Charmingly old-fashioned, quirky, and individualistic, casual yet a bit romantic, versatile, and budget-friendly: That’s the beauty of a room decorated with vintage finds. It’s a far-reaching style that makes it easy to show off creativity, and it can’t be contained to one simple definition. But in general, vintage style means decorating with furnishings, fabrics, accessories, and colors that were popular decades back—in particular, the styles of the 1940s and 1950s. Technically, however, the term “vintage” refers to any item that is more than 20 years old, but less than 100. Vintage items are those associated with nostalgia, but which are not yet antiques.
Here are some tips and ideas for decorating bedrooms with vintage finds.
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Paint Your Vintage Finds
You'll soon find that when it comes to vintage furnishings, paint can be your best friend. Even if a vintage piece is scuffed or stained, it's easy to give it a makeover with a bright new coat of colorful paint, as seen here in the lovely turquoise bedside dresser from Margot Austin.Continue to 2 of 24 below.
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Color and Pattern in Vintage Decor
Although there is no hard-and-fast vintage color scheme, you’ll generally find that the vintage palette is soft in intensity, uses a lot of creamy white, and gets colorful with mint or moss green, pink, soft blue, palest lavender or buttery yellow. This isn’t the decorating style for dark colors, intense brights, too much beige or brown, or earth tones.
Mixing patterns is another vintage must, especially florals or other botanicals, birds and butterflies, or scenes of idyllic 1940s or 1950s life.Continue to 3 of 24 below.
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Finding Vintage Items
You’re not going to find authentic vintage pieces at your local big-box furniture store. Instead, think of it as a hunt; you’re looking for affordable furnishings that have been well-loved through the decades. Your best bet are places like flea markets, secondhand stores, antique malls and shops, Craigslist, or even garage sales.
This country charmer bedroom is from the vintage-loving blog Aiken House & Gardens.Continue to 4 of 24 below.
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Add Something Unexpected
Because vintage finds are outside the typical contemporary mass-produced items you’ll find in most decorating stores, it’s fun to play up the period style by doing something unexpected in your room. This bedroom shows off the owner’s whimsy with a collection of vintage fans on a shelf added up high for this very purpose. Is there something you love or collect? Spotlight it in a similar fashion. Old globes, vintage ceramic dogs or cats, glove forms, hats, dolls… whatever makes you smile when you see it.Continue to 5 of 24 below.
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Vintage pieces are one-of-a-kind, as are you. So when it comes to decorating your bedroom, get creative. This isn’t the style for matched furniture, predictable décor, or following the rules. Instead, use a folding chair as a bedside table, lean an old shutter against the wall and adorn it with a vintage calendar, or set a pretty mirror on the floor. Or do something completely different; it’s up to you. The only rule when decorating with vintage furnishings is to use your creativity.Continue to 6 of 24 below.
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Instead of a traditional headboard, why not use a vintage fireplace surround, as in this wonderful bedroom from Jennifer Grey Interiors? Or fake the look with a new surround painted to look old.Continue to 7 of 24 below.
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Mix Old and New Furnishings
Decorating with vintage finds doesn’t mean that everything in your bedroom has to be old. In fact, it can be a bit overwhelming to decorate with nothing but period pieces. Instead, mix a few vintage accessories or furniture with new items. This bedroom, for example, makes good use of a pair of lovely vintage nightstands and a pair of old suitcases given new life with a coat of bright blue paint. The bedding, however, is new, although it has a vintage feel thanks to the chenille throw blanket. And the wonderful floral wallpaper is a celebration of vintage style, even though it’s a brand-new pattern.Continue to 8 of 24 below.
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For the True Enthusiast, Vintage All the Way
Most people will simply add a few touches of vintage decor to their bedroom, but if you really love the style, why not take it all the way? What a lovely way to create a relaxed and highly feminine retreat. So pretty.Continue to 9 of 24 below.
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One of the hallmarks of vintage décor is a reliance on repurposed items to add to the fun, while also helping to keep decorating costs down. The room shown here does both beautifully by showcasing framed vintage handkerchiefs in place of a headboard, along with the wildly creative use of drums in place of traditional nightstands. Let your mind run wild; you can repurpose just about anything if you’re imaginative enough.Continue to 10 of 24 below.
