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The Rattan Company | Vintage Guide

Welcome, vintage style icon, to The Rattan Company’s vintage theme collection. Come in, be inspired, and find the perfect vintage furniture to complete your look. Once you’re fully inspired, take a look too at our next collection, retro.

What is vintage décor?

Vintage style spans most of the 20th century, from 1900 through to the 1970s, after which you’re sliding into modern retro. The 1970s specifically take you into Boho (Bohemian) territory. While a vintage theme can span the better part of a century, vintage furniture is any piece older than 20 years, so technically vintage furniture now spans anything up to 2001, which feels weird.

We’ll cover the characteristics of vintage a little later, but in a general sense, vintage is about introducing touches of bygone styles into contemporary settings. You might theme an entire room, you might equally take a modern look and introduce min-century pieces, or the cabriole legs and curved arms of a Louis XIV in an otherwise clean-lined room.

Where did vintage originate?

It might make more sense to ask where vintage as we know it today originated, because the vintage trend is more a wheel than a straight line. As eras pass and new pieces age, the vintage look is updated, so today’s vintage incorporates an exceptionally varied range of styles. There’s a suggestion that the vintage trend began in France, with the recollection of pre-revolutionary aristocratic styles. Since then, though such elements as art-deco, colonial influences, mid-century and Bohemian furniture have all made their way into the vintage picture.

Characteristics of vintage design

Vintage is all about history. It’s up to you whether this is an immersive experience, with whole rooms authentically laid out in faithful vintage tableaus, or something created with the insightful use of vintage highlights in otherwise modern spaces. Vintage design also accommodates a range of periods within a house, or even potentially a room. Carefully curated, vintage furniture from a variety of epochs can be beautifully combined.


The style starts with the vintage furniture pieces and accessories you’ve found. It’s a style built on research, hunting and discovering beautiful items in vintage furniture shops, auctions, boot sales and online.

For that reason, design can tend towards the cluttered. While vintage can be combined with clean, modern looks, it normally involves a reasonable number of pieces to create, so a key design consideration is how to maintain space and access.

There is little right or wrong with vintage design decisions. You can homogenise the look or mix it up, with a room and from room to room. Renewal is the nature of the trend, evolution to incorporate new styles, which obviously can co-exist as rooms develop, or would have developed over time.

Colour palette

If the vintage furniture and accessories might be eclectic, the colour palettes can bring cohesion. Consider how combining vintage styles from different periods, or vintage and modern styles might be successfully achieved by unifying them with colour.

The vintage design palette is also influenced by the tendency towards greater numbers of more ornate pieces. With so much going on, the walls might require calm, and so be covered singularly in shades of cream.

Ivories and creams dominate, and where colour is introduced, it might be in natural tones of green and blue, or perhaps the richer red of a Victorian smoking room carpet, the British racing green of a Chesterfield, or the lavender seat cushions of a French chateau.


The vintage of Boho trends create a fantastic opportunity to incorporate beautiful furniture from a range of eras. Anything older than 20 years is true vintage, and while you can restore it, some vintage aficionados see wear, tear and weathering as part of the charm. So consider leaving old woods somewhat as they are. For those wanting the vintage furniture look from new pieces, rattan makes an excellent choice, fitting as it does into mid-century, 1970s and empire styles. The highly decorative nature of wicker, with ornate loops and obvious craftsmanship, make it an excellent fit for the style, while painted wicker makes an excellent choice for vintage painted furniture.

How to vintage

Our tips for creating a vintage style

Commit and love it

Creating vintage styles isn’t easy. You’ve got to love the (potential) clutter and the hunt for gold. So if you’re going to the trouble, really go for it and be proud of it. Nobody kills your vintage buzz.

Collect your way there

Vintage styles are accumulated. They evolve over time and are brought together gradually. It’s hard to do it all at once and you don’t need to try. Keep your eyes open and let it come to you.

Borrow your vintage

Friends and especially relatives might be a great source of vintage furniture and accessories. Perhaps they are clearing out, or have kept items from some time ago which they no longer use. Not only might these be great for your look, they come with a built in story to connect you with your space.

Colour your vintage

Use the flexibility of vintage to bring your own colours into a space. Paint vintage furniture or introduce other elements of colour, using classic natural tones, or something altogether brighter to fit your mood.

There’s more to vintage than furniture

At car boot sales and auctions, even in the loft, you’ll find vintage items to inspire or complete a look. Seek out books, cooking utensils, bathroom accessories, tools and anything else with a story and a beauty which will add a dimension to your design.

Stick to quality

For vintage pieces to last, they must be quality. And for an accessory to contribute positively, it has to be on the right side of the historic/junk spectrum. Curate with discretion to ensure you don’t inadvertently create a junk shop.

Enjoy the hunt

Part of the fun for vintage designers is the sourcing itself. To get great results, visit auctions, sales, second hand shops and specialists, as well as seeking vintage furniture online. Unleash your talent for spotting potential and bargains.

Reuse and repurpose

Vintage themes naturally promote reuse, given the age of most items. Consider whether something could be used in a different context or location. Consider how your DIY and creative skills could take something old and out of use and turn it into something new.

There is no right or wrong way

Vintage doesn’t have rules. If you like it (and you can still get to the door), it’s well done. Combine different vintages, or vintage furniture with modern looks, full vintage or highlights on a room by room basis.

Mix old and new

Speaking of vintage and modern, try mixing up vintage highlights with modern looks. A vintage bed frame, headboard or side table in a clean, uncluttered and calming bedroom works perfectly.

Get a feel for fabrics

Much as with accessories, vintage fabrics offer another avenue to express your vintage style. Consider a new wicker headboard, complemented by a vintage bedspread, vintage pill cases and a vintage throw.

Make your own vintage

Get creative and DIY your vintage. Whether you paint furniture, refill glass jars or get creative with reclaimed wood, you can create something truly personal and unique.

Build around something beautiful

Make a starting point of one treasured vintage piece. An heirloom perhaps, or maybe a well-found piece of vintage furniture. Place that item at the centre of your style and good things will flow.

Theme your vintage

Vintage isn’t homogenous. It can be combined and coloured by other styles. Urban vintage, coastal vintage, country vintage, rustic vintage. The possibilities are endless.


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