Vintage modern style is all about blending old and new – pairing antique, inherited, or thrifted pieces with more modern elements for an eclectic, curated look. This style often features heirlooms, hand-me-downs, and found items as focal points, with sleeker accents to update the aesthetic. The key is infusing heritage charm into a fresh interior design scheme.

The Appeal of Vintage Modern Style

Vintage modern interiors have gained major popularity in recent years. There are several reasons this look resonates with many homeowners and designers:

  • Sustainability – Repurposing antiques and vintage goods is eco-friendly. Breathing new life into existing pieces saves them from landfills.
  • Cost-effective – Hunting thrift shops and estate sales for unique treasures is an affordable way to decorate. Older goods often feature better craftsmanship than newer mass-produced items.
  • Charm – There’s an undeniable appeal to antique and vintage pieces. The patina, craftsmanship, and history add character.
  • Customized look – Mixing old and new allows you to curate a customized interior that reflects your tastes. No two vintage modern homes look the same.
  • Modern functionality – Incorporating modern pieces ensures the space functions for contemporary living. The blend of eras creates a livable, updated look.

Incorporating Heirlooms

One hallmark of vintage modern is showcasing heirloom antiques, particularly family treasures. Here are tips for featuring heirlooms in a modern way:

  • Spotlight heirloom furniture as the focal point. For example, make a Victorian sofa the living room’s centerpiece. Mix in midcentury modern end tables and minimalist lighting for contrast.
  • Display heirloom accessories, like silver trays or crystal decanters, on sleek shelves or in curio cabinets to elevate the items.
  • Repurpose heirloom textiles. An antique quilt looks modern draped over a chair or as throw pillow accents. Vintage embroidery and linens can be made into wall art.
  • Create vignettes displaying passed-down items together. Group a relative’s silver tea set on a vintage tray, for instance.
  • Update heirloom furniture with new finishes, fabrics, or hardware for a modern twist.
  • Incorporate heirloom art and photography by hanging in contemporary frames or on gallery walls.

Finding Treasures: Flea Markets, Thrifting, & Upcycling

Beyond heirlooms, vintage modern interiors usually contain found antiques, unique thrift store discoveries, or upcycled pieces. Some tips for finding and using items with heritage charm:

  • Regularly visit flea markets and thrift shops in search of potential treasures, like mismatched china for an eclectic gallery wall.
  • Look for quality secondhand furniture that can be refinished, reupholstered, or given updated hardware. Vintage wood furniture often has superior craftsmanship compared to new budget pieces.
  • Rescue and repair damaged or outdated antiques to give them new life. For example, brighten a vintage dresser with chalk paint.
  • Upcycle unusual finds. Turn an old window frame into a mirror, vintage luggage into a side table, or a retro TV into a plant stand.
  • Mix natural materials like wood, wicker, terra cotta, and stone with more modern textures like steel, glass, and concrete for contrast. The blend feels current.
  • Repurpose salvaged materials. Use reclaimed wood beams to create an accent wall or dingy vintage factory carts as kitchen islands.

Let your creativity run wild transforming old into new again!

Creating Modern Vignettes

A key to achieving a cohesive vintage modern look is thoughtfully blending eras and aesthetics through vignettes – grouped arrangements of items that share a theme. Some vignette tips:

  • Create cozy reading nooks with a vintage armchair or sofa, patterned throw blanket, antique stacked books or trunk as a side table, and modern angular floor lamp.
  • Build a vintage-inspired bar cart with a refinished midcentury cart, pretty glassware, and modern leather accessories.
  • Display kitchenware together on open shelving. Mix white china, worn enameled pieces, and sleek metal containers.
  • Arrange collected items like clocks, scales, cameras, typewriters, and scientific tools on multi-layered floating shelves.
  • Construct an eclectic gallery wall showcasing antique paintings and photography alongside repurposed vintage frames and mirrors.

The key is to think about how old and new elements interact – an heirloom Oriental rug can ground modern furniture, for example. Repeat colors and textures to tie the look together across eras.

Achieving Balance in Vintage Modern Style

Editing and restraint are important when blending vintage and modern. A space can easily become cluttered or feel disjointed. Stick to these tips:

  • Select a few anchor antiques or heirlooms to take center stage as focal points. Resist overcrowding a room.
  • Neutral backdrops like white walls, concrete floors, and clean-lined furniture allow the antiques to shine.
  • Incorporate plenty of empty space between pieces to keep the look airy.
  • Limit patterns and colors. Opt for a muted color palette accented by metallics and wood tones.
  • Use decorative objects sparingly. Keep surfaces like mantles and shelves somewhat sparse.
  • Cluster your favorite collectibles into thoughtfully styled vignettes instead of scattering them about.
  • Ensure lighting feels bright and contemporary, even if fixtures have vintage shapes. Dim lighting makes spaces feel cluttered fast.

