A guide to mixing vintage with contemporary

Mixing vintage and contemporary style in our top-floor bedroom | H is for Home

The love for a vintage article – what’s the story behind the item? Where has it come from? Who loved it before you? What made them cherish it to the point that it’s survived the years of a throwaway society? There’s something comforting about vintage pieces whether it be a recognition of it from the films & TV we adore, or just a respect for its manufacture and survival.

Vintage industrial metal cabinet with antique rustic chair | H is for Home

With a little thoughtfulness and planning these relics from the past can be incorporated into our modern, busy lives and homes. The trick to getting vintage right is getting the balance between vintage and contemporary. There are no hard and fast rules, but it’s essential to get the balance right: too much vintage industrial and your living space can feel like a factory, too much rustic or shabby chic and the space can feel twee and staged. To develop cohesiveness, you need a combination of both vintage and modern, and a select few transitional pieces to bridge the gap between styles and eras.

Antique armchair with bright cushion and trio of vintage West German fat lava floor vases | H is for Home

Balance can be achieved by cleverly using colour, pattern and texture; proportion is key to all of these elements. You don’t want to overdo one aspect of your style preferences. Complementing accents of colour can be used in textiles and accessories to both unite and subtly support your vintage piece in its surroundings, turning it into an eye-catching focal point.

Vintage industrial trolley being used as a coffee table with contemporary metal drawers | H is for Home

Balance is critical when combining two very different styles; however, don’t be scared to contrast. Contrast adds interest to your design, and to have foolproof success, consider the largest piece of furniture and accessorize with contrasting items. Install a modern crystal chandelier over a vintage velvet chesterfield, or dress it with cushions of modern fabrics; place an antique lamp on an ultra-modern table. The options to contrast are limitless, and care needs to be taken not to create a haphazard, chaotic space. You want it to feel that the items in the room have been curated organically and not ordered straight from the page of a magazine. Choose one or two contrasting finishes to avoid visual chaos: sometimes less is more!

Pair of antique leather club chairs - one with a contemporary cushion from MADE.com - in front of a wood-burning stove | H is for Home

The age of everything being matched with theme-y precision is long gone. The most inspiring and attractive rooms are those that combine furniture, colours, textures and patterns that are both old and new, in a way that feels unique and effortless but breath-taking. Mixing vintage and contemporary styles allows you to be bold and reflect your personality and individuality.

Red contemporary floor lamp with antique stool and vintage West German fat lava vases | H is for Home

If you still feel something is interrupting the flow of your room, take some time out before looking at it again. If something still niggles, remove one of the objects and take another look. Sometimes a specific item can throw the room out and affect the overall look; you just need to resist the urge to add more to the room! Grouping together too many accessories of opposing design style can easily turn the look of your lounge into a garage sale.

Contemporary 'Rain rain go away' framed poster with collection of vintage gardening books | H is for Home

When you’ve finished decorating and styling the room, take a step back and survey it. Is it working? If it’s not quite right, it might feel like the obvious solution is to add more to the space; more colour, more furniture, more accessories. Instead, you should do the opposite. Remove items one by one to see if it’s a specific item (or items) affecting the overall look. In the words of Coco Chanel, “Less is always more”.

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6 ways to bring sunlight indoors

6 ways to bring sunlight indoors

If some of the rooms in your home are on the dark side and could do with brightening up, there are lots of different tricks you can use to bring sunlight indoors.

Two Velux-type windows in a bedroom

Skylights

Installing a skylight or Velux-type window has one of the most dramatic effects possible, allowing sunlight to flood in from the open sky above. They really can transform a space from dark & dingy to light & airy. There are lots of attractive blinds on the market specifically for this type of window from manufacturers such as Roofwindows.co.uk.

Bathroom with a mirrored wall

Mirrors

Mirrors are a great, inexpensive way of increasing the amount of sunlight coming into your home. Placed strategically opposite a window, they bounce and reflect light around a space. They work especially well on dark stairways and bathrooms.

Desk and chair against a brilliant white wall

Reflective walls

Various companies have developed interior wall paints which contain light-reflective particles. It’s a subtle, clever way to maximise natural light entering the property.

Glazed internal sliding doors

Glazed doors

Glazed doors (both exterior and interior) can make a real difference to the amount of light entering a house and dispersing it throughout the rooms contained within. B&Q have a huge range of glazed doors – traditional, folding and sliding. Similarly, glazed wall panels can divide up larger open plan spaces – creating defined zones for living without blocking light. They’ll need to be made of toughened glass if safety considerations demand it of course – small children or boisterous pets running round, for example.

Daylight bulbs

Daylight bulbs

If you have a room that is windowless and at the centre of the house, you can easily fake natural sunlight these days. There are now specialist bulbs on the market that mimic sunlight, illuminating your room with a sunny glow.

Open-plan living area

Remove unnecessary partition walls

If it’s not load-bearing, removing a wall won’t require the installation of an RSJ – and should be relatively inexpensive. If it’s made of plasterboard rather than solid stone or concrete it’s even easier! Removing walls between kitchen and dining rooms has become common practice. One of the major benefits of this is to allow light to flow between the front and back of the house. Other common areas where this can have a dramatic ‘opening up’ effect is the hallway, landing and larder areas.

Can you think of any other great ways to bring sunlight indoors? We’d really love to hear your thoughts.

