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How to Create A Vintage Inspired Design with Furniture and Decor

In the last couple of years, vintage and antique furniture and decor have gone from stuffy and outdated to highly coveted and trendy. People are turning to vintage pieces and antiques to infuse their homes with more charm, character, and personality. And many people also love how pieces from decades past offer a more sustainable alternative to buying brand new furniture. These are two of the big reasons why our team loves vintage and antique furniture!

However, depending on where you live and how much time you have to scour for the perfect piece, it can be challenging to source vintage pieces that you really love. After all, ideally, a good vintage or antique item is in good condition (no refinishing required!) while also working with the overall design of your home.

The great news is, there are ways to create a vintage-inspired look without spending months searching for the perfect vintage piece or refinishing something that’s past its glory days. And we’re here to help you find the right vintage interior design style for your home!

80s inspired living room design, photo credit House of Hipsters

Photo credit: House of Hipsters

What’s the difference between vintage and antique furniture?

While some people use the terms “vintage” and “antique” interchangeably, they actually refer to different eras. An antique is generally defined as furniture or decor that’s 100 years old or older. Items are generally considered by antique dealers to be vintage if they’re at least 40 years old. (So, basically things from the 70s and earlier.) However, many people use vintage more liberally to refer to items more than 20 years old—which would encompass items and styles from the 80s and 90s as well. However, while vintage and antique items encompass different eras, they’re both all about adding storied, personality-packed furniture and objects into your home.

Vintage-Inspired Interior Design Styles

There are a number of ways to bring vintage interior design vibes into your home’s design and decor. One way is simply by incorporating antique furniture into modern spaces. This is a great approach for those who have one or two pieces of inherited antique or vintage furniture and want to make use of the pieces without totally reinventing the style of their home.

However, you can also take a more comprehensive approach, incorporating vintage-inspired details in both large furniture and small decorative pieces, creating an overall vintage-inspired vibe in your home. We love this idea for those who want to “go big” with vintage-inspired design. But to pull this off, you first need to figure out what vintage interior design style best suits your home, personal style, and lifestyle needs.

How to Choose the Right Vintage Era for Your Style

There are a number of design styles and trends that naturally lend themselves to a vintage-inspired look.

  • Mid-Century Modern
  • Art Deco
  • 80s Glam
  • New Traditional
  • Bohemian

Each of these design styles have totally different types of vintage vibes—which will impact the overall look of your space. Keep reading for some insights on each of these styles to help figure out which one might be best for you!

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How to Create a Vintage-Inspired Look in Your Own Home

Other than literal vintage and antique furniture, there are a lot of different ways to incorporate vintage-inspired details into your home. In fact, even colors, textures, and finishes can help drive home a vintage vibe! Specific textiles and furniture shapes will further drive home your specific vintage interior design style. Read on to learn more about 5 vintage-inspired design styles, how to bring those vintage vibes into your home, and how to choose which one is right for you!

Mid-Century Modern

Photo credit: Mid-century Modern Interior

Mid-Century Modern design is a style that emerged in the post-war era that was all about relaxing and lounging—in contrast to the more formal styles of previous decades. It’s also a more playful style—featuring bright colors, organic shapes, and slightly whimsical furniture designs. Intrigued? Learn more about the history of Mid-Century design on our podcast!

While mid-century designs went out of vogue in the 80s, the clean lines and approachability of the designs helped it rise back up in popularity, and it remains a highly sought-after design style today.

What to Look For When Shopping

To bring some Mid-Century modern retro style to your home, look for these elements in your furniture and decor.

  • Colors: Primary colors, abstract geometric patterns
  • Furniture: Tapered legs, clean lines, sleek angles, minimal ‘fluff’
  • Textiles: Leather, tweed, wool
  • Finishes: Sleek wood like walnut or teak, with brass accents
  • Decor: Funky pieces, bright colors, functional design

mid-century modern styler breakfast-nook

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Mid-Century Modern is the perfect vintage-inspired style for you if you like…

  • A style that feels approachable and still relevant
  • A more modern and trendy look
  • Decorating with primary colors
  • Clean lines and simple, organic forms

Art Deco

Photo Credit: Burg Island Hotel

Art Deco design first hit the architecture and design worlds in the early 1900s—and it soared to the top of the trend charts in the 1920s. Known for its use of geometric patterns and luxurious materials, this style carries with it a sense of opulence.  Art Deco design has risen and fallen in popularity over the past 100 years—but it had a major resurgence in the 1980s, influencing the 80s Glam look. (More on that next!)

