Living with my mom while in school has been a blessing in many ways: cheap rent, really delicious meals and someone to watch The Bachelor with. But living back at home also means I don’t have a lot of space. This isn’t really an issue except for when it comes to my love for vintage home decor. In college I created an independent study project that focused on American interior design from colonial to present and I still can’t stop drooling over beautiful handmade furnishings or quirky kitsch accessories. Unfortunately right now I don’t have the space to house all the cheap and pretty thrift shop furniture finds I keep discovering, unless of course I want to live in a room that looks like a warehouse. I like having space to move around so I’ve had to leave many lovely pieces behind for someone that has the room for them.
You would think that not having any room for vintage furnishings may have stopped my weekend thrifting hunts, but no! I have fallen in love with small vintage pieces and have transformed them into useful objects of desire that I can admire right away. The other great part is that they are super wallet friendly. Vintage pieces can be fabulous and practical with just a little bit of imagination.
Don’t you just love the lettering on the side of these canisters? They were only $5 together at my local thrift shop!
Containers of any shape and size are the perfect storage solutions: When I shop for vintage home pieces, I love to look for pretty canisters, baskets, cookie jars, any little thing that can hold something else. Just because something might say “flour” on the side doesn’t mean it isn’t the perfect place to keep your silk scarves or those scrunchies from the 90s you just can’t part with. Those unique details of vintage containers make a prettier storage place than a bin from Ikea or Target. Other storage pieces can include locker baskets for shoes, balls of yarn, etc. and other small industrial pieces to hold whatever your heart desires.
Things aren’t always as they seem: meaning don’t think just because an object has seemingly specific purpose it can’t be used for something else. You can buy something now and intend to use it later and store it away. Or you can buy something and think up a creative way to use it now. I find that I usually do this when it comes to kitchen decor because I love vintage kitchen pieces (see above) but I don’t have my own kitchen to use them in. I say, so what?! and use them for something else, like display pieces, storage or bookends. Funky kitchen pieces can make unique pieces of art or have practical uses, you just have to figure it out. I love the vintage items I bought and I want to appreciate them now, not when I finally have the specific function for them.
A french-inspired cocktail shaker (including classic drink recipes!) is on display as…
A remote control holder!
Small quirky pieces create a unique design feature: Sometimes you find something when you’re thrifting that is a sad and lonely piece of forgotten history. I’m talking about the candlestick without its mate, the set of three plates missing one or a few friends or the one earring languishing in a pile of junk. Not only are these pieces looking lost but they are looking cheap. When you think outside of the box, you can snatch up these cheap pieces and use them to your advantage. Single earrings can be reused in craft projects or incorporated into another jewelry design while three plates might be the perfect wall adornment for the empty place in your kitchen. They might not be able to fulfill their original design but you have the power to redesign them just for you.
Create your own collection: Vintage pieces can of course be collected. Things like milk glass, depression glass and salt and pepper shakers are just a few of the highly collectible things that are out there but you can make a collection out of anything you like. I love carnival prize animals and kitchen accessories. Having a lot of one type of item can be an interesting conversation starter and you can rotate out items on display so that your place never becomes stale. But really, a collection can just make you satisfied.
That touch of vintage is your touch of uniqueness: No matter what kind of small old pieces you choose to purchase and use, they all say a little bit about you: your style, your personality and your inspiration. Picking up a little vintage keeps you out of those big box stores and keeps your living space unique and personal.
Remember: just because you don’t have the space for statement making vintage pieces doesn’t mean that you can’t incorporate a little bit of history here and there. Think outside of the box and have fun; vintage is all about what makes you and your style unique.