How to Style Vintage Furniture, According to an Expert

When I think of vintage furniture I immediately think of Jessica Bellef, a Sydney-based stylist and author who has carved out a diverse and impressive career in the world of interiors with her distinctive pre-loved aesthetic that proves that new is not necessarily better. Decorating your own home can be a daunting process, especially when you consider the ever-changing trends and abundance of styles to take inspiration from. To find out how we can replicate the look of Jess's expertly-curated spaces that frequent the pages of our favourite mags and her new book, 'Individual: Inspiration for creating a home that is uniquely your own', we chatted about all things vintage furniture, from the intrinsic value of buying second-hand to where to source the best eclectic finds for your own place.

When it comes to the appeal of vintage furniture, Jess explains that she appreciates that each piece has lived a previous life and is imbued with stories from the past, adding "I love the fact that these pieces have survived for decades, which is a testament to the original makers and designers". There is a certain thrill to sourcing and seeking out designer finds, and Jess says that she often finds special pieces at shockingly low prices, which makes the deal even sweeter. She isn't alone in her love for all things vintage though, with parents she describes as "thrifty" sharing her passion for well-built and original design. 

Lately in interior design, and especially this year, there has been a push towards a more conscious thought process around decorating and our homes generally to lessen our environmental impact and live thoughtfully. Choosing vintage finds to style your home fits into this mindful movement, and Jess believes that vintage is not only good for the environment but is great for your soul and bank balance as well. While Jess understands the temptation to race out to the showroom and replicate their displays instantly, there's a certain satisfaction you'll gain from taking the time to source the right vintage piece that will stick with you forever. Jess further highlights the importance of personalisation, adding "the fact that you have curated the space yourself and let it form over time with unique pieces means that you will be more connected to your home, and the space will be interesting and inviting because of it".

The great thing about vintage furniture is that mixing and matching is encouraged, and actually helps to further create a unique space that's specific to you. Jess is a fan of combining new and old but explains that there should be a harmonious feeling between the pieces. Some easy ways to achieve a consistent interior aesthetic are by using similar colours, finishes and materials, according to the vintage aficionado. Jess offers a great tip that will make your vintage shopping more streamlined — "If you are hunting down a particular piece to complete a space, save the required measurements in your phone, as you never know when that perfect piece will pop up or if it will resurface ever again."

If you're concerned that perhaps your style of home wouldn't benefit from the inclusion of vintage furniture, Jess reassures us that vintage is for everyone —"the beauty of vintage is that it encapsulates the incredible range of style eras that the world has already lived through so whether you are drawn to the ornate or you have a thing for minimal spaces, there will be a piece that sits comfortably with your aesthetic". We asked Jess to give us some tips on shapes, colours and materials to look out for, and solid, sturdy construction and detailed joinery were high on her list. A great tip she shared with us is to look past any upholstery that isn't to your taste as you can always refresh this at a later date. According to Jess, the vintage finds that are trending right now are 1960s coloured glass, textural pottery from the 70s and 80s, as well as natural stones like travertine and the ever-popular rattan and cane furniture trend.

Now that you've got the full rundown and expert tips on all things vintage furniture, it's time to get sourcing! Jess has generously shared her favourite places to find pre-loved gems with us, both online and in person. While she isn't above dragging something off the side of the road, "I also have had a lot of luck with online marketplaces via Facebook and eBay". An amazing place to start your vintage furniture search is at Lunatiques, a huge vintage warehouse in Sydney’s Mascot. Other vintage resellers Jess loves to visit on the regular are Smiths Street Bazaar, CCSS, and Castronia & Co.

For more from Jess, follow her on Instagram, on her website or pick up a copy of her new book ''Individual: Inspiration for creating a home that is uniquely your own'.

For more interior inspiration, tour Simone Haag's Twice-Renovated Mid-Century Home.

 

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