Do you have a modern mirror you adore and an antique table you love? There’s no reason you have to choose one over the other.

You can successfully mix modern pieces with vintage and antique items, creating a stunning, eclectic space that is uniquely yours. Follow our advice below to curate a harmonious and eclectic home.

Vintage Vs. Antique

First, we need to define vintage and antique. The definitions are flexible, but these are the generally accepted ones.

Vintage: Something can be considered vintage once it is at least 25 years old. People typically consider items between 25 and 100 years old “vintage.”

Antique: Antiques are always older than vintage items. People usually believe antiques must be at least 100 years old, but antique items could be 100 years old or 500 years old.

Understanding Balance and Flow

To help you nail your eclectic design, let’s discuss understanding balance and flow within interior design.

Mixing Warmth and Coolness

It’s typically best to balance warmth and coolness in your home, but this doesn’t only apply to colors. Yes, warm tones like red, orange, yellow, pink, etc., should balance with cool tones like blue, purple, green, etc. 

However, items can have warm or cool vibes due to other elements. Generally, antique and vintage items have a warmer feel, while modern items are cooler.

Connect and Contrast Textures

Textures often connect to the warmth or coolness of something. For example, wood usually feels warm, while metal feels cool. Wool looks warm, while silk looks cool. A primarily warm space may feel overwhelming, but an overly cool home can feel sterile and industrial.

Proportions and Space

Whether dealing with an antique or contemporary piece, ensure everything is proportional to the space and other items. For example, a tiny nightstand may look silly beside a huge bed frame. Or, a small chandelier could look awkward in a massive room. 

Avoid these disproportionate pairings, as it might look like you put Barbie’s furniture in Polly Pocket’s house.

Combining Curves and Lines

Most modern furniture and decor favors streamlined designs, using sharp lines and clean corners. Antique and vintage pieces tend to be more curvy and fluid. Too much of either creates a strange aesthetic, so blend curved pieces with straight lines to achieve harmony.

Mirroring Details and Elements

The last way we want to explain balance is through mirroring (not literal mirrors). When items in a room seem disjointed, it’s often because there are no common threads between them. Common threads could be a color, a material, a shape, or a detail. 

For example, a vintage rug with tassels can be paired with a modern wall hanging with tassels. This shared element connects them, making the room feel cohesive.

Tips for Mixing Old and New

Below are some more tips to guide you toward this eclectic aesthetic.

Assess Home’s Natural Aesthetic

First, assess the inherent aesthetic of your home’s architecture. Are your paint colors trendy or timeless? Do you use many organic materials like wood and stone? Are your ceilings high? Is there a lot of natural light? If your home were empty, how would you describe the space? Determining this aesthetic gives you a starting point.

Determine an Aesthetic

Decide what aesthetic you want, such as:

  • French Country
  • Art Deco
  • Bohemian
  • Coastal
  • Rustic Farmhouse
  • Shabby Chic
  • Organic Modern
  • Japandi
  • Abstract

There are endless choices, so spend some time on Pinterest and figure out which aesthetic speaks to your style!

Settle on a Color Palette

We highly recommend choosing a color palette before adding anything to your space. Each room could have its own color palette, but we recommend having at least one consistent color throughout the home. Three colors is the norm, following a 60-30-10 dispersion, but that’s not a hard rule.

Embrace Neutrals

When you mix vintage, antique, and modern items, things can feel busy quickly. A great way to combat that busyness is to lean on neutral colors as your base. If you have many colorful antique/vintage items, choose mostly neutral hues for your palette.

Try the 80/20 Rule

You don’t have to do this, but some designers say the ideal combination is 80% one style and 20% the other. For example, it could be 80% vintage/antique items and 20% modern pieces, or vice versa.

Start With Basics

If you have an empty home and are confused about where to start, start with the basics. Get the essentials — bed, couch, dining table, etc. — and build your aesthetic slowly on top of those. It’s best to get modern basics but nothing intensely industrial or minimalist. Choose basics that can act as a blank canvas. 

Consistent Quality and Condition

Everything doesn’t have to be in perfect condition, but items need to be consistent. You shouldn’t put a shabby hutch beside a brand-new glass coffee table. If you want shabby chic or rustic, avoid pristine modern pieces. On the other hand, you can refurbish or reupholster rough antiques to complement your modern pieces. 

Diverse Decor and Furniture

It’s not a good idea to use all modern furniture with all vintage decor or vice versa. Make sure you have a mix of vintage/antique and modern within your furniture and decor. 

Use Statement Pieces, Focal Points, and Accents

You don’t want one item to stick out like a sore thumb, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have tasteful standout pieces. An antique chandelier in a modern hallway or a contemporary lamp beside a vintage couch can work well. Using the 80/20 rule, focal points and statement pieces can make up the 20%.

Utilize Wall Art to Mix it Up

An antique painting over a contemporary couch or a sleek modern canvas beside a vintage bed can create balance. If you struggle to mix vintage or antique with modern, your wall art is a great place to start.

Look to the Floor

Another great trick is adding a rug that changes the room’s vibe. If your living room feels 95% modern, an antique rug can help you achieve 80/20. If your wooden floor feels too antique, a fresh modern rug can balance it out.

Play With Lighting

You can also look up and consider your lighting! Lights can subtly shift an aesthetic without being in your face. A vintage light fixture can turn a modern bathroom eclectic in a heartbeat. If your home itself is an antique, adding modern fixtures can bring it into the 21st century. 

Address Every Room

We advise against having a super modern bathroom while your bedroom is intensely antique. If you curate an eclectic mix of vintage, antique, and modern, make sure you do it in every room. You can also implement the mixed aesthetic into your outdoor spaces.

Final Thoughts: Follow Your Instincts

Ultimately, just listen to your gut. If a room looks off, it’s probably imbalanced and needs adjustments. 

When you genuinely love an item, finding a place for it in your home is easier. If you see a vintage item online and fall deeply in love with it, get it!

Also, don’t rush anything. Let beautiful pieces find you and build your eclectic home over time.