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Toss on Some Vintage Throw Pillows
A bed piled high with vintage throw pillows looks so cozy and welcoming. This lovely bedroom is from the all-things-vintage blog Aiken House & Gardens. Look for vintage pillows on Etsy or Ebay.Continue to 11 of 24 below.
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Go Ahead and DIY
One of the most fun aspects of vintage décor is how well it lends itself to a wide range of DIY projects. Case in point, the bedroom shown here. That funky headboard? It’s heavy cardboard cut into the desired shape and then covered with wallpaper. The pretty jewelry display on the wall? That’s as easy as using a paper lace doily as a stencil to create the romantic design, then screwing a variety of vintage hooks into the mix to hold jewelry, scarves, vintage clothing, or whatever else you fancy.Continue to 12 of 24 below.
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Show off a Vintage Treasure
If you're lucky enough to find (or inherit) a gorgeous vintage piece of furniture, such as the bed shown here, display it to its best advantage with a simple color scheme and a wallpapered accent wall that adds more vintage style to the room.Continue to 13 of 24 below.
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Using Vintage Finds in a Small Bedroom
Wondering how to decorate that tiny attic bedroom? Furnish it with vintage finds, cover the walls with cheery wallpaper that has a vintage feel, top the bed with vintage-inspired bedding, and voila! An airy, cute and welcoming space. Note the repurposed stepladder used as an end table.Continue to 14 of 24 below.
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Using Vintage Bedding
It's hard to match the charm of genuine vintage bedding. You can sometimes find textile treasures at thrift stores or antique shops, or online through Etsy or Ebay. Keep in mind, however, that vintage fabric is delicate, so you'll need to take extra care with decades-old bedding.Continue to 15 of 24 below.
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Using Bright Color
Decorating in vintage style doesn't mean you can't get colorful. Case in point: this cheerful bedroom makes happy use of mostly primary hues for a wonderfully upbeat look.Continue to 16 of 24 below.
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Vintage Meets Glamor
When you choose vintage furniture designed in a glamorous style, such as Hollywood Regency, your bedroom takes on a sophisticated, expensive and movie-star-from-the-40s elegance.Continue to 17 of 24 below.
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Strive for Sweet Serenity
By choosing a soft color scheme and adding interest with just one or two slightly brighter accent colors, you'll create a tranquil feel in your vintage bedroom.Continue to 18 of 24 below.
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Not Only for Women
While many bedrooms decorated with vintage pieces have a decidedly feminine flair, the style isn’t limited to the ladies. Stick with a quiet palette of mossy green and soft tan, and the room takes on a tranquil, gender-neutral vibe that would please just about any man—or any woman, for that matter. The wonderful rustic headboard shown here was made from a repurposed vintage door by Vintage Headboards.Continue to 19 of 24 below.
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DIY Wall Treatments
Because decorating with vintage finds means furnishings are often a bit ragged, mismatched, or in need of a bit of love, the style lends itself particularly well to DIY projects, such as the wall covered with old shutters shown here. Let your imagination run wild!Continue to 20 of 24 below.
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Vintage Tropical Touches
The Hawaiian-inspired accents in this vintage bedroom from Bella Mancini Designs add a dash of fun to the space. Tropical and Hawaiian motifs were a popular look in the 1950s.Continue to 21 of 24 below.
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Introduce Vintage to Rustic Style
The vintage style works well with many other decorating themes, including rustic. In this lovely bedroom from Marianne Songbird, a rustic wooden headboard takes on a tinge of sweetness when strung with fairy lights and matched with vintage bedding.Continue to 22 of 24 below.
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Vintage Style, Coastal Version
Using just a few vintage pieces in a room is a great way to add character without going overboard. In this coastal-influenced bedroom from designer Phoebe Howard, a vintage wooden bed and rug help create a soothing vibe.Continue to 23 of 24 below.
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Include a Sitting Area With Vintage Seat
Every bedroom deserves a comfortable sitting area, even if it is only a chair tucked in the corner. But this lovely vintage sitting spot from designer Emily Henderson does it right. Even in an overall contemporary setting, a vintage chair is an excellent choice.Continue to 24 of 24 below.
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Send Vintage Style to the Loft
Think industrial, minimalist, or highly contemporary are your only choices when decorating a converted loft, or a rugged space with exposed brick walls? Then take a look at the lovely vintage bedroom shown here. Vintage style is a great way to soften a space that might otherwise be cold and uncomfortable.