Timeless Fusion: How to Blend Vintage and Modern Design According to Experts


Explore the delicate balance of design as experienced professionals reveal their insights into seamlessly blending vintage aesthetics with modern settings. Whether you’re living in the historic apartments of New York City, to modern Los Angeles rentals, this Redfin article will show you how to infuse your living spaces with the richness of vintage charm while maintaining the simplicity of modern interior design. 

vintage modern interior

1.  Vintage items make your design long-lasting

“We believe that furnishing your apartment should be fun and should look good as well,” says Salt Lizard NYC®, a company that revitalizes vintage and antique furniture for the modern day, offering a curated collection sourced globally and displayed with intention. “Incorporating antiques into one’s decor is the perfect conversation starter and it doesn’t hurt that vintage and antique furniture is well-made, long-lasting, and environmentally friendly.” Moreover, vintage and antique furniture is well-made, long-lasting, and environmentally friendly, making it a sustainable choice for conscious consumers. By blending old and new, you create a dynamic and personalized environment that tells a story and evokes a sense of timeless elegance.

2. Design with intention

When designing, consider the curatorship behind each piece and what it represents, as it adds depth and meaning to the overall aesthetic of the space.

David Rosenwasser, Co-CEO of Rarify Inc., specialized in curating iconic and authentic furniture crafted by history’s most visionary designers, shares, “In designing a modern space or interior, we like to consider the entire landscape of design history from the last 100+ years since the influential Bauhaus all the way up to today. For us, it’s about creating dialogue between pieces of furniture or design objects related to the design movement or ideology that they are results of. 

We also account for material, color, comfort, and finishes as many do in choreographing a space that feels intentional. As one example, my current living room features a red leather club chair by Dieter Rams (1962), LC2 sofa in black leather by Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret, and Charlotte Perriand (1928), Womb Chair and Ottoman in yellow fabric by Eero Saarinen (1948), and white/greyscale rug by Kurt Meinecke (1998). Textiles, planters, sculpture, artwork, and books help to build richness in the space and come from a variety of eras and materials. 

As advice, we recommend thinking about who designed something and what those designs represent, not just building a space based on how something looks.”

4. Play with patterns

Playing with patterns adds depth and visual interest to your space, creating a dynamic and lively atmosphere. Mix and match different patterns, from bold stripes to intricate florals, to infuse personality and charm into your decor.

Tracey Langford, from Dream 360 Vintage Designs based in Virginia Beach says, “One of my favorites when mixing patterns is working with plaids, polka dots and stripes. For example, If I used a striped rug, I would mix two side polka dot chairs with a plain sofa or loveseat, adding accent pillows tying all colors together. One of my favorite decorating colors is orange, it’s such a vibrant color that brings warmth to any room. So, with that said I would use orange/cream polka dot chairs with a colorful rug and a green sofa or loveseat.

The rug would have oranges, yellows, greens, blues, burnt oranges, and a hit of cream to offset the cream in the polka-dot chairs. Let’s add a glass-top coffee table to place on top of the rug, to ensure the colors aren’t lost. The finishing touches of plaid throw pillows with blues, reds, greens, yellows and hints of oranges to accent and bring in the colors to offset the rug. I would leave the windows bare offering full light to the room, not to lose the vibrant colors coming out of the room’s décor.”

5. Illuminate your space 

Update your lighting fixtures with modern designs while preserving elegance and sophistication. Suzy Chase, host of the Decorating by the Book podcast, recommends, “Update the lighting fixtures to more modern designs while maintaining a sense of elegance and sophistication. Consider pendant lights, track lighting, or sculptural floor lamps to create a focal point in the room.

Experiment with different textures to add depth and dimension to the design. Incorporate modern materials like glass, metal, or acrylic alongside traditional fabrics such as velvet, silk, or wool.

Combine traditional furniture pieces with modern ones to create an eclectic look. In my New York City apartment, I have a traditional sofa paired with a contemporary coffee table.”

6. Defy passing trends

Vintage pieces stand the test of time, transcending passing trends and ensuring your space remains timeless and enduring. Incorporating these treasures into your decor protects against fleeting fads, imbuing your home with lasting style and character.

Laura Umansky, DesignDash co-founder based in Houston, TX, shares “Selecting pieces from different eras, mixing vintage and contemporary, creates timeless spaces that are balanced and won’t fall victim to passing trends. We achieve this in a variety of different ways and it all depends on the client’s personality and lifestyle. If the overall design is more contemporary, incorporate a large-scale vintage chandelier or a new shade for a small, decorative antique lamp. 

