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A VINTAGE DISPLAY; Trend taps into the nostalgia for an older, simpler way of life.

Byline: HOME STYLE With Chris Read

The popularity of vintage in interiors is now legendary. It had its origins in shabby chic in the early years of this century and now embraces a whole raft of styles that incorporate anything 'previously owned.'.

Apparently you can't say second hand now, it demeans it! But its popularity is still high and possibly even growing.

Every other shop down a whole street in my local town is in some way 'vintage', from the straightforward junk shop, via handmade retro style clothes to upmarket antiques and a chi chi boutique selling new household goods covered in cabbage roses and polka dots.

I have a complicated response to this trend. On the whole I applaud it - it is environmentally sound, re-using and re-purposing stuff that would otherwise go to landfill.

I also love the idea of having someone else's history in something I'm using, be it a bowl or a Welsh blanket or a set of kitchen scales. They add personality and distinctiveness.

Older items are often handmade, and I love to see the maker's hand, it adds dignity and meaning to everyday items. On a practical note, it can often be a whole lot cheaper than mass produced, badly made high street new equivalents too.

So I'm not entirely sure why I'm not always comfortable with it. But then there are all those modern vintage-style equivalents, which can be overpriced and not always well made - a rather slipshod attempt to tap into the market.

They remind me of a pet hate of mine from the 80s when seaside style in bathrooms was all the rage: the ubiquitous lighthouse themed toilet roll holder would send my blood pressure up Not by any stretch of the imagination is all contemporary vintage slapdash though, and some companies have made it their ethos to channel that traditional approach and ensure that quality and authenticity are strong.

Sanderson, for example, has a large archive as well as cotemporary designers and the fabrics and wallpapers always have a traditional feel but can be used in a contemporary way, or you can stick with full on traditional if you wish.

The whole trend taps into the nostalgia for an older and simpler way of life, often rural based, and this makes sense when most of us lead frenetic city lives divorced from the old domestic routines.

It's why there was such a debate over the Great British Bake Off leaving the BBC, why there is a resurgence in knitting and cooking and all those made-by-hand craft skills.

We are looking for a connection with the earth and raw materials and want a continuity with our history.

It's when this falls over into the saccharine-sentimental or the inauthentic that my design principles are offended. I find the best way to tap into the vintage trend is to use genuinely old pieces.

When I first started in interior design, the key look was white minimalist, a wonderfully pure look if you could afford the quality of materials needed to make it work over time. But I always hankered to add something maverick like a Poole pottery vase or a grandfather clock if only to say this interior is not a clone.

We want distinctiveness, a sense of self in our homes.

An eclectic style is probably the best way of doing this and the bedroom window area shown here is exactly that, an Indian style chair, French early 20th-century lampshades on Ikea bases, an English paint spattered school chair and some 1960s curtains, but they come together in a tranquil lived-in way.

There are Christmas tree glass baubles hung to catch the light in the window - using things in a way not originally intended can be a great way to add a little quirkiness.

One of the best interior design companies delivering this look is Retrouvius, starting as architectural salvage and now also putting their vintage and salvage finds into relaxed and comfortable interiors that are full of colour and individuality. They are authentic, no hint of repro kitsch here!

The seating corner shown here is a small example of how to do it - it is simple, quiet and entirely delightful.

Get some inspiration for the way forward from their design projects, there are some crackers there and a good visual way to learn how to incorporate vintage. | Go to for more from Chris.

GET THE LOOK Cable Modern vintage style lighting cable adds a subtle retro style to a room. Get this from Dowsing and Reynolds (

TELEPHONE Dowsing and Reynolds also sell these satisfying shaped vintage style telephones... and they work! Remember that lovely sound made when you let go of the number? Well, I do!

Books I love books of any age, but there is no doubt that vintage books add texture and colour. Plenty of places to pick them up - these are from Decor Books (

Light This pendant is from US paratroopers' kit - it was once a component part of the electrical lighting chests which were flown in and dropped to troops on the ground. The chests provided everything they needed to set up the lights in a temporary camp. How's that for a back story? From Skinflint (


An old armchair covered in recycled fabrics, and despite this and lots of other vintage touches, this corner feels fresh and contemporary. Photo courtesy of Retrouvius (

Refurbished lighting is often of better quality and styling than contemporary, make sure though that you get it from a reputable source for safety. These Czech pendants from Skinflint are little glories!

Lots of vintage elements here to add soft interest to a country style bedroom. Photo courtesy of Tony Timmington

A traditional bedroom with floral wallpaper from Sanderson Home's Potting Shed range. I love the styling elements of the old wash tub as a bedside table and the quirky contemporary ceramics
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Aug 26, 2017
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