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Styling Tips for Vintage Furniture + Accessories

Plus, the best stores for shopping vintage furniture and accessories in Toronto

By Designlines

Nostalgia is a powerful tool, and vintage furniture is one of the most effective ways of evoking it in your home. This retro outfitting looks back to earlier eras of late-19th and 20th century decor—incorporating specific style elements that are rare or simply unavailable today. If done correctly, these features add warmth, character and a curated feel to a space without aging it. Here are some tips to style vintage furniture and accessories with lasting appeal.

IN8 Design Inc. vintage lighting
photography by Bob Gundu and Paul Orenstein

Let there be light

Pendants and lamps in metal or glass shades offer a classic touch to rooms dressed up or down. Find them in pastel-coloured or milky finishes for a truly retro style. In this colourful condo by IN8 Design Inc., a prismatic teal lamp by Foscarini is perfectly suited for ’70s-inspired outfitting.

Ethel 20th Century Living sofa
photography by Alex McLeod

Go bold with feature furniture

In the home of visual artist Alex McLeod, rooms are stocked with curiosities, heirlooms and vintage finds. This reclaimed sofa from Ethel 20th Century Living sets the tone in his quaint and sun-filled living room.

home of Deborah Wang
photography by Deborah Wang

Add variety with mixed seating

A seating nook in DesignTO artistic director Deborah Wang’s West End Victorian balances old and new by pairing a vintage bench with a fibreglass Eames rocker. Without leaning too far toward vintage or modern, the space maintains an approachable, transitional style using vintage furniture.

bright home with vintage rug
photography by Arash Moallemi

Use a timeless rug

Vintage furniture and accessories are meant to add a warm, homey feeling to your interiors. In this airy mid-century modern house by interior design and construction firm ben homes, a vintage kilim rug grounds the space and adds contrast without clashing.

vintage stereos, Ness Lee art
photography by Zachary Hertzman

Shop vintage gadgets

Small spaces, like this industrial build turned modern loft, often require furnishings that are simultaneously functional and decorative. A vintage stereo and oak-framed speakers are examples of retro tech that are as practical as they are eclectic.

velvet drapes
photography by Arash Moallemi

Dress up in velvet

Certain textures are immediate indicators of a decade in design. If you find inspiration in the sultry hues and velvety textures of 1960s and ’70s design, like the owners of this renovated home in Burlington’s Roseland community, vintage drapes are the perfect outlet for maximum impact. Less of a commitment than bulky vintage furniture pieces, drapes and curtains are easily swappable.

Geary Avenue loft
photography by Arash Moallemi

Reach for repurposed objects

An old shuffleboard turned kitchen island is a one-of-a-kind statement piece in this revitalized Geary Avenue loft. Giving old steps new life, the owners kept hold of a vintage library ladder as well, which is used to access the mezzanine sitting space that overlooks the room.

stained glass windows
photography by Steven Evans

Emphasize what you’ve got

If you’re not working with a modern build, vintage styling can be as simple as showcasing classical features already present in the home. Vintage elements of this renovated Georgian home by Wayback Architects, for example, remain in stained-glass windows on the second floor.

Drake Devonshire vintage art
photography by Nikolas Koenig

Add to your art collection

Vintage furniture shopping can require a certain amount of patience, especially if you’re taking the antique or auction route. However, vintage art is oftentimes much easier to access. Local thrift shops and flea markets are great starting points to pick up unique paintings, sketches or textile art already framed and ready for hanging. In this suite at The Drake Devonshire, vintage artworks serve as counterpoints to the brightly coloured walls and new, barn-like additions.

Shopping vintage? Here are our favourite vintage stores in the GTHA for reclaimed furniture and accessories. 


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