If you’re the type who loves combing through flea markets and estate sales for eclectic treasures, there’s probably little doubt that your ideal home design is vintage chic. By repurposing old pieces and giving them a new life in a fresh design, vintage chic – also known as boho or flea market style - is a look that is always one-of-a-kind and deeply reflective of the owner’s personality and taste.
But putting the look together means more than just scattering all of your prize garage sale finds around the house. Some design basics should come into play, says Jeanne Connolly of Vintage Renewal. As a freelance interior re-designer, photo shoot stylist, and home stager, Jeanne helps people in the Denver, Colorado area create unique spaces with renewed vintage treasures. She often includes pieces she redesigns herself with a signature funky, modern style of mixing and matching textures and patterns to create an uncommon work of art.
To start a vintage chic design look, she recommends first finding an “anchor piece.” It can be a painting or a pattern on a sofa. “The giveaway is it will probably be the loudest thing in the room!” Then pull all the colors from there.
In a recent project, Jeanne had a painting with pinks, blues and browns that became her anchor piece. She paired it with a bright pink vintage sofa to create a striking focal point.
Bringing Together the Vintage Chic Design
From there, after anchoring the room, she says to build the look with layers and texture. “I found a striped rug with a cohesive color theme. The pattern wasn’t much of a concern because you can play with patterns as long as they are in the same color family.”
If you’re not sure how to work with color, she suggests going to a nearby paint store and picking up swatches of the colors from your anchor piece. This will allow you to see the lighter and darker versions of the colors and splash those into your look to get more variety.
With the pink couch and rug in place, she added one of her playful redesigned chairs and layered in pillows that again, played off the colors and created texture. “Pillows are easy because they’re non-committal, you can easily change them out!”
She says to keep building until the room feels interesting. “Try putting a blanket over the sofa, then a sheepskin over just one arm.”
Avoiding Clutter When You Display Vintage Collections
Vintage shoppers often find they love their collections so much, it’s hard to know when to stop putting it all on display. But there is a limit before a room becomes cluttered and overwhelming. Jeanne who is a self-described “creative hoarder” knows the experience all too well. She advises to always keep the functionality of the room in mind and to rotate items in and out to keep it feeling fresh. Instead of continuing to shop, you also might be surprised to find that using pieces you already own in a new way will provide the same joy as bringing new ones in!
Jeanne knows, however, that people like her who love vintage chic style do tend to love the thrill of the hunt and are always picking up new finds. To manage it all, she suggests getting a storage space or getting comfortable selling on Craig’s List or eBay so you can get rid of things as you bring new items in.
Shopping to Create Your Vintage Look
Whether you are redesigning a space in vintage chic or looking to add to your existing collection of treasures, here are some tips for shopping for your next great find:
Be Inspired – Pinterest is a great way to get ideas for creating a vintage chic look. Key search terms include “vintage chic”, “vintage eclectic”, “bohemian chic”, and “flea market style.”
Where to Go – Check local listings and community postings for events such as estate sales, flea markets and garage sales or search online on Craig’s List and eBay.
Know the Goal – To avoid bringing in excess items, ask yourself, “Am I going to use this?” Unless you plan on building an inventory for reselling vintage furniture, be sure to have a need in mind, such as finding a dresser to create more storage in the mudroom. Don’t forget to take measurements!
Be an Early Bird – Generally the good stuff flies out of flea markets, garage and estate sales early so set your alarm for the wee hours if you plan to shop those one-off events. If you’re not a morning person, opt for local antique stores or shopping online instead.
Inspect Carefully – Look for signs of bugs or irreparable damage. Rock chairs back and forth, open drawers and doors to see if the structure has been compromised.
Boost Your Skill Set – When you do bring home those items that need some TLC, it helps to know simple skills like gluing wood, reupholstering chair cushions, painting and staining. Finding a trusted restorer nearby is also research that can pay off over time.
Above all, make your vintage chic look all yours. Enjoy the process of changing things around and decorate with what you love!
Photos by Christine Dirkschneider Ballard courtesy of Vintage Renewal.