20 Vintage Living Room Ideas
When you look at an old-fashioned living room, it’s classy and beautiful. People really knew how to decorate back in the day, and you want your living room to have that vintage style. You've looked for vintage furniture and decorations, but the place just doesn't have the period look you want. Use some of these Vintage Living Room Ideas to create a beautiful vintage room that looks just the way you want it to.
1) Pallet Wood
Pallet wood is a great go-to material for any furniture because you can find it free or cheap, and it works well for matching vintage furniture in particular. Since the boards are probably already weathered, you can use the wood's natural character to make your pieces look old and worn. This article by Camellia Ghotbzadeh is a great guide to getting pallet wood and preparing it for a project. Some good first-time projects are tables and benches, and there are many tutorials for chests and more complex furniture.
Think about some of the smaller features you see in vintage furniture. If you can't afford to buy vintage-only furniture, you can get modern furniture with similar characteristics. One common trait of older furniture is feet. While a modern couch sits low to the ground, and the feet aren't visible, a vintage or antique sofa like this would have visible feet, with cloth that covered only the cushions and maybe the armrests. If you want your modern furniture to blend in, try to find furniture that matches this style.
3) Vintage Edison Lamp
There was a time when not all houses had electricity. Later on, houses began to have electricity, and often had only one outlet in a room. They might use that one outlet for a lamp, but overhead lighting wasn't common until much later on. A lot of vintage and antique styles still use a lot of lamps so that this vintage Edison lamp would be a great addition to your living room. Watch this video by Modern Builds to learn how to build your own lamp in this style.
4) Vintage-Style Spotlight Lamp
Table lamps are a big part of the vintage style, and if you want to add an extra piece of history to your collection, try a lamp like this one. This light fixture looks like an old spotlight, but it's a working table lamp. While this isn't a genuine vintage item, it'll add to your vintage collection's overall appearance. It'd be challenging to stock your living room only with vintage items, so you'll probably want to weave some retro ones like these in.
5) Chalk Paint Vintage Look
If your furniture or decoration isn't vintage, you can always make it look like it is. One cheap and simple way to do so is by using chalk paint and wax. In this tutorial, Annie Sloan shows you how to make a wood cabinet or other furniture piece look vintage. Before you do this, think about what vintage theme you want. If you're making a white vintage cabinet, do you have other white furniture pieces, or is everything stained? This technique is a simple one that gets decent results.
Strange as it may seem, not everything in your vintage living room has to be vintage. Instead of scrounging around yard sales for furniture to restore or going to pricey antique stores, look for things that complement your vintage decor. That doesn't mean they have to match it, either. Try a decoration like this ottoman from The Home Depot with cursive writing and stamps. The ottoman brings to mind an old drawer filled with letters and valuable papers lost by time, and you can bring that to your guests each time they enter your living room.
7) Any Lamp You Can Find
Lamps are a big part of vintage styles since there was a time when most houses didn't have overhead lighting installed. If you don't have vintage lamps, that's okay. The point is to get lighting from different directions and have a few lights on smaller tables around the room. The lamp's style doesn't matter, so go ahead and pick one that you like, as long as it isn't ultra-modern. If you want to stay with the vintage style, try retro ones like these lamps from Amazon.
8) The 1960s
Do you have a favorite era you want to copy? Maybe you're a fan of the 50s or 60s in particular? If you have a favorite era, you can try to collect items that are all from that time period, like the items in this 1960s living room. You'll probably have to start with some replicas or period items, but then you can gradually collect period furniture and decorations from tag sales, antique shops, and online marketplaces. Eventually, you'll have a complete vintage living room.
9) Corner Table
Corner tables are an old-style piece of furniture that many people may have forgotten about. In the past, having little stands everywhere was a common way to arrange a living room. Corner tables were popular, and they're a convenient storage space, too. If you can't find a vintage one online or in a store or tag sale, try getting one like this from The Home Depot. While it's not old, it'll look the part until you find a vintage one to replace it.
If you have an old piece of furniture and want to create a vintage look, there are many ways to do that. This method shows by Addicted 2 Decorating is somewhat involved, requiring tools like a belt sander, but the end result is impressive. You can use it on two or three pieces of furniture in your living room to make it look like a vintage set of furniture. You can try this with different paint colors if white doesn't work for you, though white is a standard vintage furniture color.