While a full room designed in Art Deco style might feel over-the-top and impractical, there are so many ways to bring moments of Art Deco design into modern spaces. In fact, here are 15 ways our designers are designing with Art Deco influences today.

What to Look For When Shopping

To bring some Art Deco vibes to your home, look for these elements in your furniture and decor.

  • Colors: Bold jewel tones, animal prints, high-contrast color palettes
  • Furniture: Geometric forms, dramatic silhouettes
  • Textiles: Velvet, silk, furs
  • Finishes: Lacquer, painted surfaces, dark wood
  • Decor: Flowers, luxe vases, sculptural objects

Art deci inspired dining room in deep moody blues and greens

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Art Deco is the perfect vintage-inspired style for you if you like…

  • A glamorous, old-world style
  • Metallic finishes—especially gold
  • Your space to feel more formal
  • Repeating patterns and geometric forms
  • Your home to have a feeling of luxury and opulence

80s Glam

Photo credit: Fresca.Living

80s interior design had a penchant for being bold and over the top. It was the decade of the Memphis Design Movement, an obsession with palm leaf prints (hello, Golden Girls!), and a resurgence of Art Deco style. And it’s this Art Deco-inspired 80s glam that’s a perfect way to bring those vintage vibes into your home today. Not as serious and formal as traditional Art Deco, this 80s glam style is all about shiny gold metallic accents and bold pops of color. It’s a fun and over-the-top look that has an almost campy glitzy-ness to it. With that in mind, furniture is designed with bold, curvaceous forms and finished in luxurious materials.

What to Look For When Shopping

To bring some 80s glam moments to your home, look for these elements in your furniture and decor.

  • Colors: Pastels, bold colors punctuating a neutral palette, or a high-contrast black and white palette
  • Furniture: Lucite, marble, curved silhouettes, blocky pieces
  • Textiles: Suede, velvet
  • Finishes: High-gloss lacquer, marble, glass, shiny gold
  • Decor: Sculptural decor, funky pieces

80s inspired minimalist dining room with blush colored velvet chairs

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80s Glam is the perfect vintage-inspired style for you if you like…

  • Glamorous styles
  • Youthful, trendy vibes
  • Bold-yet-streamlined forms
  • The use of pastels and/or bold colors

New Traditional

Photo credit: Unsplash

Both Classic Formal and Traditional interior design styles are deeply rooted in history. Classical interior design draws inspiration from 18th and 19th century England and France. These European influences involve ornate detailing (think: Chippendale furniture) and pieces that are more about looks than comfort. This is a refined, formal style.

Traditional style draws more on Americana-inspired interior design—from Colonial Revival to Shaker and Mission furniture styles. But in traditional interior design, you’ll also find some less-ornate European-inspired furniture styles, like Queen Anne and Victorian. Overall, traditional style is more streamlined, practical, and comfortable than classical interior design. It’s all about livability.

Regardless of if you like a more classic formal style or Americana traditional, the thru-line of these styles and how they’re brought to life today is that they all take pre-20th century design references and approach them in a more relatable way. Often, this means infusing some cheekiness into design choices to personalize the look. Some more nuanced ways this style can come to life is in Shabby Chic decor, French Country style, Cottagecore, Grandmillenial and Modern Manor style.

What to Look For When Shopping

To bring some traditional inspiration to your home, look for these elements in your furniture and decor.

