living room

Tips for Mixing Vintage and Modern for a Cozy But Refreshed Style

You love the old original farmhouse look, but despite your adoration of antiques, you don’t want your home to start to look…well…too antiquey. What should you do? Use vintage and antique pieces, but mix them with new or modern elements. Although it can be a bit more involved than that, that’s the basic idea. Mixing is the key. Here are my tips for adding vintage appeal to your home while still maintaining a modern aesthetic. 


Don’t be afraid to mix vintage and modern pieces

You want to avoid an aesthetic that appears dated and stuffy. You can achieve this by mixing styles. If you have all antiques, it’ll start to feel like grandma’s house. Grandma’s house isn’t necessarily a bad place, but when antique pieces begin to take over your house, they can start to look and feel stuffy, dusty, and old. The old and the new should always be balanced depending on the room. For example, a living room can have an up-to-date, sturdy, new-er sectional, but adding a couple of antique or vintage chairs can visually balance things to avoid the overly modern look. An antique farmhouse table with sleek steel chairs and a vintage rug looks great in the dining room, especially if balanced with a vintage console table and a gallery of modern and antique art pieces hanging above it.

A new purpose

One way to go vintage in a fresh way is to the pieces a new purpose. I like to use antiques in a way that may not serve the same purpose as intended. For example, you can use a dry antique sink as a flower cutting station in your kitchen. Take vintage fruit crates and hang them on the wall as shelving. Use old brining crocks to hold umbrellas and field hockey sticks at your entryway. Do you have an old antique sled, skis, or snowshoes? Hang them on the wall as art!

books stacked on floor and daffodils


It’s possible to bring too many antique bits and bobs home. My rule is that when I bring something in, something needs to be taken out (sold, given to someone, or off to the thrift store it goes). This principle will help you keep your treasures under control and not overcrowd your home with vintage stuff. While the term “curated” is as tired as an old tire, in the design world, it’s a good idea only to bring those items home that you really love!

Some Definite Don’ts

While incorporating antique items to help contrast some of the modern elements in your farm home, there are definitely some items that will instantly give off an old, stuffy vibe. Here is my suggestion for antique (and antique-like) items to NOT overuse (or even use if you can help it) if you don’t want your home to start feeling a little bit too vintagey.

  1. Keep doilies to a bare minimum.
  2. Don’t overdo lace curtains. Do NOT buy or use polyester lace.
  3. Keep ruffles (ruffled curtains, ruffled throw pillows, a ruffled couch…) to a very, very bare minimum.
  4. Don’t go to Marshalls and load up on cheap renditions of antique items. If it’s supposed to look antique, it’s not going to – it’s going to look cheap. I recommend shopping at thrift stores over stores like Marshalls, especially if your home has an authentic vintage/antique look.
  5. Unless you live at the beach, refrain from decorating with shells or shell-themed anything.
  6. I love dried flowers but be very, very judicious with them. And once they start to look dusty, dump them.
  7. Don’t overuse a bunch of little frames filled with photos on a little table in the living room. Instead, create a wall gallery in a more private area of the home.
  8. Limit the amount of brown wood you use in a room. There should really only be three pieces of brown wood furniture in a living room, and less if it’s a very small living room.
  10. Vertical blinds. They should have never been invented. They are not cool, they are not retro, they are very bad. Just don’t.

Hopefully, some of the info in this post will help you refrain from overdoing it with antique-y decor in your farmhouse. I know some people just like the antique look and don’t want anything modern disturbing their antiques. But if you, like me, prefer a mix, then keep curating, re-purposing, and mixing up your vintage pieces to keep your home feeling and looking refreshed and cozy. If you have any tips of your own or comments, please share them below!

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