HOW TO

Mix Old With New: A Guide To Designing With Vintage

Combine the best of old and new with vintage queen Kate Pearce’s tips for designing your home.

Kate Says…

Yes, my love of vintage runs deep, but that doesn’t mean every piece in my home holds that vintage label. In order to make the old sparkle, it’s important to incorporate, well, some new!

How do you choose which pieces to buy new versus vintage?

I start with the bones of the room and decide if there is anything that needs to be new. For example, in our recent kitchen renovation, I was adamant about having new appliances and countertops. As charming as those mid-century appliances are, it’s best to have functional pieces working at max capacity, and if you’d like a vintage flair there are some great companies that offer vintage style in new appliances, such as Big Chill and SMEG. In living spaces, I like my upholstery to be new.

Design by Kate Pearce Vintage

Though I often buy vintage furniture, I always have these pieces reupholstered in more modern fabrics to keep the look current. Often, it is more economical to buy upholstered pieces new and there are many companies offering vintage-inspired lines of furniture. In fact, mid-century style, in particular, has become mainstream.

Are there any items that you prefer to be authentic vintage?

Yes! Rugs are a big one. There is something about that worn-in, loved look of a vintage rug that can’t be beat. Many new rugs are also mass-produced and simply lack the quality of vintage rugs. Decorative items, such as statuary and books, are also much more charming when they are of the vintage variety. Since vintage style is so on-trend right now, many companies try to mimic the style and patina of authentic vintage, but it’s never as good as the real thing.

I am also a big advocate of vintage collections. I have been known to collect a host of vintage items, including globes, silhouette portraits, enamelware, glassware, etc. and these items have such an incredible amount of charm when they are placed in groups. My silhouette collection, in particular, is one of my most prized possessions. Each one tells a different story, and I find it endlessly fascinating how telling a monotone rendering of a person’s profile can be. When grouped together, they make a real statement and an unmatched conversation-starter.

Any advice on how to score some unique vintage pieces?

Design by Kate Pearce Vintage

It’s a really exciting time for the vintage market since the internet and globalization have made it easier than ever to get your hands on vintage from across the globe, rather than being limited to your neighbor’s annual garage sale. I lose endless hours perusing Etsy, eBay, Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace to score great vintage. But there is truly nothing more satisfying (and nothing cheaper!) than going the old-school route of hopping online for that estate sale or hitting up your local flea markets and thrift shops. There is something absolutely intoxicating about the hunt – and it’s truly the best way to score that incredible heirloom that you didn’t even know you were looking for.

For me, that’s what makes a home decorated with authentic vintage stand out; those funky, unique conversation-starters that you never would have found on the internet because you never would have thought to type it into Google search. And there’s something very refreshing about this idea that the internet could never hold a candle to the possibilities buried under the piles of a centenarian’s basement.

How do you style vintage pieces with newer pieces?

It’s important to get the right ratio of old versus new. Too much of the former will result in a space feeling dated and too much of the latter will lack dimension. Eclectic style is at the heart of my designs and I simply love how the old and new play off of each other in a space: the newer pieces offer the older pieces a sense of modernity, while the older pieces give the newer pieces some oft-needed character. So what is the correct ratio? There is no magic number. But when you nail it, you’ll know.

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