  • Colors: Warm neutrals, punctuated with blues, greens, and/or pinks
  • Furniture: Roll-arm seating, tufted pieces, scalloped edges
  • Textiles: wicker, velvet, silk, refined wool, linen
  • Finishes: brass, gilded metallics, fabric wall coverings, busy patterns, wainscotting and crown molding
  • Decor: Tchotchkes, items with florals and ruffles, patterned wallpaper

colonial reviaval style living room with ornate wallpaper and velvet rolled arm sofa

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New Traditional is the perfect vintage-inspired style for you if you like…

  • Traditional Americana style with true antique vibes
  • Cottagecore and/or Grandmillenial vibes
  • Soft color palettes
  • Intricate details on furniture
  • Botanical patterns

Bohemian

Photo credit: Isabella Bondo

Bohemian interior design is colorful and eclectic, with a definite global flair. (It’s that global flair that helps bring in the vintage vibes to this style!) Boho spaces tend to include an eclectic assortment of collected objects, as well as a fun mix of patterns and colors. Plus, plenty of natural materials! A casual and carefree style, it also has a relaxed approach to styling.

What to Look For When Shopping

To bring some eclectic boho vibes to your home, look for these elements in your furniture and decor.

  • Colors: Whites, tans, vibrant jewel tones, saturated earth tones
  • Furniture: Eclectic/global feel (with a boho space, it’s not as much about the shape but about layering pieces to create a unique look)
  • Textiles: Woven patchwork, fringed items, embroidered fabric
  • Finishes: Gold, silver, and brass; natural materials, grasscloth, jute, rattan
  • Decor: Wicker and rattan items, unique vintage/flea market finds, whimsical items

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Boho is the perfect vintage-inspired style for you if you like…

  • Retro styles, like a 60s or 70s Revival look
  • To decorate with natural materials and textures
  • A global-inspired look full of collected decor
  • Casually layering textiles and patterns to create an eclectic look
  • Decorating with lots of plants and greenery
  • A more casual vibe

Feeling overwhelmed at the thought of finding the right vintage-inspired furniture and decor for your home? You don’t have to go it alone! Our Modsy designers know all the best brands and products to help you bring a vintage-inspired space to life.

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Everything You Need to Know About Designing With Antiques in Modern Spaces

We’ve got some news: antiques are rising in popularity. Mid-century modern has been the trendy, vintage-inspired style on the block for a long time. But recently, traditional design has been re-entering the spotlight, as more people are looking for comfort in the familiar. And, along with a resurgence of traditional design has come a renewed interest in antique furniture!

So many people have antique furniture passed down to them and have no idea how to incorporate pieces into their homes. So they put them in the garage to collect dust. Or they place them in a random corner of the house, hoping nobody will notice how out of place it looks. But we say it’s time to embrace—and perhaps even seek out—antique furniture in your home! They add story and character to your home, plus give you something unique that you can’t just go out and buy from any old store!

Aside from being a unique piece of furniture, antiques also have a sustainability component that resonates with a lot of people. Since these pieces have already been produced and are still in use, they have a much smaller carbon footprint than brand-new furniture. And they also tend to be more affordable than a lot of new furniture. Of course, it depends on the piece, but in general, since antiques are less popular, prices are lower. And, considering the age of antique furniture, you can feel confident in the quality with which they were made. These are pieces you wont’ need to replace in a few years, which adds to antique furniture’s element of sustainability.

Want to learn more about antiques? Get the scoop on why antiques are making a comeback with Modsy’s podcast, The Render. Listen here.

For reference, antiques are generally defined as objects 100 years old, or older. Meanwhile, anything more than 20 years old is considered vintage. But decorating and designing your home with antique and vintage pieces alike are all about adding storied furniture and objects into your home, blending old-world design with the new and modern.

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Ok, so maybe we’ve now convinced you of the glories of decorating with antiques. Yay! But now you’re probably wondering: How do I actually do it?? How do you bring old pieces into a modern home without things looking museum-like or wildly mis-matched? Trust us, just because you like antiques doesn’t mean you have to go full-throttle Emily Gilmore in your decor. There are so many ways to incorporate antique pieces into more modern or contemporary spaces. Our Modsy designers can help you figure out how to incorporate specific antique pieces into your home’s design. But you can also keep reading for examples of interior design with antique furniture in modern spaces, along with tips for decorating with antique furniture!

modern bedroom design with an antique dresser and small gallery wall

Layer Antiques With Contemporary Decor

One of the more interesting and eclectic ways to incorporate antiques into your home? Mixing them with contemporary decor. By layering multiple styles together, you create a mix that feels unique and where you almost lose track of what’s new and what’s not. It helps create a look of a home that’s collected over time, versus something cookie-cutter that came straight out of a catalogue.