Antique furnishings can get a modern update with bold upholstery. And you can do no wrong with vintage rugs. The goal is to be thoughtful, accenting the base of the design with surprising contrast. Really anything goes, but remember a collected interior takes time. Don’t just pick pieces that fit empty shelves. Make sure each object is meaningful, useful, or beautiful.” 

7. Your home should reflect you 

Interior design should reflect our life’s narrative, weaving together the threads of our experiences and tastes. By sourcing furniture from different eras, we infuse each room with a unique soul, creating spaces that resonate with the richness of diverse periods.

Mark Cutler from CutlerSchulze, luxury interior design firm, says, “We believe that interior design is a form of portraiture and that our homes should be able to tell the story of the families that live there. To that end, it is critical for us to mix styles and periods of furniture. Just as our lives are made of different threads, our homes should be too. Adding vintage pieces, especially ones that have some meaning, perhaps jogging a particular childhood memory or reminding us of where our families have come from, all add to the depth of experience of our home. When blended with modern pieces they create a visual timeline that speaks to the past and the future.”

CutlerSchulze

Courtesy of CutlerSchulze

8.  Rehoming vintage is sustainable

Rehoming vintage treasures not only adds character to your space but also promotes sustainability by giving new life to pre-loved items. Embracing this eco-friendly approach ensures that timeless pieces continue to enchant for generations to come.

Steve Currie Vintage Home Stores, a second-hand furniture with online delivery, shares, “Here’s how to master the look:

  • Eco-chic: Combining eras isn’t just stylish — it’s sustainable. Rehoming vintage treasures is a nod to eco-conscious living.
  • Start simple: Choose modern furniture as your canvas, adding vintage accents to inject soul and story.
  • Contrast is key: Mix textures and colors. Let the patina of vintage pieces complement the clean lines of modern design.
  • Personalize: Pick items that speak to you. A mix that feels genuine is always in vogue.”

9. Vintage furniture is timeless

Explore decorating with vintage items and furniture, as they possess a timeless quality that complements any style and often showcase unique craftsmanship. Unlike much of today’s modern furniture, vintage pieces offer unparalleled artisanal charm and character.

Upscale Consignment, a retailer that offers a seamless platform for both sellers and buyers, providing a convenient avenue to sell quality, gently used furniture, while offering customers access to like-new home furnishings and fine jewelry at significant discounts, suggests, “Combining modern and vintage pieces creates a unique aesthetic that is both timeless and contemporary. Mixing them adds character and usability to your space making it more livable and welcoming for your guests. Often, vintage pieces showcase a level of fine craftsmanship, quality, and style that is hard to find in today’s mass-produced furniture. Plus, it almost goes without saying that by purchasing furniture and decor on the secondary market from a high-end consignment store, you can achieve a high-end look without breaking the bank.”

10. Surprises in every room 

Owning pieces that serve as conversation starters adds depth and intrigue to any space. These unique items spark curiosity and invite engaging discussions, enriching the atmosphere with stories and anecdotes.

Grace Moreland, Director of Marketing at Scout Design Studio, a studio featuring customized mid-century furniture, decorator touches, and more says, “We have a penchant for mixing anything and everything, and an aversion to following the rules. We love mixing sleek acrylic with rich acacia wood or neon lights with Louis XIV chairs. We believe a home should be made up of things that you love, and with that, beauty is inevitable.

Every room needs something unexpected. We love items of intrigue that invoke a conversation and often find vintage does it best. When you have a 6-foot-tall carved mermaid in your dining room, people will always want to know her story. The best spaces are the unconventional ones with storied pieces.”

10. Follow the palette

Following a cohesive color palette sets the tone and unifies the visual aesthetic of a space. Consistency in color selection enhances harmony and creates a sense of cohesion throughout the room.

Allyson Kirkpatrick of Allyson K Designs says when beginning to redesign a room, “I typically start with something that inspires me, such as a stunning painting or a vintage area rug or even an architectural item with its charming original paint color intact. The color palette is so important. I use it to ensure a cohesive look among the many disparate periods and styles that, pulled together, make a space unique and visually interesting.”

Allyson K Designs

Courtesy of Allyson K Designs

11. Infuse nostalgia 

Incorporating vintage pieces from your own home into your decor adds a personal touch and nostalgia to your space. Infusing them into your display creates a unique and inviting atmosphere with stories to tell.

Darleen Courtney, interior home decorator from Places In The Home, shares, “Balance is essential when aiming to achieve a curated ‘past meets present’ style, and the marriage of modern decorating styles and vintage pieces complements the principle of mix and mingle. Confirmation of just that was realized one afternoon at my antique shop when a visually stunning result was achieved by pairing a formal set of Regency-period dining chairs with a primitive cypress farm table. In the grand scheme of things, the two styles could not have been further apart, but as furnishing fate would have it, a by-chance pairing produced a show-stopping look.”

