garden statuary as indoor artwork

Decorating with vintage items can work with any style of home decor. Whether you love Modern, Country, Rustic, Cottage or Traditional interiors,  injecting your space with vintage and antique objects add warmth and  personality to your home and provide you with one of a kind finishing touches that you just can’t get with only store bought furnishings.  Vintage splashes throughout your home will provide you with texture, color, sparkle, character and playfulness.  I thought I would show you how I use “vintage” in my own home.  Hopefully it might make you think differently about the box of odds and ends that is sitting in your attic waiting to be rediscovered.

stone urn

As you can see from the above two pictures, I love garden decor and I don’t limit myself to using it in the garden only.  A beautiful piece of statuary becomes a lovely sculpture in the sunroom and my little stone urn becomes the nesting spot for my Trader Joe’s orchid.  I have a small collection of vintage pots scattered around the house that I use to decorate my table, corral my silver and hold photographs.

old world stone planter

I keep an eye out for vintage or antique stone planters whenever I am out browsing the flea markets.  If it is chipped, it doesn’t matter to me  because it is better for my pocketbook in the long run.  There is nothing prettier than a moss covered stone planter filled with flowers or herbs.  The older the planter the better – I say.

garden candle sconce

This is one of my favorite finds … my garden candle sconce that is attached to my pergola on the deck.  It is an old light fixture essentially without it’s guts.  The patina is so lovely and it fits perfectly on the column.  Adding a small hurricane glass and candle is the finishing touch. (I just removed the rusty wiring and other useless bits)

bird in glass cloche
vintage books

An old glass cloche instantly creates a little tableau for my coffee table by capturing a bronze bird sculpture and an abandoned nest beneath it.  I collect vintage books so I can use the pages for my artwork and sometimes I like to group some of the special books together with twine and place them on a mantel or a bookshelf for some visual interest.

linen bucket

Moving inside to the kitchen, I’ve got a fantastic old blue bucket that I use to throw my dirty kitchen linens and napkins into.  It sits at the end of my island and after dinner when the plates are rinsed and loaded into the dishwasher all the linens are gathered and thrown in the bucket.  Here they sit until it is time for laundry.

antique cutting boards

I collect old cutting boards – for some reason food prep is that much more fun on these oversized pieces of wood with a past.  If you happen across one of these beauties – just clean, lightly sand and then oil with butcher block oil.  Then they are ready to use for the next generation.

vintage trunk

Who can’t use another trunk or a stool?  I found this trunk for almost no money.  A quick cleaning and waxing to bring it back to life and then I slipped it underneath my sofa table.  I’ve got a collection of things under there – more like organized chaos that looks rather lovely I think.

vintage tray and compote

You might notice that I like to corral things – kind of like an East Coast ranch hand – I guess. My favorite “finds” from one of my treasure hunts – a lovely brass tray that needed a little love and a gorgeous copper compote grouped together with another one of those great Trader Joe’s orchids.  These beauties were neglected items in a corner of a stall but I knew they were special.  Once I got them home, I gave them a little buffing and put them in a place of honor – then they just glowed.

vintage bamboo ladder 

In the living room I placed a vintage bamboo ladder between our fireplace and an antique chair that we found on Portobello Rd in London many years ago.  We use the ladder as our blanket holder. Perfect to grab on cold nights when snuggled up on the couch.   You could do the same thing with towels in a bathroom or magazines in an office or family room.

vintage lantern

I found this lantern at a vintage store.  It was sitting outside in a place reminiscent of “The Island of Misfit Toys”.  It was the color that got to me – it didn’t matter that it was banged up. Actually, that was part of the appeal.  I knew it would look special sitting pride of place on my dining room table – and it does.

So what do you do when you go to an antique/vintage market or a neighborhood flea market and feel overwhelmed by all the chippy, dusty and dented items that are piled on top of each other?  How do you decide what is trash and what is treasure ? And, lastly, why is it that some people can pick up what looks like “junk” to you and make it a showstopper in their own homes?  These are some of the questions that friends have asked me when we’ve been on our treasure hunts to Brimfield.  I think the biggest challenge that people face is the ability to see things with different eyes – decorator eyes to be exact.  You need to bring your imagination into the game and a few wet-wipes to remove the dirt.  Being able to “see” or imagine the object in the light of a freshly painted space or a beautifully lit room instead of a dirty and chaotic parking lot is the first step to recognizing a treasure.  The second step requires a little homework on your part.  You need to flip through decorating magazines and books and keep a little notebook of things that you are looking for or things that strike you as beautiful.  The other trick is to repurpose an item that intrigues you … “can that wire basket work as the industrial light fixture that you’ve had your eyes on forever?” Or in the case of that neglected lantern sitting on my table now … can that be the showstopper piece that I was looking for?

vintage oval vase Nelley Kelley Designs

This oval vase is definitely a treasure.  It has a great shape with a lovely flower etching around it.  As if that isn’t enough, it has a frog top to help you with your flower arranging.   I knew as soon as I saw this that it was a keeper and that it would look stunning in any home. So I bought it for my shop or maybe I’ll just have to keep it for myself.

all dressed up!

Now this is a show-stopper piece!  Thanks to Winston Flowers for the gorgeous arrangement.  Keep your eyes open for uncommon pieces or objects that just speak to you.  Is it the shape, the texture or the sparkle that catches your eye? Whatever it is go with your gut and try to imagine it all dressed up and sitting in your home.


Hope to see you soon,


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