In this room, the dresser is the piece of antique furniture—but both the bench and the bed maintain a contemporary traditional flair. Brand-new dressers can be quite an investment, so we love the idea of using an antique dresser—whether one that was handed down to you or that you bought second-hand—to save money without skimping on style. The gallery wall above the dresser, along with the bold stripes of the bench, helps add to that “collected” vibe. We used blue throughout, which is a good color to help balance out the red undertones of the wood finish. In contrast, we used the traditional-patterned rug to help tie in those undertones.

Pro Tip:

Many people are tempted to paint antique and vintage pieces. And while that can sometimes work, in a piece like this, where there’s so much beauty in the natural wood grain, we recommend leaving it. However, if you come across an antique that has good bones but is pretty beat up, you can always strip and sand the existing stain, then refinish it with a fresh coat of stain.

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Modern dining room design with an antique sideboard

Let Your Antique Make a Statement

Sometimes you find a piece of antique furniture that’s such a show-stopper, you have to use it as the centerpiece of your space. There’s no blending it in—it needs to make a statement. That’s how we felt with this classic buffet table. The two-tone, high-gloss finish feels bold in a modern home, even more so when you consider its Victorian style, with ornate touches and carved details. It has a very regal vibe, and the height of the legs help this piece feel special and the space feel larger.

But even statement pieces have to go with the design of the rest of the room. In this case, we placed the buffet in the dining room, alongside a modern marble table and upholstered dining chairs. The sleek forms of both balance out the ornateness of the buffet.

But you could also go for asymmetrical styling, which we did here, which gives it more of an informal vibe and leans slightly into the eclectic. The leaning art and modern sculpture on the buffet supports this informal vibe.

Pro Tip:

A reddish wood tone like this piece—which shows up in a lot of antique furniture—can be hard to match with other wood furniture. So, we’d recommend not having a lot of other wood tones in a space where you’re featuring a piece like this buffet. But if you do incorporate other wood tones, keep them light. Otherwise, just mix in other natural materials for added depth. We love the mix of the red, high-gloss wood with a marble dining table; in both cases, the material of the tables themselves are the ornamentation, so you can keep things pretty simple in the rest of the room.

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modern living room design with an antique trunk used as a coffee table

Use Antiques As Accent Pieces

Antiques don’t always have to be statement pieces. Sometimes incorporating antique furniture as a subtle accent is just the thing. Above, we’re using an antique trunk as a coffee table. And a coffee table with built-in storage, no less! The room, as a whole, is a mix of modern and traditional lines, so this trunk blends in quite naturally.

However, to make sure it still stands out a bit, we contrasted the dark finish of the trunk with a light sofa. We also chose pieces throughout the room that would help highlight the color tones of the wood—specifically, the rust red from the rug helps pull out the weathered warmth from the piece. We also incorporated natural textures throughout the room to complement the weathered wood finish.

History Lesson:

Using an antique in a high-traffic area may seem a bit scary—what if someone spills a drink or doesn’t use a coaster? The great thing about antique trunks is that they’re made for rough handling. Before suitcases, trunks were how people packed and travelled—and as a result, they endured exposure to the elements and a lot of being tossed around on steamer ships and trains. So, don’t be too worried about scrapes and spills. In fact, pieces like these allow you to celebrate the age and patina!

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modern dining room with an antique dining table paired with wishbone dining chairs

Create Contrast With Old Meets New

It’s one thing to mix antiques with more traditional-style furniture. It’s another move entirely to mix antiques with ultra-modern lines. Wishbone chairs are quite a statement in and of themselves—but pairing them with a Victorian-style dining table creates a really interesting, unexpected juxtaposition.

We love how the curves of the table legs mirror the curves of the chairs. Like the dining room featured earlier in this post, these furniture pieces are great examples of forms and material as decor. This allows the rest of the room to be pretty minimal—though the natural textures found in the rug, cabinet, and seats of the chairs creates some nice depth in this space.

