My goal in these articles is to teach you how to take a concept or passion and give it a high-end twist. I also want to keep you on your toes as to what you are going to do next with your newly found objects! Let’s make it look like a designer designed your home and incorporated items you loved.
By Jennifer Bertrand
Obviously, if you are reading this article, you discovered this magazine because you, too, have a love for objects that have past lives. I am here to inspire you to think of vintage items in new and unexpected ways.
We’ll start off simply; I may be pointing out the obvious to some of you. However, it’s best to address it all and really try to simplify the concepts. Because here’s the thing: In design, when you love vintage, you could easily become the crazy person whose whole house looks like a flea market.
My goal in these articles is to teach you how to take a concept or passion and give it a high-end twist. I also want to keep you on your toes as to what you are going to do next with your newly found objects! Let’s make it look like a designer designed your home and incorporated items you loved. Your home may be filled to the brim with cool things, but perhaps you have no clue how to make them flow and not look themed or junky. Or, maybe you need to be re-inspired because you need a fresh change. Or, maybe you just need to challenge yourself to take your home design to the next level. Whatever the reason, get excited because you will stare at your home with fresh eyeballs after this!
When adding a retro piece…
1. You can mix styles.
Your retro table can have modern chairs or vice versa. It actually makes for an interesting mix when you push and pull styles throughout a space or home.
With traditional design, keep in mind that a simple piece of furniture like a Mid-Century Modern piece can add a “calm in the storm” feel to a room. If everything starts to feel heavy or too fussy, you might surprise yourself by liking the simplicity of a MCM piece. I think often it’s just that the word modern is in there and that can throw people off. When really, I want you to challenge yourself to bring in one element that is unexpected.
If you adore contemporary design, then try adding a piece of furniture that has a softer, weathered aesthetic. It can add soul to a space, which is often needed when everything is sleek and modern.
Coastal design is taking the world by storm right now! This design is all about textures. Picture bare feet, rolled-up pants, walking on weathered wood floors, carrying a basket of … oh, okay, it’s not quite that picture perfect, but it is all about a feeling of being relaxed and a happenstance of textures. The color palette of coastal is the expected whites, blues of all tones, grays, khakis and tribal patterns thrown in there. However, coastal can evolve into whatever you want it to be! Just keep in mind, you never want to be kitschy coastal. You know, when only decoraing with boat oars and nautical stuff. (If you are looking around and seeing you did that, I give you a design hug and it’s all good. If it makes you happy, then that’s great, too!) However, imagine a retro piece of furniture painted in a high gloss indigo and then brought into your bedroom or dining room and antique brass hardware added—it could be a showstopper!
2. Try to make it personal.
Think of fun, family stories of your childhood or your partner’s childhood and do a simple kickback to it. Perhaps you use actual toys from your childhood on the bookshelf. Or, perhaps vintage board games as wall art that remind you of happy times. Or, what if it’s even photos of you as kids blown up as massive art with vintage color tones that remind your kids that you were once kids too! Often we forget we can turn those images into poster sizes and buy the RIBBA poster frame from IKEA and voilá! Instant affordable art that has meaning.
3. Make it fun and have a sense of humor.
You don’t have to be crazy everywhere, but design doesn’t have to be super serious all of the time either. For example, as a kid I always did Jane Fonda videos with my mom. I grew up thinking that Jane Fonda’s burgundy and purple leotard was the absolute coolest thing of all time. So, if I had a workout room in my home (which I don’t, but wish I did), I could hang vintage Jane Fonda photos in a large scale grouping … perhaps 16-20 IKEA frames filled with vintage images that will inspire me to work out and laugh at the great hair and great memories of leg lifts with my mom.
4. Find retro pieces and turn them into art!
Having original art in your home is something that I don’t see people do enough. Often they get as crazy as a large scale wall grouping of images, but that’s it. Instead, start scouring vintage stores for items (or one massive item!) you can hang on the wall in large groups. Really and truly, that is the easiest way to make your house unique and fun.
So, on that note, the next time you are scouring a flea market, I want you to think, Jen said I have to challenge myself on one element … what will that be? And use hashtag #jblovesdesign on all social media so I can see what you do!!
Have fun and happy designing to you!
Jennifer Bertrand is the winner of HGTV’s show “Design Star” season three and cohost of “Real Life Design” on cravingtalkradio.com. She resides in Weatherby Lake, MO, with her lovely English husband, Chris, and her happy son, Winston. She has big plans in life to conquer the design world … again.