The DIY Designer: Tips for mixing modern and vintage home décor items

Authored By rainonatinroofblog

I suppose if you were to ask me what my signature decorating style is, I would have to say it’s mixing modern with vintage pieces. I tend to lean toward both modern and bold styles, as well as vintage styles (mainly ’60s, ’70s and ’80s) in my home decorating. The tough part, though, is making those pieces all work together in one space. If you have too many modern pieces, your vintage sofa is going to look quite out of place, and vice versa. If you’re a fan of both modern and vintage styles, and love to frequent thrift and antique stores just as much as HomeGoods, these tips might help you bring the two styles together in your home more easily.

Stay in the same color scheme.
Within a room especially, it is important to stay in the same color scheme when mixing two different styles. This keeps everything cohesive.

In the living room at my previous home, my color scheme consisted mainly of black, brown, green, navy and a pop of red coral. The couch was a basic brown leather couch, a more modern style, but I had a stained vintage buffet to help balance that out in the room, too. I also had a vintage black chair in the space balanced by a modern black accent wall. Green and navy accents both new and modern were throughout the space.

Wood tones look great against dark colors.
If you have stained pieces of vintage furniture that are in really great condition, I advise you to keep it stained unless you just know you’re going to love it painted forever. Case in point: I once painted that buffet you see in the image above, then discovered that wood tones looked great against black and ended up stripping and restaining the buffet. If you have a stained piece that you just can’t figure out how to make it work anywhere, try it against a dark sofa or a dark wall. Personally, I don’t think you can ever go wrong with wood tones against black. They also work well against deep reds and greens.

Use pillows.
New pillows can easily bring different styles together. Finding vintage toss pillows in good condition is a rarity. However, finding a vintage couch in good condition isn’t as hard. 

The couch in my new living room is a vintage beauty from The Refindery downtown. To even out the mix of other modern décor pieces in the room, I accessorized the couch with new palm print and leopard print pillows.

Update the hardware.
In my previous kitchen, we kept the old cabinets but painted them. But even after painting them, they still had a somewhat-old look.

I needed to bring a touch of modern to them in order to make them flow well with the rest of the room. To do that, I switched out the cabinet pulls and knobs with more modern ones. This can easily be done to pieces of furniture as well.

Balance it out.
Finally, another key to successfully mixing modern and vintage pieces in your home décor is to have a relatively equal number of both modern and vintage pieces in a room. In our new dining room, we have a vintage chandelier, plus a vintage dining table and chairs.

To keep it from being too vintage, I hung a piece of modern oversized art on the wall and placed a new rug beneath the table. 


Do you have any tips for mixing modern and vintage pieces? 

Jenna LaFevor rants on at Rain on a Tin Roof about DIY projects, junk décor, thrifty finds, crafty creations and other decorating dilemmas. She went to UTC, where she got a teaching degree that now collects dust. When she isn’t trying to keep her kid from climbing out of the circus ring or making sure her husband’s shirts are taken to the dry cleaners so she gets out of ironing, she can be found with a paintbrush in one hand and a cheap beer in the other. But if you’re buying, she’ll have a cosmopolitan. You can email her at [email protected] or you can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter @raintinroofblog or at her blog. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.