Interior Design

Vintage decor is back – but it's been reinvented for 2021

Use these key tricks when using vintage decor to get the look just right for your home

Vintage decor: woodchip and magnolia floral wallpaper in bedroom
(Image credit: Woodchip & Magnolia)

From ditsy floral prints to antique pieces, there has been a dramatic increase in people opting for vintage decor. 

'Vintage design is enjoying a resurgence' says Nina Tarnowski, Founder and Designer of Woodchip & Magnolia. 'We have seen a rising demand for vintage design wallpaper and fabrics as customers look to add character and warmth to their living spaces. '

This also follows the trend of people turning away from throw-away items in favor of pieces with less environmental impact. 'Buying pre-loved is a far more ethical way to shop, especially at a time when mass consumption is costing the earth and driving small business under,' says Alice Roberton of Arthur Swallows Fairs.

However, vintage decor isn't just one look. Below, we take a look at three easy ways to source and use vintage decor for 2021. 

See: Country living room ideas – rustic rooms that are cosy and chic

What is vintage decor?

The vintage decorating style was once a nostalgic look back at chintzy designs and was designed to create a cosy, nostalgic look. For 2021, it has had a more modern update and doesn't just incorporate rustic, blowsy and country-style decor, but also includes more contemporary designs such as in the Retro Revival trend. However, it is always charming.

Where can I buy vintage decor?

Our favorite places to buy vintage decor are eBay, Etsy and Chairish, but there is a wealth of local stores and online market places where you can find unique vintage pieces. They're favorites of self-confessed vintage-lover Nate Berkus, too.

If you're just getting on board with the vintage trend, then antiques and vintage fairs are a great place to start. Beloved by both newbies and seasoned professionals, vintage fairs offer the opportunity to meet knowledgable sellers who can help you find quality items on a shoestring while also reducing your impact on the environment.

See: Interior design trends – top looks for the year ahead

1. Layer fabrics to create vintage decor the traditional way

vintage decor

(Image credit: Susie Watson Designs)

This is a typical, countrified version of vintage decor – and it's wonderful for rustic homes and spaces with small proportions.

‘Fabrics play a huge part in achieving a vintage feel in your home. Natural fabrics, like linen and cotton will always feel less uniform and modern. You can’t go wrong with a stripe, they are simple yet elegant and choosing a muted color, will really play up the vintage feel,' says Susie Watson at Susie Watson Designs. 'I like layering delicate florals such as apple blossom with stripes, this creates a more eclectic, interesting look.’ 

vintage decor

(Image credit: Susie Watson Designs)

2. Layer wallpapers and furniture for edgy, characterful vintage decor

vintage decor

(Image credit: Woodchip & Magnolia)

Vintage decor suits bedrooms brilliantly, too, and you can apply the same rules as you would in a living room. Here, it's been used to effect for an edgier look you might associate more with Parisian flea markets than English country cottages.

'To incorporate this look into your own home, I’d recommend layering vintage homewares with modern elements in a complementary color palette for a balanced and cohesive scheme. Our recent collaboration with fashion designer Pearl Lowe echoes the heritage designs often found within the Georgian era, but with a rock ‘n’ roll twist,' says Nina Tarnowski, Founder and Designer of Woodchip & Magnolia

vintage decor wallpaper in bedroom

(Image credit: Woodchip & Magnolia)

'For this collection, I drew from the grand regal influences of the Victorian period, but viewed through the lens of 21st century vintage style. I love how a design inspired by a long-gone era can be retold for our contemporary world,' explains Pearl Lowe. 

'My personal favorite of the collection, the Selwood is the pattern I can’t wait to have in my own home. I love how the framing of the intricate floral design feels feminine and majestic,' she says.

3. Combine antiques with contemporary pieces for vintage decor 2021-style

vintage decor

(Image credit: Future / Mel Yates)

'The key to the contemporary take on vintage decor is not to take it to extremes, but rather to temper it with more contemporary pieces or designs,' says Homes & Gardens Editor in Chief Lucy Searle. 'So while the room above has an authentic feel, the lamp could be a modern piece with a period feel.

'And in the room below, vintage decor takes another step towards being more contemporary – all of these pieces are contemporary but have a period-style and are on trend for 2021: wicker is a huge lighting trend that's returning, while the Chinoiserie on the cushion is another emerging retake on a textile trend that was popular decades ago.'

Bed - vintage decor

(Image credit: Future)

Call it the Greta Thunberg effect, call it post-pandemic nostalgia, we're big fans of vintage decor.

Holly Reaney
Content Editor and Sub-editor

Having graduated with a first class degree in English Literature, Holly started her career as a features writer and sub-editor at Period Living magazine, Homes & Gardens' sister title. Working on Period Living brought with it insight into the complexities of owning and caring for period homes, from interior decorating through to choosing the right windows and the challenges of extending. This has led to a passion for traditional interiors, particularly the country-look. Writing for the Homes & Gardens website as a content editor, alongside regular features for Period Living and Country Homes & Interiors magazines, has enabled her to broaden her writing to incorporate her interests in gardening, wildlife and nature.