Experiments in home decorating, DIYing, and vintage furniture collecting.

How to style a vintage piece in a modern room

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November 06, 2015

When Wes and I first got married, my parents drove from Chicago to Charlotte with all of my grandmother's china in tow (service for 16, no less). Since they were going to be loading up the old Kelly family van anyway, I seized the opportunity to have them transport a few things that I've always wanted to take off their hands but couldn't carry home on a plane.

Enter this chair, which has sat in my dad's basement workshop for most of my life and (literally) collected dust. According to my mom, it's a patio chair from the 1950s that used to belong to her grandmother. I love the midcentury design and that it's astonishingly comfortable for a hard shell!

Making an old chair like this look modern and fresh is surprisingly easy with a few thoughtful styling tricks.

#1 Add a soft accessory that goes with the tone of the room

For this chair, I decided to drape it with a cream lambskin to make it look more inviting and work with the rest of the neutral decor in the room. If this room was filled with bold art and bright colors, I'd add an ironic Jonathan Adler needlepoint pillow or an angora blanket with a bold pattern. A soft accessory makes the piece look like it's used often, loved, and part of the overall living space and not a random, out-of-place afterthought.

# 2 Balance it by using furniture from different eras

To make a vintage piece work, it helps to have an assortment of furniture from different eras. For example, this midcentury chair doesn't look out of place with a modern sofa, an antique brass tea cart, a patina-ed surfboard coffee table rescued from Craigslist, and a trendy calfskin rug. It balances out the age factor and adds interest.

# 3 Add cohesion by bringing in a variety of personal elements you love

It helps that I already have eclectic decor taste, love mixing woods and metals and get nervous when everything matches. Even if you don't necessarily love eclectic decor, you can balance vintage pieces by shopping your home for heirloom blankets, vintage frames or even items that you just really love and plan to have forever. I love bringing together things I've collected over the years (antique, vintage or bought new) and seeing how well they work together. You'd be surprised how cohesive your taste is over time!

Below is a photo of our living room from our Charlotte house styled with the vintage chair that I was so happy to rescue from my dad's basement workshop!

(By the way, I would like to proudly announce that I painted that entire fireplace myself. Doesn't it look chic and fresh? Thank you, Lowes, for the encouragement and proper paint roller.)