Pro Tip:

This dining room table is another example of antique pieces with red undertones—so you need to be mindful of what other wood tones are in the space. The light, natural finish of the chair and cabinet are a great example of what wood tones work with this type of antique finish. Another thing to consider is the finish of your flooring. If it clashes with your antique (or any other piece of furniture, for that matter) don’t worry. Just invest in a large rug to keep the dining room table visually separated from the finish of the floor.

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entryway design with a traditional console table and an antique dining chair

Mix Real Antiques With Reproductions

When decorating with antiques in a modern home, you don’t have to stick with strictly modern pieces. In fact, there’s something very visually interesting about mixing real antiques with furniture that’s made to look like an antique, like in the entryway above. Here, the chair is the antique, but the console has that very old-world vibe.

While they’re not styles from the same era, they create an interesting juxtaposition side by side. This also works because of the chair’s ebony finish, which doesn’t compete with the finish of the console. In this space, it’s the additional decor that helps balance the old and the new. The natural textures of the tray, ceramics, and greenery—along with the dark wall color and modern mirror—pull these pieces into the 21st century. But we love the storied history of this chair, which creates a fun conversation starter the moment someone enters your home.

History Lesson:

This style of chair—called a Hitchcock Chair—was first created in Connecticut in 1818 and is characterized by its stenciling. This style of chair is a product of technology from the early Industrial Revolution, where sawmills on the river, along with interchangeable parts, were used for quick and economical production. These chairs started the “fancy chair” trend in upwardly mobile middle class families of the 19th century and, at the time, were a symbol of this new economic tier. How’s that for a fun tidbit??

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farmhouse dining room design with an antique church pew used as a bench

Repurpose Antiques Into Something New

Sometimes, the original intended purpose of an antique doesn’t make sense in your home. But that doesn’t mean you have to throw it out or shove it in the back of your garage. You can simply repurpose it!

In this dining nook, we repurposed an old church pew into a bench for eating at the dining room table. Replacing a chair or two with an old church pew adds a sense of charm and character to this set-up and helps the space feel much cozier. Painting it white helps it more cohesively blend in with the style of the rest of the room—but both its form and finish definitely complement the rustic modern vibe of this space!

Pro Tip:

A dining room bench isn’t’ the only way to repurpose an old church pew—there are so many ways to use them, from your entryway to your living room or porch! Depending on the style and condition of the church pew, it might be more of a style statement than a functional piece—and it’s never going to be your most comfortable seating option. But it still adds a storied history to your home, which we love.

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Reading nook design with a tufted leather armchair and an antique dresser

Mix Antiques From Different Styles + Eras

When it comes to antique furniture, you don’t have to limit yourself to just one piece. In fact, there’s something quite charming and eclectic about mixing antiques from different styles and eras. That’s exactly what we did in this eclectic bedroom, where we mixed together an antique tufted chair and an antique dresser. They’re not the same style or from the same era—but they blend together quite nicely.

The color on the wall helps highlight the natural patina and character of both of these brown furniture pieces. The pouf, mirror, and wall art add to the collected, eclectic vibe of this space. We opted for a more traditional rug pattern to tie the room together but with more saturated colors to liven up the space. Overall, this room has a very rustic boho vibe, which is somewhat unexpected for a room with multiple antiques. But we really love how all the furniture and decor plays together for a relaxed, fun space.

Pro Tip:

If you have an antique or vintage chair or sofa with good bones but shabby upholstery, invest in reupholstering it! This will generally be the same price or cheaper than buying a new piece of furniture, and it allows you to customize it with the fabric of your choice! (How fun would it be to reupholster an antique chair in a vibrant, modern print??) Plus, it’s so much more sustainable to simply reupholster than throw out a piece of furniture that has good bones just to buy something new.

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5 Ways to Mix Vintage Pieces into Modern Spaces

We love the look of mixing vintage pieces into modern interiors. Vintage pieces are a great way to infuse your space with some old-world charm and texture, and make your home feel unique and full or character.

While we know it can be a challenge to imagine a vintage steamer trunk looking great with your modern sofa, we have a few tricks that will help.

