Decorating Apt. 11D with Vintage Furniture

In my last post about our lawyer’s bookcase, there was some discussion about whether people still are interested in vintage furniture.

I go to a lot of estate sales to find old books for my badly neglected Etsy shop. The dealers are lined up out the door. Of course, they don’t buy just anything old. They buy certain old things — good lines, well made, not destroyed. There was crap in the old days, just as there is now.

I don’t pay for my vintage stuff. It usually just falls in my lap one way or another. Hi, I’m Laura, and I adopt stray furniture.

1/3 of the stuff in these pictures is vintage, 1/3 is quality new (Crate and Barrell, Room and Board), and 1/3 is crap new (IKEA or Wayfair). Our dining room chairs suck. They’re $14 from IKEA. I think I’m going to upgrade to these. I just got that new table runner, on sale at Crate and Barrel.

The vintage prints came from my in-laws. I had reframed them in modern frames, but hated the look. I put them back in the beat up vintage frames, where they looked more at home. I like them hung asymmetrically. (But not crooked, like that bottom one, which needs to be adjusted. I took these pictures in about five minutes. No time to clean up and fix errors.)

The mirror was in my grandmother’s Bronx apartment in the 1950s. The buffet are two bedroom side tables pushed together. I found them on the street on trash day in New York City. Don’t look too closely at them, because they’re a mess.

Because we have a super white kitchen (excuse the mess in the background) and a mid-century modern house, I think we really need the old vintage stuff to give the house some character. I was in a new-build house a few weeks ago, and the whole place was white and light blue. I was redecorating in my head the whole time. The woman’s house DEMANDED some character.

Does anyone else redecorate in their head, when they’re in a particularly cluttered or bland house? I’m sure you all do, and it has nothing to do with some undiagnosed OCD on my part.

7 thoughts on “Decorating Apt. 11D with Vintage Furniture

  1. My father and stepmother built houses for a living while I was growing up, so when they would come visit me when I was little, they would drag me around to model homes, houses under construction, etc. So I am 100% with you on redecorating or even remodeling when I am in someone else’s house. I am also addicted to Zillow. There is no way I am moving, but I can stop being a lookey-loo at other houses.


  2. The punch line in this one is “The picture is crooked.” I think it works well even if you don’t speak German.


  3. I always look at thrift shops and consignment places as well as Craig’s list. Antique stores are too expensive. If it’s in good condition at a thrift shop, it’s probably good quality.


  4. I own a couch and a chair, and a bed that were bought new. Everything else is second hand. I get lots of compliments on my home.


  5. I hope the current residents of apt 11d aren’t freaking out that you’re decorating their apartment.

    I have a mix of nice simple pine furniture that I made myself, a couple nice old chairs from family, ikea bookshelves, a decent couch bought new, and card tables that I use with a nice tablecloth for the dining room table. My plan is to eventually make a table or buy a nice Amish one, but maybe I shouldn’t call it a plan since I’ve been thinking that for more than a decade.


  6. I hate clutter and have fantasies of a house in the clean modern style but lack the willpower to make it happen. My fantasy house has window walls that open to the outside with views of sunsets over the ocean on one side and sunrises over a lake and mountains on the other. I’d furnish it with Roche Bobois (though not just Roche Bobois). It would big art (of living artists — that’s who I would like to support). I would not have vintage furniture and probably most people wouldn’t say it was cozy (though I think roche bobois is cozy).

    What do I have? a more clutter than I’d like, but no vintage furniture. Still a bit too much Ikea. The chairs I have from Wayfair (several years go) I love (though they don’t get much use — so I can’t judge durability). We do have what I will call an heirloom mirror, made for my husband’s grandparents wedding by a brother. It’s art deco, so it could fit in my fantasy house.


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