11) Small Tables
In the past, people often designed their living rooms with small tables around the room. This left them places to put things, and also made good stands for lamps since a lot of places were lit by lamps back then. Use this walkthrough by Eamon Walsh DIY to build your own small tables, but consider painting or staining them to look like real vintage furniture. There are many tutorials for doing so correctly, but you can always use sandpaper on a finished piece to make it look a little beaten-up.
While oil, natural gas, and electric heat have been around for a while now, wood fireplaces were standard for a long time after other heat sources became common. A fireplace certainly gives any room an old-fashioned appearance. That said, you might not need or want an actual fireplace. Install a fake fireplace to give your living room a vintage look without any major home renovation. You can create a look like the one in this photo, but you can ultimately choose any style of fireplace and still make the room look more old-fashioned than before.
13) Vintage-Style Rug
Sometimes you don't want a full room makeover. If you already have a vintage room, but can't figure out what you're missing, have you tried putting a rug down? Look for an old rug, or get this vintage-look rug from Amazon, and use it to tie the living room specs together. Rugs are often seen in vintage decor since a carpet is and was expensive. Since a wall-to-wall carpet was less common, a vintage-style rug like this fits the theme and creates a cohesive look that you might've been missing before.
Open floor plans are becoming more common, but there was a time when a layout with many small rooms was typical. Back when houses were heated by fireplaces in each room, they needed many small rooms so they could be heated efficiently. Now, with central heating systems, one open space is more typical. If you want to make your open living room plan look more like a vintage living room, try creating smaller nooks like this one with multiple furniture sets instead of one big furniture set.
15) Vintage Textiles
Don't just look at items like furniture and shelf decorations when you put together your vintage living room. Add softer textures to the room with some vintage textiles. Vintage textiles can be hard to find and identify, but Lauren Flanagan with Style at Home gives advice on how to find vintage textiles. She also has some great information about cleaning and using such delicate fabrics as decorations or for projects. If your room didn't look right before, it might've been missing softer elements like vintage cloth.
16) Analog Wall Clocks
Before the advent of digital clocks, everybody had analog clocks. Living rooms often had grandfather or grandmother clocks and may have had smaller wall clocks or cuckoo clocks. While you might have a digital clock on your cable box, you'll want to add some sort of analog clock, too. It could be a wall clock like this, a newer grandmother clock, or even a vintage clock you found somewhere. Either way, it adds an element of realism and makes your room look more like rooms from the time you're copying.
17) Mix With Modern
Vintage items can be expensive, and they're outside of most people's budgets, but don't be intimidated! You can still have a great room with touches of vintage items. Similarly, if you have family heirlooms and other vintage items, you don't have to go out and spend the money to turn the whole room into something that could be in a museum. Instead, use some of these tips from Darla of Darla Powell Interiors to create a Vintage-Modern mixed living room.
18) Decorative Pillow
Vintage or not, throw pillows are an important part of any living room decor. They're comfortable, and make a couch look nicer. Since you have a vintage theme, you'll want to get vintage-looking pillows. These can be earth-toned, and probably have old-fashioned imagery like birdhouses and flowers, like this pillow from Amazon. You can also get pillows with a rougher cloth that resembles burlap, or patchwork pillows that look like they were sewn together from old clothes. Patchwork pillows will create a more eclectic vintage look.
19) Designer and Vintage
If you're thinking about converting your living room to a vintage style because you have some family heirlooms or newly-acquired vintage items, consider a mixed design first. Instead of filing the whole room with vintage furniture and getting rid of your designer furniture, combine the two. This article by Janet from Shabbyfufu has some great tips that will help you blend designer and vintage furniture without creating a clashing mess. While it takes some attention to detail, you'll get a fantastic result without replacing all your furniture.
20) Contemporary and Comfortable
This is a vintage living room, but if you see something comfortable in a store, don't be afraid to get it. You can actually mix vintage and modern items. Chairs like this are a common item to put in a vintage living room because they get heavy use. It can be hard to find vintage chairs and couches, and then they'll get worn out as you use them. Instead, get something like this chair from Amazon that's comfortable, and get vintage items that you won't use as heavily.
What're you looking for in your vintage living room? Do you have vintage items ready, or are you shopping around? Tell us about it in the comments below.