How To Make a New House Look Old with Vintage Charm

Home design trends tend to center around the newest techniques, technologies, and materials on the market, continually pushing design into a futuristic aesthetic. Despite the widespread popularity of modern looks and design aesthetics, there are plenty of people who prefer to instill old-world charm into their home. This charm could come from vintage antique decor or from the styling of certain features in your home.

No matter how you achieve a vintage style, you don’t necessarily need a vintage house to do it. There are many ways you can make a house built within the last few years look like it’s been standing on that land for decades. You can relish the home’s old-world charm without having to pay for the upkeep and maintenance of an old, worn home. Let’s take a look at some of the best ways you can make a new house look old with vintage antique decor, strategic styling choices, and home improvement projects.

Incorporate High-Quality Organic Materials

A major part of making a new house look old is eliminating materials that didn’t exist in the old days. The low-quality plastics and synthetic blends that cover today’s homes were introduced in the mid-20th century to allow decor and furniture to be mass-produced and distributed to every family trying to achieve the middle-class American dream. Before that, a home’s furnishings were made with natural materials like hearty wood, metals with an organic finish, and high-quality linens and wools.

Using these materials in your home is a great way to give it a vintage feeling. As it can be rather expensive to replace all of your furnishings at once with vintage antique decor and furniture made of organic materials, try to build up your organic possessions one at a time. You could start with one room, such as the nursery. Find a crib made of hearty wood that is undoubtedly sturdy, but gives off a vintage vibe. That crib can be the centerpiece of the nursery. You can then choose a crib sheet, a mobile, and some vintage wall decor that complement the crib. If you have the budget, getting a vintage rocking chair is another great choice for creating a nursery in the old-world style.

Install Crown Molding

The details of a room can make or break the aesthetic your aiming for, especially when you’re trying to recreate a style that was popular decades or even centuries ago. Many old homes have crown molding and carved baseboards. When builders started focusing on maximum profits over the quality of their work, homes across America lost the beautiful detail that was so common in moldings and baseboards.

Luckily, it’s fairly easy to get those carved details back into your home. Start by focusing on one major room, like your living room or dining room, and add elements of detailed design to the walls. This can include crown molding, baseboards, or even wooden shelves and frames that feature carved detailing. If you like the look of these details in one room, you can add them to the rest of your home by working room-by-room until it achieves vintage perfection in the details.

Create Decorative Plaster Walls

One of the best ways to incorporate vintage antique decor into the structure of your home is to recreate an old style of plastering walls. In the Renaissance, Italian plasterers used inexpensive materials like marble dust to elevate the finish of plaster and make it look like a color variation of stone. After an 1850 stylebook transformed the way craftsmen finished plaster, this trend caught on in the United States and evolved. Throughout the 19th century home builders would pro trowel the finish on the wall, blend pigments to get a depth of color, and then level the surface smooth. This process gave walls a smooth and muted blend of natural tones that is very visually-interesting.

Although it may seem like creating these beautiful walls is a thing of the past, there is a way you can do it in your own home. All you have to do is spread two coats of specialty paint with a putty knife. This will produce a finish that can blend in with old-world interiors as well as other design aesthetics. If you’re willing to put in a bit more money and work, apply two coats of regular paint plus two coats of a faux finish to create a wall with subtle variations in texture and color. You can also work with residential painting experts who will know the best finishes to use to achieve the look you want. You can save yourself from doing the labor and feel at ease that the experts will produce the vintage wall that you’re imagining.

Install Carriage Doors

Garages are one of the best examples of modern technology changing the look of a home. Before cars became a staple for every American family, causing every home to have an attached garage to shelter their vehicle, families would use horses and carriages for transportation. They would shelter their horse and carriage in an outbuilding with wood doors that featured an exposed X-shaped or diagonal bracing and hand-forged hardware.

If you want to make your home’s garage look less like a modern structure for your car and more like it holds a horse and carriage inside of it, you can install composite wood roll-up versions of traditional carriage doors. These old-style doors still have the insulation of a modern garage door, but the design of the door’s exterior will be the piece of vintage antique decor that the outside of your home needs. If you’re considering installing these charming doors, be sure to first contact a garage door repair service to ensure that the mechanics of your garage door are up to par. You don’t want to sacrifice the functionality of your garage even for the best vintage aesthetic.

Out of all of the projects on this list, installing carriage doors is one of the more expensive ones. In addition to any garage door repair you’ll need to do to make sure it functions correctly, installing a unique style of garage doors can be expensive. If you have concerns about being able to afford it or any other home improvement project, be sure to talk to your financial advisor. They can give you sound advice on whether you can afford it, what kind of financing might be available, and if this project will add value to your home in the long run.

Switch Up Your Roofing

After the Civil War, slate became a popular choice for roofing tiles. Although it had only been used on important Greek Revival, Second Empire, and Queen Anne homes located near a slate source before the Civil War, slate quickly grew in popularity as more quarries opened and architectural stylebooks starting featuring it. Soon enough, slate was featured on the roofs of homes throughout the country and solidified its place as an iconic vintage feature.

