The Four Most Popular Vintage Styles

“Vintage” can mean a lot of things to a lot of people.  Vintage is my job.  I see it every day, it is how I make my living.  But I see so many styles get lumped into the vintage box.  Here are the four main types of vintage.  Some can be interchanged and mixed, and other styles like retro, kitsch, French Country, industrial or Hollywood Regency can all be found in these groups.  Each style is unique but still shares the vintage vibe.  Which one speaks to you?

1 – Boho. 

I chose boho first because, this one is mine.  I think this fits our style at home the best.  Boho/Bohemian is fun because it’s such a mix.  If you’re an old soul, this is probably for you too.  Also, if you’re over 35 you probably call it Bohemian.  You can add a little bit from the other vintage styles and it still can be boho.  Mix a midcentury piece of furniture with a tribal rug and sheepskin and it’s boho. Wicker or bamboo with velvet, leather or fur, Moroccan pillows and an old Fillmore poster.  Boho should have a little 1970’s vibe to feel authentic.  Indoor plants or cactus for sure.  It’s cozy, full of texture and color, and everything feels like it has a soul.  Nothing matches and we like it that way.

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Photo courtesy Junk Hippy

2 – Shabby Chic.

Shabby Chic style was created by one of my heroes, Rachel Ashwell, several years ago and is still huge.  This includes the chippy painted furniture with crystal knobs, soft florals, tarnished silver, milk glass….lots of white, cream and pastels like pink, green or blue.  This is where you find the lace curtains, drippy chandeliers, mason jars full of old buttons, over-stuffed and slipcovered furniture, pearls and soft worn-out quilts.  Art might be painted landscapes or Victorian prints.  I see nature mixed in with shabby pretty often, maybe seashells, moss or even a turtle shell.  Primitives, farmhouse and antiques are easy to mix with Shabby Chic.  Shabby is definitely the most feminine of this list.

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Photo courtesy Junk Hippy


3 – And the opposite of shabby…Midcentury Modern.

Midcentury Modern is HOT!  We have several MCM pieces living at our house.  Check most furniture or décor stores (like West Elm) and you’ll see a Midcentury influence.  Midcentury design started in the 1940’s when the clean, geometric Danish style became popular in America, and ran through the 1960’s.  Midcentury pieces are usually known for straight, clean lines, with a very simple style.  Wood pieces are stained a warm color with small, very simple hardware and skinny legs.  Art is bold with color and graphics, and may be product or event advertisement.  Upholstered pieces are also simple, clean and straight.  Paintings are colorful and abstract.  Throw in a sputnik light and Don Draper would approve. 

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Photo courtesy Junk Hippy


4 – Rustic/Farmhouse.

I give all the glory of this one to our favorite Fixer Upper’s.  FARMHOUSE.  Holy shiplap, JoJo!  This mixes with several other styles like Primitive and Shabby Chic too.  Usually white, gray or greige walls, white painted or rustic furniture, burlap, cotton stems or wreaths, hand-printed signs, windmills, wire baskets, and barn doors are all signature Farmhouse.  The real deal is always better, but you can find Farmhouse reproduction everywhere.  Even if they are new pieces, Farmhouse style still has a vintage feel and mixes very well with true vintage, primitive or even antique pieces.  You’ll see a lot of industrial pieces used with Farmhouse style, like metal cubbies or cabinets, carts, galvanized buckets or bins. 

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Photo courtesy Junk Hippy

The Design Conflicted Girl

I don't think I'm alone in this (please tell me I'm not), but our house is never "finished".  I could blame it on our job, always finding newer, cooler pieces and constantly swapping furniture out.  But I know better.  I remember doing this even at 12 years old....I'd save my money and buy new bedding and would end up dragging my furniture around, rearranging my room.  The whole look would change, not just a couple pieces.  This isn't anything new or curable.  I've always been a vintage girl, always a design junkie, always conflicted.  I'm a firm believer in the thought that your home should be a reflection of YOU, not a truckload of matching stuff from a big box store, just for the sake of having things on the wall.  So this is where my issue with cookie cutter design comes in.  It's like finger nails on a chalk board to me.  There is no soul in it.  Your personality should come through in your home, it should be filled with things you love and that mean something to you.  Not that it's normal to redecorate every three days, but I do love that our house evolves as we do.  

I love that the shells we picked up on the beach on a summer vacation are living on a bookshelf in the living room.  I love that my grandpa's cowboy boots sit on a bench in the dining room, so everyday when I pass them, I feel like he is still with us.  The vintage hand-painted Buddha lamp that Shawn surprised me with at my 35th birthday party is in the living room.  These things have a spirit and a story, and they are important to me.  They are part of OUR story.  We get to tell their stories when friends come over and ask "where did you find that!?".  We have things we've bought from friends, or traded with other design conflicted friends.  We have framed artwork from our girls.  Vintage kantha quilts, retro funky art prints, a great vintage chair my grandma gave us, my great-grandparents dining table as our desk...these are all things you can't just run out and buy.  It's a collection and these things have wandered around the house into just about every room.   Our house is never perfect, or magazine ready, or really even guest ready.....it's messy but it's ours.  You may walk in and find everything down off the walls, the bookshelves are empty, furniture is all scattered.  We've had people come in and ask if we just moved in.  Nope, I'm just rearranging.  Then I get the look.  This slightly cocked head, puzzled look that kind of says "WHAT is wrong with you??".  And we get LOTS of "does your husband care that you do this?  Mine would kill me!".  No he doesn't mind, because he is kind of super amazing.  He knows this was part of my crazy package.  

I hope maybe this inspires you to look around your own homes, maybe pull something special out of the drawer or cabinet and let it be part of your home.  Surround yourself with the things that you love and that mean something to you.  Who cares if it doesn't all match!  Will your family care?  No.  But they will love being able to see these special things, the kids will feel special seeing their framed artwork on the wall.  Your guests will love walking around taking it all in.  Make it personal, and it will be interesting.  It is YOUR home, make it yours.  

Peace and love,

Kristen