12. Shop in your own space

Decorating with vintage pieces from your own home adds a personal touch and nostalgia to your space. Infusing them into your decor on display creates a unique and inviting atmosphere with stories to tell.

Courtney from One of a Find Charleston, a furniture buyer and reseller dedicated to revitalizing vintage pieces, infusing them with renewed character and charm, recommends, “Seamlessly mixing vintage pieces and new accessories can be challenging but in the end, you will have a beautiful space that will be timeless but still feel like “you.” 

Courtney 

First, shop in your own space. I love to pull bowls out of china cabinets, frame photos or artwork that may have been tucked in a drawer and “steal” pieces from other rooms that may work better in the space you are trying to create. This is an easy way to add interest and spark conversation. Then add your next layer with modern accessories. Colorful pillows, interesting coffee table books, cool lamps, and fresh drapery panels add a “new” aspect to the room that make it feel updated.  If that still isn’t doing the trick, it may be time to update your vintage piece with glossy and colorful lacquer or new and funky hardware to bring it into the 20th century. 

13. Craft dynamic spaces with strategic contrast

Following the strategy of less is more, simplicity is prioritized to amplify the impact of each element in the space. Strategically contrasting and capitalizing on unique pieces creates dynamic and visually captivating environments.

Filip Triner, Founder and CEO of Only / Once Shop, which specializes in collecting and selling iconic vintage design products from brands such as Braun, Bang & Olufsen, and more, suggests following these strategies to achieve a modern vintage look:

  • Quality over quantity: Choose vintage pieces that stand out for their design and craftsmanship. This not only ensures they become focal points in your space but also champions the ethos of sustainability and mindful consumption.
  • Highlight unique stories: Every vintage item carries a history. Highlighting this aspect can add depth to your decor. For insights into the minds behind these iconic designs, visit our Dieter Rams profile to understand how his principles of good 
  • Contrast and cohesion: Mix items from different eras to create contrast yet strive for a cohesive look through color, material, or design philosophy. The Braun collection, detailed on our Braun Collection page, showcases items that, despite their vintage origin, speak the language of modern aesthetics through their minimalistic design and functionality.”

14. The essential role of staple elements

In certain rooms, incorporating staple elements can infuse a sense of freshness and uniqueness. These foundational pieces serve as anchors, providing a cohesive backdrop for personalized accents to shine.

Mirell Gallo and Celeste Marshall from the New Orleans Historic Homes team at Rêve Realtors mention, “My go-to vintage and modern combination is a semi-antique Persian rug and a classic mid-century light fixture in the same room. These two elements go with almost any kind of decor and architecture while adding the juxtaposition of old and new that makes a space feel fresh and dynamic. 

Every room needs a piece of brown wood furniture — preferably a vintage piece that shows some age and patina. This makes even a modern space feel warm, layered, and nuanced. Alternatively, a piece of art or a mirror with a vintage brass-toned frame does the trick.”

15. Start with a natural palette 

Starting with a neutral palette lays a versatile foundation, allowing you to experiment with pops of color gradually. Take your time in selecting pieces that resonate with you, ensuring each addition contributes to the ambiance you desire.

“Having worked with vintage and modern furniture my whole professional life, I can tell you that several keys make the space work,” says Douglas Wren from Modern Vintage Furniture, A premier assembly and restoration furniture company specializing in iconic pieces by USM Haller and Richard Schultz.

“We find that choosing a neutral palette and incorporating a favorite color for that ‘pop’ we’re all looking for can be the easiest way to make a statement. Also, you can change up that vibrant color as your tastes or feelings evolve. Many people are discovering their style while integrating a few cherished pieces and finding ways to blend them with a different aesthetic. Mixing items you already love with new-to-you vintage or modern elements works beautifully — just take it slow and don’t rush into anything all at once.”

16. Incorporating vintage fashion 

As fashion trends evolve, many find themselves drawn to the timeless allure of vintage pieces. Incorporating vintage fashion into modern interior design adds a unique touch of character and nostalgia to any space.

Maggie Wilds, from Vintage Fashion Guild, an international organization committed to the celebration and conservation of vintage fashion, recommends, “For the sentimentalist, many have family history in the form of clothing and accessories, often tucked away and forgotten. Instead of simply framing a photo of someone you want to remember, consider protecting and preserving more of their story in a shadowbox frame. Frame a baptismal gown and baby photos, or a necklace, gloves, and lace handkerchief with a photo of the loved one who used the items.

For the mid-century kitsch lover, cheerful vintage aprons can be used across a line to curtain your kitchen or breakfast nook. The half aprons that were once ubiquitous often represent DIY in the most charming way, with mid-century prints, interesting trims, and extras like ruffles.

