Vintage Furniture

Vintage has come to mean a lot of things these days. ‘Antique’ used to cover a multitude of eras, and was applied sometimes incorrectly to anything more than l0 or 20 years old. Nowadays, people are a little more precise, and vintage seems to refer to something old, but not old enough to be antique. And it refers to clothes and furniture. And vintage has now become considered a noble status, highly desirable, and covers everything from what is found at a yard sale—-or the highly prized ‘mid century modern’ (remember when that was called Danish Modern?? Although you may not be old enough to remember that). But all the furniture we considered ordinary (and the clothes) in the 60’s and 70’s, or the 50’s before my time, have now become dignified and highly prized items, under the title of ‘vintage’. Most of it is pretty reasonable, and some of it is very pricey, and it is very popular now with young people. My daughters take things out of my closet they consider ‘vintage’—-they now consider the 80’s pre-historic, and the 70’s worthy of a museum, but they also are in hot pursuit of furniture from those eras too, and it’s fascinating to see what they find, how they use it, and how they put it together. And I have to admit, I love the result—I don’t think the stuff looked as good when we had it on the first go around. I’m really impressed with what young people, or people with a discerning eye, do with our old cast offs today!!!

One of my daughters recently moved into a new apartment, and took the opportunity to get rid of some of her old student furniture (not yet vintage, just old and tired), and she set out to replace it with vintage items. She combed all the stores she knew and had heard about in New York, and Brooklyn, combed the Internet, where she found an amazing number of fantastic items, and even checked out stores in LA when visiting her sister. And when the big day came to move into the new apartment, I really wondered how it was all going to look together. She had sent me emails of some of it, and very kindly asked for my advice, and some of it looked really tired to me, but she insisted it was ‘charming’ and would work. I took her word for it since she has a great eye, lots of style, and very good taste. And when I saw what she had gotten together and how it worked together, I was totally amazed, and impressed by her skill at not only finding cast off items from another era, but how she put them together. I love decorating, and have a pretty good eye myself, but I can honestly say that not one of these things would have inspired me or caught my attention if I had seen them in a vintage store, a junk shop, or a yard sale. She found two old leather couches, that I thought had seen better days, a pair of leather chairs (Danish modern, like the couches) that didn’t look special to me until I sat on them, and they have to be the most comfortable chairs I ever sat in (and have magical powers, since every time I did during the move, I fell asleep!!! And pretty soon, we were all fighting to sit in those chairs!!! No, my turn!!!). She said she wanted an ‘industrial’ table as her dining table, and found one on-line. I had trouble imagining it, and the old iron table, with a rich dark patina, that she found is spectacular as her dining table—with wooden chairs from the 70’s that have really lovely, rounded modern lines. She found a beautiful old table on-line as her coffee table, end tables, a metal bookcase (industrial shelving), and a bronze standing ashtray I would never have looked at twice at a garage sale, a low rocking chair that is fantastic, and on and on it went. She added interesting accents and personal touches, a comfortable couch in her bedroom, and another vintage chest. All put together, by the time she was finished, it looked like a magazine spread, all put together with things she had hunted down and researched and ferreted out from unusual sources. And we even went on a special mission to find lamps at vintage stores and found some great ones. I have new respect for ‘vintage’, and particularly for how people use it today. And I was blown away by my daughter’s creative ability to see its value and beauty and how it would all work together!!! What she created is absolutely terrific, and in spite of the odd, eclectic assortment, all put together it has a beauty and warmth that I don’t think any of it had in its first lifetime, but suddenly now, it looks chic and new, attractive and really beautiful. I have become a convert and a fan!!! I think vintage is fabulous!!! And I have new respect for this generation of young people who see the beauty in it, and use it so well!!! Love, Danielle

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3 Comments so far
  1. tim hankon September 1, 2010 2:40 pm


  2. tim hankon September 1, 2010 2:45 pm

    I have in my hands a company that made aluminum furniture in the 50’s 60’s and seventies. It is the coolest authentic retro designs and all the patterns are available. What would you do?

  3. Claire Crosbie September 23, 2010 2:17 pm

    Hi Danielle,

    I really enjoyed your article. Your daughter’s apartment sounds really cool. I also love mixing up vintage, with modern and antique furniture.

    I love that you are open minded enough to go with the flow and be flexible enough to consider, then actual take on board new ideas. Then of course articulate them so well!

    I would have loved to see some photos. Please get the camera out!