So whether you’re in the market for some antiques or have a vintage piece you simply don’t know how to make work, here are a few easy, stylish ideas for combining vintage pieces with modern furnishings in your home.

 

vintage pieces

1. Mix in a Little Patina

The appeal of vintage pieces often comes from their timeworn look. These signs of age give vintage pieces their signature “patina,” and can work wonderfully to warm up a room that’s predominantly white or spare.

Pair with solid hues…

To strike a visual balance of old and new. For instance, the roughness of the old steamer trunk repurposed as a coffee table in this living room, is a stylish visual counterpoint to the clean-lined leather sofa.

Pair with soft textures…

To offset the aged look of a vintage piece, especially if it’s made of weathered wood or tarnished metals. Crisp pillows, shaggy rugs, and other rich textiles will help to soften the rough-hewn look of a vintage, patinaed piece.

 

vintage pieces

2. Consider Classic Furniture Details

Most antique furniture was constructed using traditional techniques, and their forms often reflect that craftsmanship. Think X-bases and ornately carved table legs. These classic design elements can add an eclectic vibe to a modern space.

Combine classic details with minimal designs…

To create contrast. In this dining area the carved antique table works perfectly with the minimal design of the console and round mirror. The idea is to contrast heft with lightness to create a balanced look for your space.

Combine classic details with curvy shapes…

To take the edge off classic antiques. While carved wood pieces provide a sophisticated note to a space, they can appear solid and rigid, like the dining table above. Round accents like the hanging pendant or the curving seat of the iconic Bertoia chairs, will help create a space where modern and traditional elements collaborate rather than clash.

 

vintage pieces

3. Work with Mid-Century Lines

There’s no shortage of gorgeous mid-century pieces in the market these days. Among vintage designs, these clean-lined pieces are great for mixing into modern spaces.

Mix mid-century with iconic designs…

For a distinctly contemporary look with an air of design sophistication. Here, the polished vintage desk is matched with the Modernist Ghost Chair, which shares its sleek lines and simple form with the desk.

Mix mid-century with brass…

To add a little modern glimmer. Many vintage pieces sport brass hardware, so try layering your vintage piece with even more brassy accents to tie the whole look together. Additionally, brass makes for an eye-catching and warm visual contrast to polished woods.

 

vintage pieces

4. Add a Statement Antique

If you’re looking to make a statement, opt for an antique or vintage piece that’s rich with history. Consider them conversation pieces that will stand out from the rest of your furnishings in any room.

Balance statement antiques with big pieces…

To match the grandeur of your vintage design. What contemporary designs may lack in history, they can still make up for in bold scale and style. The grandfather clock here is balanced by the green velvet sofa and the large-scale art that’s equally eye-catching.

Balance statement antiques with gold touches…

For a way to unify the old and the new. Gold accents, such as side tables or gilded frames, can be a great way to bridge antiques and modern furnishings – they have a way of making big antiques, like this grandfather clock, feel contextualized and they add a glamorous touch to the space. Try layering a few gold pieces in between your antiques and your modern pieces to create a cohesive look.

 

vintage pieces

5. Go Bold with Vintage Woods

Many large vintage pieces feel especially out-of-place in modern homes because of their dark wood (not to mention those ornate carved details). When it comes to big antiques, such as storage pieces, try pairing the bold with the bold.

Pair vintage woods with bright colors…

To offset the dark wood tones. Lighter hues and textiles with patterns can be a great counterpoint to vintage furniture in dark woods. For example, the dark-wood dresser in this bedroom blends beautifully against the marbled, blue wallpaper, for a look that’s modern, playful, and easy on the eyes.

Pair vintage woods with light upholstery…

To create a space that’s equally relaxed and refined. Upholstery, even in the form of a single chair, placed alongside a vintage dark wood piece can help to ease up its strong appearance. Try bringing in side chairs in bright fabrics or a light white upholstered seat that can easily be pulled up next to a dresser or a console for the perfect visual balance.

 

With Modsy, you can create a 3D model of any piece of furniture, like your vintage credenza, and we can help incorporate it into your design, no matter what your style.

Need help mixing in your vintage furniture?

 

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