For the modernist, set a tone with a grouping of framed scarves or handkerchiefs. Vintage Vera scarves are particularly artful, and many of Vera Neumann’s designs are akin to fine art.”

17. Source your items

When it comes to infusing your space with vintage charm, sourcing items from resalers or local flea markets offers a treasure trove of unique finds waiting to be discovered. From quaint knick-knacks to timeless furniture pieces, these venues provide an authentic touch that adds character and depth to your decor. 

LA-based, full-service design studio, Alexandra Peck Design shares, “I source a plethora of vintage pieces from tables to upholstered seating, to antique rugs, accessories, and lighting. I enjoy their juxtaposition when paired with modern decor elements or bespoke, custom-made pieces that I’ll have fabricated just for that client.

Items made of wood and/or metal are the most long-lasting, but I frequently purchase upholstered items and have new cushion inserts made as well as reupholster the item in a contemporary fabric to give the piece a modern twist.

My recommendation is to stroll through your local flea market or resale store and see what pieces speak to you. Finding these little treasures that you connect with is what will make your home stand out amongst your neighbors.”

18. How to harmonize with color and texture

To harmonize with color and contrast, it’s essential to select a cohesive color palette that seamlessly runs through both your vintage and modern pieces, creating a unified visual experience. Additionally, integrating various textures throughout your decor can subtly unite old and new elements, enhancing the overall harmony of the design.

Eric Morrison from TourWizard, a real estate virtual tours software provider, says, “The keys to achieving this design harmoniously are:

  • The neutral base: Use neutral colors for walls and large furniture pieces. This creates a versatile backdrop that allows vintage and modern elements to stand out without clashing.
  • Mixing textures: Combining different textures and materials can subtly integrate the old with the new, like pairing a modern sofa with a plush vintage rug, or modern metal light fixtures above an antique dining table.
  • Unite through color and contrast: Color can be a powerful tool in combining vintage and modern aesthetics. Choose a cohesive color palette that runs through both your vintage and modern pieces or use contrasting colors to highlight each style.”

19. Blend beauty and functionality

Virginia Napoleone from intOndo, an Italian marketplace for art, design and vintage furniture, suggests, “Every decor project is a reflection of our unique personality and we should not be afraid to unleash our inner style. Blending vintage and modern decor today is easier than ever: there are endless online and offline sources on both sides for lighting, seating, furniture and much more. There are no fixed rules, you can select contemporary, textured rugs to define different areas and incorporate an iconic design table (best if original) or a reupholstered vintage armchair to add character. 

I find that a room always works well when you reach a good balance between beauty and function, one does not exclude the other. When you pick a pair of vintage Murano glass sconces for your newly renovated living room they will make a whole world of a difference. They don’t necessarily need to be there just as a source of light; they will delight you and your guests even when they are turned off, as works of art.”

20. Opt for Scandinavian mid-century furniture

Scandinavian mid-century design, renowned for its simplicity, functionality, and natural elements, seamlessly blends with both vintage and modern decor elements.

“Embrace the fusion of vintage and modern decor to craft a unique and eclectic style that infuses character and charm into any space.” Furniture refurbisher and seller, STØV Vintage Furniture Design goes on to share, “Scandinavian mid-century design, renowned for its simplicity, functionality, and natural elements, continues to influence contemporary aesthetics seamlessly. Delve into the clean lines and minimalistic ethos characteristic of Scandinavian design, opting for furniture and decor pieces with timeless appeal and sleek silhouettes. 

Blend vintage Scandinavian mid-century pieces with contemporary furnishings for an eclectic yet cohesive ambiance, pairing classic mid-century dining tables with modern chairs or integrating vintage lighting fixtures with minimalist decor accessories. Embrace the concept of “hygge,” fostering coziness and comfort by layering soft textiles such as plush rugs and cushions to create inviting and intimate spaces.”

21. Crafting uniqueness and authenticity

Embracing authenticity and the allure of one-of-a-kind pieces that you personally own, not commonly found elsewhere, elevates the essence of mixing vintage with modern contemporary decor.

Capsule, Detroit-based online shop specializing in vintage MCM furniture, shares, “Mixing vintage with modern contemporary decor is no longer a trend but an established method for achieving the perfectly balanced look. This approach, widely used by designers, gives homeowners a broader palette to mix texture, color, material, and, most importantly, style to achieve a look that is unique and authentic. It’s easy to buy the same contemporary pieces of furniture from the same stores that everyone else is buying. Vintage gives you a powerful tool to take your decor to the next level with one-of-a-kind, quality pieces that not only have long-lasting value but also truly personalize your space.”





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