Decorating with antiques doesn’t have to feel stale, stuffy, or pretentious. Depending on your vintage design aesthetic, you may like a wide variety of vintage items—ranging in value from a few dollars to a few hundred or more. However, the following antique items don’t cost much and are items most vintage lovers would enjoy.
When decorating your home in an antique style, the key is to make these items your own; present them in a way that will showcase your personality. Here’s how to transform antiques from looking like pieces from grandma’s house to looking like treasures from your house.
1Ball Blue Mason Jars
What was once a means of preserving fruits and vegetables prior to modern refrigeration is now primarily used in home decor. Let’s face it, if you’re going to venture into canning today, you probably won’t want to use your vintage Ball jars to do it.
Vintage mason jars (like Atlas jars) from the late 19th and early 20th centuries are highly collectible and very easy to incorporate into a farmhouse-style kitchen. Depending on the color, condition, and rarity, you could be talking about a vast difference in price.
The most common color you’ll find aside from clear is blue, and with enough persistence, you will find many of these at antique malls, flea markets, and even garage sales.
2Reclaimed Wood Box
When we ship things today, an Amazon Prime cardboard box might come to mind, or basic pallets if we’re thinking larger scale. But back then, so many things were transported in wooden crates, regardless of whether the product was for a single consumer or a large distributor. These crates were signifiers of quality. The better the advertising and the more elaborate the box, the better the contents.
Wood can withstand a lot of wear and tear, which is lucky for us because many of these advertising crates are still around and are relatively easy to find. What’s better, though, is how wood transforms over time. Those deep gray tones, knicks, and worn-out lettering make these all the more desirable. When using a reclaimed box for decor (and not collecting purposes), the more aged, the better!
3Glazed Pottery Planter
Taste in pottery is a very personal thing, but when it comes to decorating with antiques, you really should find some vintage planters to mix in with your decor. Dating, assessing and otherwise valuing pottery is quite the process. Not only are there hundreds of pottery hallmarks to familiarize yourself with, values are constantly fluctuating.
If pottery has a hallmark at all, that is generally a good sign. But unsigned pottery can have its place on Antiques Roadshow depending on the origin. My advice is to just shop for what catches your eye. If you get lucky with some remarkable find, great. If not, you won’t feel terrible planting tons of plants inside.
I like drip glazes in greens and turquoise—the more imperfect, the better!
4Antique Book Stack
Before I really started getting into and collecting antique jewelry, I was into collecting antique books. As an English major, I prided myself on finding and owning early editions, signed copies, etc. I even put a set of books on layaway for what seemed to be an eternity at the time.
For decorating purposes, find vintage books with interesting covers in similar color patterns and create a book stack for your living room. Also, collect vintage books based on your interests and hobbies. These books that are less expensive are meant to be opened, touched, read, and explored. No need for dust jackets and extreme care here.
5Gold Washed Frames
I used to be such an antique purist that I couldn’t fathom taking old prints out of their original frames. That frame was not being reused no matter how ugly the print. My only hope was finding old frames that didn’t have anything inside.
Nowadays, unless the print is an original limited series by a famous artist, I don’t have any problem mixing the frames up with art that is more aligned with my taste. I will note that I’m talking about art prints, which are mass-produced copies of art. If something is handpainted, that sucker is staying in the frame.
The best use of old frames is to create an eclectic gallery wall. Sometimes the original print stays, sometimes not. The point is to collect the vintage frames, not necessarily the prints. A gold-washed frame with subtle detailing is perfect for a vintage lover’s walls.