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Get their look: Harry’s room

Harry's roomcredit

We’ve probably said it before on here, children’s spaces need not be devoid of good design and décor; they can be quite discerning individuals too! A case in point is the boy’s bedroom as shown above. Harry’s room is decorated thoughtfully and tastefully in red, navy and grey. It’s furnished with design classics such as a red Anglepoise desk lamp and John Moncrieff’s balloon lights. A young person’s room that they won’t grow out of in a hurry!

  1. Seletti Suburbia wall storage solution by Design Note Studio
  2. Memory Balloon ceiling lights by John Moncrieff
  3. Lorna Syson Warwick ‘Red Sky’ fabric
  4. Casadeco Jules et Julie wallpaper
  5. Badger cushion, red
  6. Anglepoise Type 75 mini desk lamp – Signal Red
  7. Wooden train personalised with a name
  8. Phineas desk

Get their look: Harry's room | H is for Home

Get their look: Open-plan garage conversion

Open-plan garage conversioncredit

You’d never have guessed that this open plan garage conversion in Sicily was once upon a time a place where vehicles would have been repaired. It’s obviously a former industrial or commercial building with nods to its previous incarnation in the exposed zinc pipes and painted bare brick walls.

What would probably have been a fairly dirty workplace has been completely transformed by the owner into a bright, pristine, white box for relaxed living.

  1. Verner Panton Topan pendant light
  2. New & reclaimed chestnut sleepers
  3. Post-modern tessellated marble coffee or cocktail table
  4. Evan round planter (50 cm Ø)
  5. Rope doorstop
  6. Patricia Urquiola Tufty–Time sofa

Click here to see some more of the interiors & exteriors we’ve featured in our Get their look series.

Get their look: Open-plan garage conversion | H is for Home

Get their look: Feminine Scandi dining room

Feminine Scandi dining roomcredit

This feminine Scandi dining room is the domain of Pernille and her family. She’s a blogger, Instagrammer and homeware shop owner based over in Denmark.

The repetition of deep purple, soft pink and grey is very pleasing on the eye. The deep, wine colour on the right-hand wall is Sadolin‘s ‘Shady Red’. The light pink colour on the far wall is ‘Soft Blush’ from the same company. ‘Creme de la Rose’ by Crown is very similar to the latter, and is available here in the UK. The glossy, white-painted floorboards bounce sunlight up & around the room.

Soft textiles, potted cacti, hanging kokedama and framed artwork give a homely feel.

  1. Galaxy Globe mobile, large, dark green
  2. Nordic Tales Bright Spot pendant
  3. Hanging succulent kokedama
  4. Livink Braid pillows
  5. by Lassen – Kubus 4 candle holder, brass
  6. We Design magazine holder
  7. Hans Wegner Y chair (CH24)
  8. Crown matt emulsion paint Creme de la Rose
  9. Hay Loop stand table
  10. Large sheepskin rugs

Get their look: Feminine Scandi dining room | H is for Home

A new look for our top floor bedroom

Dark decorated top floor bedroom | H is for Home

We’ve mentioned our top floor bedroom a few times in past posts. It’s been well over ten years since it was last decorated so a spruce up has been long overdue. We thought we’d share a few photos of progress to date.

Our dark-decorated top floor bedroom | H is for Home

We love this room. It’s our retreat of choice in the evening – particularly dark, cold winter evenings when we light the stove, watch TV, listen to music or work on the computer – all from the comfort of bed!

Our dark-decorated top floor bedroom | H is for Home

We like the structural ‘bones’ of the space with its exposed stone wall and original, wide floorboards.

Our dark-decorated top floor bedroom | H is for Home

It was a great opportunity to introduce some darker colours into our home décor which we’ve intended to do for many years! These shades have a real sense of atmosphere and drama – particularly on said dark winter evenings with fires, candles and fairy lights flickering away.

Our dark-decorated top floor bedroom | H is for Home

They look good by daylight too – contrasting very well with warm natural shades of wood and wicker – and providing a great backdrop for artwork.

Our dark-decorated top floor bedroom | H is for Home

The bed is a very important occupant of this space, so we decided on a complete re-vamp. We exchanged a very old, squeaky frame for a new powder-coated metal one; the fabulous people at Tweak supplied us with an amazingly comfortable luxury mattress that we recently reviewed. And last, but certainly not least, some lovely black cotton satin bedding – bought locally (at generous mates’ rates) from good friend, Shaun who owns Rochdale-based textile company FabTrad. They’re wholesale suppliers to some major retailers, but also sell on eBay.

Our dark-decorated top floor bedroom | H is for Home

It’s hard to put our finger on the exact look of our top floor bedroom. We wanted to furnish it with interesting objects and specimens from nature (in a Victorian gentleman’s study kind of way).

Our dark-decorated top floor bedroom | H is for Home

So you’ll find shells, fossils, skulls and the like…

Our dark-decorated top floor bedroom | H is for Home

…favourite antique finds too – that form interesting little vignettes on table tops and walls.

Our dark-decorated top floor bedroom | H is for Home

We also dotted the room with brass, gold, copper and pewter (desperately trying not to overdo it and ending up with a pub snug style). We do love these flashes of metallic though – they give the room a real lift and look fabulous when light catches them.

Our dark-decorated top floor bedroom | H is for Home

It’s still work in progress, but we’re getting there. We hope you approve!