Vintage Style

Vintage Style

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Creating a vintage style for the interior of your holiday cottage can be an exciting and fun challenge but don’t be too daunted. Eclectic treasures can add an air of nostalgia, warmth, comfort and humour which will make your property stand out from the rest.

So, where to start? Try selecting your favourite style era and then you can enjoy researching the look you wish to create.

Combining contemporary style with retro chic can create an original, fresh and inspiring décor at a fraction of the cost by using flea market finds, charity shops and on line bargains.

Think of your vintage finds as the fashion of the era which can capture the atmosphere you wish to create. Finding an original key piece can be difficult but copies of some design icons can be easier to source. Try to design your property around your own taste, favourite designer or collecting hobbies.

Authentic accessories

Creating the atmosphere of a certain period needs the relevant decorative accessories and using framed black and white photographs can give a vintage vibe to any room; or showcase your collection of glass or china, or whatever takes your fancy.

Vintage style

Era-appropriate furniture

Holiday cottages require practical, stylish furniture which may have to suffer a few knocks during the course of the season. Vintage style embraces the idea of giving an old or unwanted piece of furniture a new lease of life by painting and distressing it. You just need a few basic materials, two shades of paint, sandpaper, brushes and paper towels, and a little patience to bring about a transformation, but beware, it can become addictive! You can then seal your handiwork with clear matt varnish or wax to help protect it. 

Vintage style is about making an item look older or more worn than it actually is, and making it look classic.

Invest in a staple gun so that you can cover old seat pads with pretty toile or chintz fabrics to give your dining chairs that vintage chic. Try to create a focal point in the room such as an original drinks cabinet full of interesting cocktail glasses but remember to try to keep it uncluttered or your cleaner will have a lot of dusting to do!

Scroll down to the bottom of our article on 'Decorating your holiday home' for tips on colours and patterns to achieve the shabby chic look.

Tips and tricks for each room

Bathrooms look splendid with a selection of bevelled mirrors in different shapes and styles on the wall and a display of old glass bottles on a shelf. An old ladder can make a fantastic towel rail! Nothing is quite as decadent as a free-standing roll top bath if space allows, and a chandelier lends an air of elegance to your décor.

For the kitchen you can have great fun collecting old enamel bread bins, kitchen scales, tiered cake stands or wicker hampers to display your welcome pack with panache. Display pretty mugs or a collection of jugs from butchers hooks on a rail, or pans from an old clothes airer hung from the ceiling.

Your collection of old china would look perfect on a welsh dresser or displayed on kitchen shelves, and old binoculars in their leather cases can adorn living rooms with a sea view. Antique typewriters, bird cages or cameras can also be a talking point as part of your living room accessories. Old leather suitcases can create interesting storage and an old trunk can serve as a coffee table.

Guests sometimes love the more imaginative look so save money on buying pictures by framing old magazine covers, maps, sheet music or even old tins, vinyl records or spectacles.

Rummage around charity shops and boot fairs for old dressing tables that can be accessorised with glass perfume bottles and trinket boxes. A decorative screen in a bedroom can give a sense of 1920’s elegance.

Pattern and colour

Create a feature wall using scaffolding boards which can also provide insulation as well as looking contemporary, or a retro wallpaper can really give a wow factor. Sourcing original wallpapers can be expensive and time consuming but many of the well-known wallpaper companies have original retro collections that can be the starting point for your styling ideas.

The vintage look is often toned down to a more neutral, modern colour palette although some style eras such as the 1960’s or 70’s use more vibrant accent colours, notably yellow, orange and acid green. This can be used on cushions and rugs to give the room a lift if you feel that a bold feature wall is a step too far. Lemon yellow or candy pink can be used to give a 1950’s feel which looks fresh and feminine in bathrooms and bedrooms. Green and black paint can transform your living room with a 1930’s air of decadence, while sticking to a white or cream colour scheme will allow you to add touches of pale grey, lilac or duck egg that will create a relaxed shabby chic look.

For more information on décor and colour schemes, take a look at our article 'Decorating your holiday home'. The key to successful decorating in a vintage style is to create a look that seems to have evolved over the years and offers a relaxed, effortless environment that sits well with a contemporary lifestyle. Enjoy the treasure hunting – your guests are sure to appreciate it!

If you'd like a hand with decorating or furniture ideas, please get in touch with our friendly Property Advisors - we're happy to offer free tips on how to make your property attractive to guests.

Posted by Ed on 17 February 2017, updated in 2018.

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