The Takeaway

Done right, vintage modern style hits the sweet spot between old and new. With curated heirlooms and found items paired with modern elements, you can create a home brimming with heritage charm and livable functionality. Thoughtfully blend eras and aesthetics by following vintage modern decorating principles. Soon you’ll have a comfortable, eco-friendly space reflecting your personal design sensibilities and family history. What timeless treasures will you feature?


What are some good places to find antiques and vintage items?

Some top places to hunt for potential vintage modern treasures include:

  • Flea markets
  • Estate sales and estate auctions
  • Thrift stores and consignment shops
  • Antique shops and antique malls
  • Architectural salvage yards
  • Auction houses
  • Garage and yard sales
  • Online sites like eBay, Etsy, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and more

How do you modernize an heirloom piece?

Some simple ways to give an heirloom antique or vintage furniture find a modern twist include:

  • Refinishing the wood with a trendy hue like dark, matte black stain or white wash
  • Reupholstering with contemporary fabrics and trims
  • Swapping out old hardware for sleek metal pulls and knobs
  • Painting with on-trend colors like sage green, light blue, or soft pink
  • Adding a bold wallpapered inlay inside a bookcase or cabinet
  • Topping with modern materials like concrete, marble, or brushed brass

What are good paint colors for achieving a vintage modern look?

Some top paint color choices for vintage modern style interiors include:

  • Soft whites – Creates an airy neutral backdrop for antiques to shine
  • Light and medium greys – Cool and modern but still muted enough for vintage pieces
  • Dusty blues – Pretty accent shade that contrasts well with wood tones
  • Moss greens – Earthy and peaceful, beautiful with natural textures
  • Soft pinks – Feminine yet modern, especially as an antique furniture accent
  • Charcoal – Striking and modern on trims and walls as an anchor

In general, muted and slightly desaturated hues work best for ensuring a serene, blended aesthetic.

How do you mix metal finishes in a vintage modern space?

It’s best to stick to 1-2 metal finishes in a room to keep the look cohesive. Using too many competing metals makes spaces feel cluttered and disjointed. Some foolproof mix-and-match options include:

  • Brushed brass + blackened steel
  • Polished nickel + antique bronze
  • Oiled bronze + brushed brass
  • Chrome + matte black metal
  • Brushed gold + smoked silver
  • Gilded gold + muted copper

Black metal finishes work especially well for a modern edge. Just make sure to repeat finishes in lighting, hardware, accents, and more.

What are good rooms for highlighting a vintage modern style?

Some of the best rooms in a home for implementing a curated vintage modern design scheme include:

  • Living Room – An heirloom rug and antiques feel grounded by sleek seating, sculptural lighting, and contemporary art.
  • Dining Room – A reclaimed wood table and retro buffet are accentuated with glossy black Windsor chairs and modern chandelier.
  • Bedrooms – Vintage textiles and bed frames pop against crisp white bedding and contemporary nightstands.
  • Kitchen – Open shelving displays a mix of new sculptural cookware and vintage plates and teacups.
  • Home Office – An antique desk and Eames leather chair are paired with a Noguchi paper lamp and modern technology.

In general, main living spaces where you’ll entertain and relax provide the perfect backdrop for infusing old and new.

What are some good vintage modern color combinations?

Some pleasing vintage modern color palettes to consider include:

  • Black, white, wood tones, and brass metallics
  • Soft grey walls, white trim, and black accents
  • Sage green, light wood, terra cotta, and linen
  • Robin’s egg blue with antique brass and distressed wood
  • Soft pink, charcoal, marble, and gold accents
  • Cream, navy blue, oak, and aged bronze

In general, opt for muted, lighter wall colors with black or wood accents for a cohesive blend. Add in metallics like brass, copper, or nickel in accessories for sheen.


Vintage modern style makes spaces sing by blending old and new in thoughtful ways. There are so many possibilities for infusing family heirlooms, antiques, thrifted treasures, and upcycled pieces into contemporary interiors with livable functionality. The mix of eras and materials makes for a one-of-a-kind home brimming with heritage and history. With the right principles of balance and editing, you can curate a comfortable, eco-friendly vintage modern abode reflecting your personal aesthetics and treasures from the past. This timeless, sustainable approach to decorating creates rich interiors sure to delight for years to come. What vintage pieces will you spotlight in your modern home?