance of old and new.

Divine vintage dining table with modern chairs by Cocoon Moon

Go ahead and harness the power of textiles.  Decorating is all about texture, colour, and emotion; try to seek out special fabrics to create something extra special.  Vintage textiles, such as the dyed doilies mentioned earlier, can give modern and contemporary furniture a softer look; however, it is also effective to go the opposite way and use modern textiles on antique furniture.  A chaise sofa could be upholstered with a modern fabric with a brightly coloured pattern, for example, and the wooden legs could be painted in an eye-popping lacquer.

It is a good idea to buy bigger pieces new when working towards the modern vintage look, as these pieces can take quite a beating in a busy household.  This does not mean that an investment in an antique sofa or other piece of furniture should not be made, but do so with caution and keep an eye on the quality.  The key is to be unafraid and take chances – this approach can be incredibly rewarding when decorating the home.

Blending modern and vintage décor can be ultra sophisticated or a hotchpotch of confusion, so be careful and remember that the goal is to create an interesting juxtaposition of styles while making the home warm and welcoming.


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Cassie is a freelance writer with a Masters degree in lifestyle promotion studies. She loves to 'get the look for less' so regularly shares thrifty fashion posts, DIY interior design ideas and low-cost recipes on her blog.

2 thoughts on “Interior inspirations ~ Mixing modern with vintage

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