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Aging gracefully: Adding vintage pieces to your home's decor
Vintage cutlery and appliances can bring sweet memories of grandma's to any kitchen.

Remember your grandmother’s chenille bedspread? Or that elegant dressing mirror in the corner of your mother’s room?

Incorporating vintage pieces into your home can take you back to cozy memories and simpler times.

Vintage furniture and décor also can add character to a room, making your home a little less cookie-cutter and a little more unique.

Velvet Walker, owner of Velvet’s Vintage in Cleveland, said vintage pieces are often a better value than new furniture.

"A lot of them were pegged and dovetailed, and solid wood," Walker said. Many furniture pieces made today, she said, are tacked or nailed together and use lightweight wood that was grown quickly.

"You can take a piece of pine now, for example, and it’s much lighter weight than a piece of heart pine from 100 years ago, or even 75, 60 years ago," she said.

When she buys things for her shop, she looks for something "that’s very unique. Old, but yet in good condition."

Walker said it’s perfectly fine — ideal, even — to mix special vintage pieces with newer furniture.

"I think that’s what makes it wonderful, is that eclectic look," she said. "Having a new sofa, but with an old quilt thrown over it, or some old, vintage throw pillows on it. Or just having one really cool old shelf in the room that’s displaying your what-nots."

Pam England and Tamara Lewis, owners of Chic or Shabby in Gainesville, said they’ve noticed a trend of customers buying black vintage pieces, since they are neutral and complement any decorating style.

"The black furniture is our best seller," England said. "Spring and summer, we get a little more colorful because people think of spring and flowers and bright colors, but mostly the black is more of a trend setter."

To begin incorporating vintage style in your home, England and Lewis recommend adding one painted piece of furniture to a room with modern décor.

"I would say adding a little hutch or a little country cupboard like your grandmother would have had in her house, and putting the dishes in it" is a good starting point, Walker said.

For their shop, England and Lewis said they try to find "odd and unusual pieces."

"We like cute pieces that have lots of detail work, and the decorative legs on tables," said England. "Things that are not located in your traditional furniture stores."

Walker said you can also take an old piece and repurpose it. For example, take an old lamp base and turn it into a hat rack, or take an old picture frame and put a screen in it for hanging earrings.

But no matter how you use your vintage things, Walker said it’s the mix of old and new in a house that makes it more inviting.

"I have a lot of new in my house, but I have the old (pieces) filtered all through it, which is, to me, what makes it homey and wonderful," she said.

Although "vintage" pieces are defined as pieces 30 years or older (antiques are 100 years or older), Walker said one person’s favorite vintage look can be very different than another’s, whether it’s shabby chic or primitive.

"There’s such a broad spectrum for vintage style," said Walker. "It’s just finding what you love and it being gently worn, or you can tell it has been used and just loved."