5 ways to decorate with vintage art, according to interior designers who love this eclectic look

Here's how to add character to your home by decorating with vintage art

vintage artwork in home decor schemes
(Image credit: Left and middle: Vernich Interiors/photography Paige Rumore, Right: Colette Interiors/Linda Pordon Photography)

Decorating with vintage art is one of the best ways to inject your home with character and a sense of history. Especially in interior schemes that feel slightly rustic and eclectic, decorating with art from the past can be the perfect finishing touch that feels both personal and unique.

'Vintage art is a wonderful way to bring history into your home,' says interior designer Nadia Watts. 'It’s almost always one of a kind, bringing a uniqueness that makes your home feel special.'

5 ways to decorate with vintage art

The beauty of decorating with vintage is that it should be informed by what you love, outliving any interior design trends and allowing your home to tell a story – and that's no less true when it comes to vintage art.

To ensure a stylish look when displaying your favorite vintage art pieces, the tried-and-tested expertise of interior designers can often help you on your way. Below, we've shared some of their favorite ways to decorate with vintage artwork throughout the home.

1. Mix vintage art with modern elements

modern rustic small kitchen with vintage wall art

(Image credit: Mylands)

'I love mixing vintage art with modern elements to create an eclectic and visually interesting space,' says interior designer Matthew Williamson. 'This juxtaposition adds character and depth to the decor.'

Depending on your interior design style, considering the balance of old and new when incorporating vintage artwork can ensure you steer clear of a dated look. For example, antique artworks appear balanced in a modern farmhouse interior, rather than the whole room following an antique look which risks making a home look dated.  

Similarly, opting to mix modern and vintage artwork follows the same idea, giving vintage pieces a new lease of life for the present day: 'I love using vintage art in combination with modern art and photography,' says Nadia Watts. 'I have always been drawn to the mix: the old with the new; the shiny with the patina; the bold with the subdued. Vintage art is the perfect way to achieve the mix.'

Designer Melanie Millner, founding principal of The Design Atelier adds that upgrading vintage art with modern frames is another way to blend old and new: 'I enjoy using a modern frame with vintage photography because it creates an intriguing contrast that embraces the vintage quality of the photo while bringing new life to it.'

2. Create a gallery wall

coral/pink living room with gold couch, artwork, gold side table, lamp, multicoloured rug

(Image credit: Matthew Williamson)

Gallery walls are a timeless wall decor idea that can promote an eclectic look when filled with vintage artwork. Rather than singling out one specific piece, gallery walls allow you to display a range of pieces that you can add to over time, for a truly eclectic look and feel. 

Matthew Williamson explains that he enjoys creating gallery walls when styling vintage art, thanks to the variety in styles it encourages: 'I enjoy creating gallery walls with a curated collection of vintage art pieces, showcasing different styles and subjects. I like to create these displays the same way that I might dress: gathering and layering, matching and contrasting, and telling a story that allows the artworks to enter into a discourse on the wall.'

3. Decorate with vintage art in unexpected places

reading corner with blue chair and footstool and artwork on blue walls

(Image credit: Vernich Interiors, photography Paige Rumore)

Beyond the most obvious places to display art in the home, such as the living room walls, decorating with vintage art in slightly more unexpected areas of the home can be a simple way to elevate underused spaces – as demonstrated in this relaxing corner designed by Connie Vernich of Vernich Interiors

'Vintage art is a great way to give a home some soul,' says interior designer Laura Williams of ATX Interior Design. 'I love to use vintage art in unexpected areas of the home that may need a little spotlight. Corners that don't have a purpose or above a special reading nook are perfect examples of the ideal vintage art spots.'

4. Think beyond traditional artwork

wooden dresser with traditional armchair and gallery wall

(Image credit: Vernich Interiors, photography Paige Rumore)

'Vintage art comes in all shapes, sizes, and mediums, so the possibilities are endless,' says Nadia Watts.

Beyond traditional pieces of artwork, there are many more creative ways to interpret vintage art, as Nadia continues to share: 'Find an antique book or old poster and have it framed. Think outside the box when it comes to sourcing vintage art, almost anything can be framed!'

'Look for vintage textiles with interesting shapes, colors, and patterns,' continues Nadia. 'Old advertisements and magazine clippings are another good source for frameable pieces. You want your space to feel as though it was curated over time, with thoughtfulness and personality.'

5. Make it personal

bathroom with vintage art gallery wall

(Image credit: Colette Interiors, Linda Pordon Photography)

When sourcing vintage art for your home, always prioritize the pieces that mean something to you and speak to what you love. Artwork more generally is one of the best ways to communicate your personality through your home decor ideas, and this should be no less true for vintage pieces. 

Interior designer Trish Lynn of Colette Interiors explains how the vintage art gallery in the bathroom pictured above was an effective way of capturing a sense of personality, unique to the homeowner: 

'We love incorporating vintage layers into our spaces in unique and unexpected ways. This vintage gallery does a beautiful job of integrating the old and new while also highlighting themes that have personal meaning to the homeowner.'

Decorating with vintage art is more often than not a constantly evolving process, and one that shouldn't be rushed. Whether you're new to decorating with vintage art or already have an impressive collection, these ideas will ensure each piece is stylishly displayed throughout your home. 

Paint & Color Editor

Emily is H&G's Paint & Color Editor, covering all things color across interior design and home decor. She joined the team in the summer of 2023, having studied Fashion Communication at university before working in various creative roles ahead of making the leap into interiors. She lives in Glasgow where she loves admiring the city's architecture, frequenting her favorite coffee spots, and sourcing vintage furniture for her tenement apartment. Emily's interior style is inspired by the simplicity of midcentury design, mixed with more playful modern pieces that inject small (but bold) doses of color.