Innerspace – A vintage interior (redux)

Photo Nathalie Pecht for The Independent

To share with you my obsession with vintage and unusual interiors, I am going to visit a few interesting houses in the next few weeks. Some of them are my friends’ houses, some of them belong to artists, the only thing they have in common is that I absolutely love them. I will be going to their flats and poking around, taking photos and bugging them to know where they found everything.

To introduce this new feature, I thought I would re-post an article I wrote giving decoration tips to turn your house or flat into a vintage paradise.

❤ Choose a theme

It is much easier to decorate a room once you have a theme in mind. Be it a colour scheme, film or music inspiration or a specific era, it will facilitate your job & search. Here are the themes I chose for my house: enchanted forest (living room), 50s diner (kitchen, how original), museum (hallway).

❤ Make a list

Once you have your theme, the best thing is to make a very precise list of what you want. For my living room for example, I wanted china animals from the 50s & 60s, ideally a plush deer head, hunting decoys etc. For the hallway, I am after various old paintings of Lynch amongst others. Write everything down, and when you next head to a jumble sale, take your list with you. It will help you scan the mess for the hidden gems. To make lists, I like to go on Listography.

❤ Find good places

With a list burning your pocket, you have to find good places to go get your junk. I have a confession for you… I never EVER go to car boot sales. I know a lot of people who swear by them and find amazing stuff all the time. All I see when I think about them is getting up early and looking at endless piles of tatty tee-shirts & broken playstations. I prefer charity shops (they also have tatty tee-shirts and broken playstations, but at least they open all day) or small antiques shop. I used to look on eBay a lot, but nowadays everything on there is too expensive.

❤ Do your research

Get some books about the eras of design you like. Read them, take notes. I am really nerdy about decoration (and everything in general), so I like to know what I am talking about. This is also a good way to know a bargain when you see one. I have an Ercol table & an Arkana tulip table. They each cost me £1. Because I knew how to identify them straight away. Knowing your designers, in vintage decoration and in vintage fashion can save you a lot of time and effort.

❤ Make it work

Throwing together a bunch of vintage items doesn’t necessarily make a stylish home. It can also look like a bric à brac. The important thing is to manage to mix the old and the new and keep people guessing. If all the furniture and trinkets blend together, then it should be hard to tell the vintage from the new.

❤ Don’t be afraid of change

Sometimes, finding the perfect look for a room comes straight away, but most of the time, it takes a while and some living in. My friends generally laugh at me because each time they come over something has moved in the flat. It is because I am constantly looking for the perfect place for everything. I used to avoid being in my living room because I found it a bit cold, once the furniture was swapped around a bit, it became a lovely room to hang out in.

❤ Paint

If you find that you have all the right furniture but your flat still doesn’t feel vintage enough, do some period research and look into paint colours & textures. There are some very good books about this, but the best would be to find an original decoration book from the era you are going for.

❤ Focus on one room at a time

If you progress one room at a time, you will give yourself time to think and identify exactly what you need in each room. And add to your list. For example a G-Plan sideboard in the bedroom, an Eames rocker in the living room, a modernist desk in the study etc. You don’t want to end up with all the nice stuff in one room and all IKEA in the rest of the house.

If you think your house is a decoration gem and you would like me to come and poke around, please email me or leave a comment below, I would love to see what you’ve done with the place.