Wednesday, 7 September 2011

how to display vintage finds

For lovers of all things vintage nothing quite matches the thrill of finding a really quirky item in a charity shop or at a car boot fair. When someone compliments you on an ornament or painting you have paid literally pennies for it means so much more than when it’s for a high street find.
Making second hand pieces work in a contemporary setting does take some thought though. Unless you want your home to resemble Steptoe’s yard you need to ensure there is a good balance between fresh contemporary clean lines and unusual thrift store bargains. Properly placed your fifties teapot or sixties vase can look super stylish and right at home in a modern setting.
Here are some of my tips for making the most of your vintage treasures.
With a little thought you can avoid the "Steptoes Yard" effect

Throw a little sour into the sweet
I’m a total polka dot obsessive-long before Cath Kidston made it popular I was hoarding spotty tablecloths and dotty china like a woman possessed. With designs, which have a child like simple quality, it is quite easy to wander into twee territory. To counteract this I always put super sweet finds next to bolder colours or patterns which are very of the moment. So you may have a spotty teapot but by sticking an Andy Warhol tea cosy over it suddenly appears slightly more cutting edge. 
Dotty about spots

Make one item the star of the show
Teapots with feet-whats not to love?
If you have one piece, which is particularly precious, you can use this as a centrepiece to create a great display. I have an old doll which was given to me as a small child and I wanted to have on show. We all know that dolls can seem a little creepy though so I used a few of my favourite Carltonware china pieces with legs, a 1920s plate with a nursery rhyme on as well as a Mabel Lucie Attwell postcard to create a kitsch corner. It may not win any design awards but sitting on top of my piano its guaranteed to make you smile at the sheer daftness of it and I get to look at an item which holds happy memories.

Use Themes
Some francaise chic
Sometimes when you are a collector of unusual objects its hard to know just where they will sit and how they will work. I create themed areas for my trinkets which helps tie them together .For some I’ve loosely used eras so have put a music box shaped like a Wurlitzer, a dress pattern for a great swing dress and a picture of a bequiffed Elvis in my fifties corner. In others I’ve used country’s so have a rather ooh la la French display which has more than a passing nod to Marie Antoinette’s and the Parisian courts of old
My 1950's corner

Colour Blocking
Black and white with a dash of poodle
Displaying items, which are the same colour, is always a great way to make a style statement. A sixties vase found at a car boot inspired me to create a monochrome collection. The simplicity of the vases design complimented one of my favorite poodle ornaments beautifully. I included a Banksy print to add a bit of DIY punk Rock to proceedings

Invest your displays with meaning
Exhibiting your finds isn’t just about how good they look. With a little bit of thought you can also send yourself positive messages or reminders of good times. When my mother in Law gave me a crockery chicken it reminded me of Ma Boswell in the old sitcom Bread. In these uncertain financial times I keep it on display to remind me not to worry, the money always comes in eventually ready to be put inside the chicken. Underneath is a postcard of Francis Bacon’s art studio-I like to remind my husband that someone else had an even more cluttered studio than me.
My Francis Bacon Chicken

Be practical as well as beautiful
Never hoard special finds. If you source an exquisite quilt use it to throw over your legs whilst reading. Eat your toast from china plates and stick your shopping in your vintage handbag. It’s not about living in a museum it’s about putting life back into reclaimed objects and enjoying them.
Enjoy your vintage finds-don't keep them for "best"

Ring the changes
Change your displays to suit your mood or even to reflect what’s going on in the world. I put together a best of Blighty display as my own little nod to the Royal wedding-Ok it featured Morrissey, Paddington Bear and a postcard of the Superlambanana sculptures but it was my way of acknowledging the event without resorting to union jack bunting.


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