Vintage Elements to Add to Your Apartment’s Decor

Let’s face it:

The trends of the 70s and 80s are coming back with a vengeance. Vintage band T-shirts, glass Coca Cola bottles, and high-waisted jeans are back and looking to stay.

Vintage has also caught up with the world of interior design.

Modern isn’t so modern anymore.

So pack up the mason jars and prepare to paint over your bare white walls. It’s time to bring back the “vintage” stylings that should’ve never left in the first place.

Here are five tips for adding vintage elements to your apartment’s decor.

1. Vintage Color Palettes

No design overhaul is complete without a totally revamped color scheme. And there’s a good chance classic vintage colors are absent from your apartment now.

Here’s how simple vintage coloring can be!

The Colors of Vintage

In the world of vintage, the color palette is somewhat dull.

There aren’t any bare white walls or plain grey couches like your apartment has now. Instead, you’re going to be adopting a neutral, pastel, and earthy color scheme.

We’re talking pastel turquoise, mustard yellow, dull brown, and delicate pink.

And as for matching?

That’s not entirely necessary.

Feel free to place an old-school pastel green couch in front of a light yellow wall with a grey shag carpet beneath your feet.

The more wild patterns on furniture, like zig-zags and chevron, the better!

Adding Wood 

Vintage and retro styles also have another thing in common:

Wood, and lots of it!

But just like there doesn’t seem to be a rhyme or reason behind the vintage color palette, the type of wood doesn’t have to be “neat,” either.

Your apartment’s kitchen is the perfect spot for a distressed walnut table. And an antique mahogany end table will fit nicely alongside your mustard couches.

Antique wood is always better for a vintage look.

2. 60s, 70s, & 80s Wall Decor

The world will never remember the 2000s quite the same that we reminisce about the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Fortunately, wall decor from these eras is still in circulation.

When you think of the 60s, 70s, and 80s, what comes to mind first?

Think brands, music, movies, and other pop culture references.

Do you remember retro arcades (or for the younger crowd, the arcade from Stranger Things)? Hang a vintage lit “Game Room” marquee sign outside your bedroom.

What about Pop art a la Andy Warhol and his iconic Marilyn Monroe painting? Get the classic Warhol look with a framed print to hang above the couch.

Coca Cola (circa, the glass bottle era)? Get a classic distressed “Enjoy Coca Cola” metal sign for the kitchen counter, and personalize it with your name!

Figure out what you loved about these decades and bring them to life.

3. Antique Furniture

When your visitors step foot into your apartment, you want it to mimic a time machine back to decades ago. So skipping on the antique furniture isn’t an option.

Now, it’s time to figure out what that even means.

What’s Considered Antique Furniture?

Antique furniture gives off a distressed, vintage, and retro appearance. Mostly because it’s legitimately from the era, not just designed to look old!

Antique furniture and decor include:

  • Velvet loveseats and chaise lounges (bonus points if they’re red or green)
  • Distressed wood armoires, desks, and trunks
  • Antique milk jugs, porcelain vases, and decorative plates
  • Elegant chandeliers

There is one thing you’ll have to prepare yourself for when buying antique decor.

The price.

When you buy antique anything in good condition, you’re paying for the allure more than its functioning. 

In short: Don’t expect those vintage dresser drawers to pull out smoothly.

Where to Buy Antique Furniture

You won’t find antique furniture in a Walmart, Target, or Home Goods. Your local antique shop will be your best bet, especially if you’re on a budget.

But there are online antique retailers instead.

Check out Chairish for all sorts of antique furniture, from mid-century modern couches to dining chairs from the 1960s.

Rejuvenation is another excellent online store for the vintage look. They sell everything from distressed wooden stools from the 1920s and 1950s lounge chairs.

The options are limitless.

4. A Gallery Wall

Photo gallery walls are in every modern home. But no current home pulls off a gallery wall the way Americans did back when living rooms were “parlors.”

“Orderly” would be a poor way to describe a vintage gallery wall.

Instead of neatly arranging your family’s vacation photos, you’ll be adding everything and the kitchen sink, such as:

  • Black and white photographs and art
  • Uniquely-shaped mirrors
  • Hangable sculptures
  • Framed decor (like vintage knick-knacks)
  • Pencil-drawn maps and artwork
  • Word silhouettes and retro posters

The goal is clear. 

Add as many different types of art or decor, switch up the shapes and sizes of the frames, and make good use of white space through thick frame borders.

This gallery wall is a great addition to your office, living room, or entryway!

5. DIY Decor

Do you like to get your hands dirty and put in a little elbow grease? Do you think the legitimate vintage decor is a bit too pricey?

DIY vintage decor is your best bet, then!

The purpose is to turn old items from decades ago into beautiful decor that’s actually useful in your apartment.

Such as:

Take that old wooden step ladder from your parent’s attic. Paint it grey, give it a weathered look, and use it by your bedside to store your favorite bedtime books.

Buy out the vintage Mason jars at your local antique shop. Then, paint them vintage colors (like pastel green), and use them as pencil holders or even vases.

Make use of those old glass teacups you bought for $2 at the flea market. Convert them into your very own handmade candles, fit with your favorite scent.

You’ll be spending a lot of time on Pinterest from now on!


Keep in mind that “vintage” can mean whatever you want it to mean.

Your vintage style might mean decor from the 40s, like crazy sofas, wallpaper everywhere, and linoleum flooring. Somebody else might crave the return of the 70s, through touches like shag carpets, dull green couches, and doorway beads.

Feel free to combine your favorite design concepts from all decades past. It’ll make your apartment even more unique.

Working with Broadstone Market Station, Angus Flynn has more than five years of experience in the multifamily industry. In his free time, you will find him enjoying life on the Lake and spending time with friends.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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