Today, you can use a crack-proof synthetic version of slate that looks like the real thing but costs about half as much. It is also much lighter than real slate, making it easy to replace a roof currently outfitted in asphalt shingles with synthetic slate and no need for additional structural support. The synthetic slate will give your home a vintage look while functioning perfectly. This is important, as your roof not only protects the interior of your home from mother nature but also guides the water into your home’s gutters. This provides erosion control by keeping the water from becoming surface runoff and destroying your lawn.

If you decide to replace your roof with synthetic slate, you’ll have to decide what color you want. Synthetic slate comes in about 50 standard colors, giving you a wide range of options and the ability to recreate different looks from past decades. If you’re aiming for a specific era, know what color was popular during that time. For instance, Northeastern Greek Revivals used black or gray slate while Italianantes leaned towards reddish-clay-colored slate. Victorian styles would even mix up four different colors, giving their roofs a visually-interesting design.

Replace the Kitchen Countertops

You can insert vintage antique decor into any room, even in a room that relies on functionality like the kitchen. When you think of a kitchen in a home from centuries ago, you may imagine a rustic fireplace surrounded in concrete with a simple wood slab as a countertop. While wood was the popular choice for countertops for a long time, other materials like marble and soapstone started replacing wood in kitchens along the East Coast by the 1800s.

You can achieve a similar countertop to those from the 19th century by using laminate. It costs about half of what real stone does and requires little maintenance. You don’t even have to worry that you’re sacrificing its vintage look for an affordable price, as many laminate countertops are now made with rounded or beveled edges that make them look like the real thing.

Swap Out Modern Hardware

We discussed the importance of paying attention to detail with crown molding and carved baseboards earlier, but the hardware in your home is another small detail that can have a big impact overall. In new homes, the knobs, handles, pulls, and faucets in your home are likely made out of a modern brushed nickel. Try replacing these features with hardware that fits in more naturally with the rest of your vintage antique decor to create a unified aesthetic in your home.

Start with the rooms in your home that have the most hardware, such as the kitchen and bathrooms. Choose a style of pulls and knobs with a natural finish that complements the rest of the room’s design. You’ll also want to focus on the hardware of any other features in your home outside of these rooms. If you have an elevator or stair lift in your home, for instance, you could swap out the modern hardware there. You’ll likely need to contact the elevator company to ensure that you aren’t changing anything that impacts its functionality, but giving it a vintage touch with hardware will make it blend in better with the rest of your home.

As you search for the right hardware, you’ll find that there are many different options you can choose from. It’s fairly simple to find this range of hardware with a vintage look at major hardware stores. If you want more authentic hardware, search for handles and pulls at antique stores. Antique and thrift stores will typically get their goods from individuals who sell or donate their vintage belongings after they pass or from major institutions that have renovated or closed down, like a funeral home or university. You may not be able to outfit an entire kitchen with a smaller selection from a vintage antique decor store, but you could transform a smaller bathroom or a single feature, such as the elevator.

Buy Pieces from Multiple Eras

When you’re trying to make a new home look old, you might think that you have to commit to one time period to emulate. However, only decorating with pieces from one specific time period can make your house feel more like a museum than an aesthetically-pleasing home. Mixing vintage antique decor from different eras will give your home a more natural, lived-in feeling and keep it from appearing as a contrived vintage store.

Create a Vintage Patio Space

If you feel that you’ve perfected your vintage antique decor style inside of your home, turn to your outdoor living spaces. Having a patio is the perfect way to create a space outside that you can decorate with vintage charm. If you don’t have a patio, the first thing you’ll need to do is create one. Work with a hardscaping company, which will have the necessary tools and machines like a hydraulic pump to install a patio, that has good reviews and a solid reputation. Together, you can design your patio shape and decide on the materials you will use. The most common materials for a patio is concrete, but you can talk about your other options with the hardscaping company that could add an extra vintage punch to the space.

Once your patio is ready, you can start picking out vintage antique decor to make your outdoor space feel cozy and natural. You could use old birdhouses as lawn art, stepladders as trellises, or vintage vessels as planters. Try to think outside of the box with your decorations. Be sure to include outdoor furniture that is comfortable yet still fits in with the vintage theme. The pieces should also fit in with the rest of your landscaping design and your natural lawn care practices. Avoid pieces that would cover up large areas of your lawn and prevent it from getting the sunlight and nutrients it needs. Everything you include on your patio should be in service to the overall design as well as the health of your outdoor areas.

Only one out of five Americans feel happy with their home decor, according to a HomeGoods survey. Luckily, changing up your home’s decor is very simple. Search for vintage antique decor that makes your new home feel like it was built in a previous century and you’ll have an entirely new aesthetic for your home. Remember to pay attention to the details and you will create a home that brings you joy for years to come.

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