I am very excited as I have my hands on an advance copy of a fantastic book I commissioned — Style Your Modern Vintage Home! I think that vintage lovers everywhere are going to love the beautiful photography, inspiration, practical styling tips and advice. International songstress and vintage style icon, Paloma Faith, has even written the Foreword, and she thinks the book is fab too!
The author is Kate Beavis, co-director of the successful vintage business, Your Vintage Life, who provides her expert advice on styling, buying and restoring vintage pieces within your modern home. The book is structured by decade from the 1920s to 1990s and each chapter introduces the social history of the period and how what was happening in the world, influenced the interiors of our homes. Kate presents the must-have items of each period for all the rooms in the house. Each chapter closes with a ‘Get the Look’ section featuring real people’s modern vintage homes and their advice on achieving vintage style.
I interviewed Kate so that she could tell us more about the book and her passion for vintage:
How did your passion for vintage home style begin?
I originally discovered vintage fashion in the 1980s, buying and customising 1960s dresses, buying them from charity shops and jumble sales. My mission was to create my own style, not wishing to conform. However, when I set up home in the late 1990s I filled it with the usual flat packed furniture as it was affordable and functional but lacked originality. It wasn’t until 2002 that I decided to revamp my home, and style it in a way that represented my personal style.
It all started with a piece of pink M’dina glass bought for a few pounds which inspired my new found love of vintage homewares. This was joined by crystal doorknobs, large medicine bottles and 1950s ceramics; all very girly and eclectic. I met my husband Adam in 2006 and that’s when it really all took off. He invited me round to his house for dinner and I was met by a sea of 1960s/70s flower power! Long floral curtains, teak furniture, swivel chairs that belonged to his grandma, retro prints and so much orange! Finding a man who loved the vintage style meant I could now fully immerse myself in it. Our styles didn’t really go together though: my feminine perfume bottles and his funky swirls do conflict somewhat, so now they are kept apart. Some rooms are more 1920s–50s in style, others very much are the early 1970s.
I find this a very hard question to answer, as I love things from all eras! If I had to choose it would be the early 1960s. From a fashion perspective I love the typical day dresses, bright textiles and box bags that were popular at this time, rather than the 1950s when to be honest, here in the UK we were less flamboyant as we were still struggling financially. From a home perspective I love Ercol furniture with its lighter feel and splayed legs, Norwegian cookware such as CatherineHolm enamelware and Murano glass. It was a time of discovering new materials enabling designers to be more inventive, resulting in a fresh style that still works today.
What is your favourite vintage home piece featured in the book?
Gosh, so many to choose from! The tins featured in the 1980s chapter were produced by my parent’s business, including the Mary Quant tin. I think it was amazing that they worked alongside such a fashion great to produce charity tins. I love the Figgjo Flint plaque from the 1970s as my late Grandma bought this when she visited Eastern Europe at the start of the decade. It now hangs on my kitchen wall. The other item that springs to mind is the baby blue Princess phone from the 1960s. I have a good telephone collection but I don’t have a Princess phone; we photographed this when we visited Sarah B’s house and I tried so hard not to take it!
There were many highlights in the writing process. I spent the first few weeks planning each page so I knew what would be needed at every stage, making the overall project run smoothly. The photo shoots were great fun — I enjoyed meeting the homeowners and being inspired by their homes. It was hard at times to knuckle down to work as I kept cooing over their vintage pieces! ?I went on my honeymoon in the middle of writing so I took my laptop with me. Writing on the balcony, while my family swam in the pool gave me time to really review what I had already written and to give me clarity on what was needed next. Having spent years working in retail design, I was glad to be involved in the design of the book too. I am really pleased with how it looks and I feel it is accessible to all budgets and styles — just what I wanted to achieve.
What are your 5 top tips for achieving vintage style in your home?
1. Fill your home with things you love rather than what you think you should love. Your home reflects you and your personal style so surround yourself with items that make you smile.
2. You don’t need to be a slave to an era — you can mix up your style. However, the end effect can be a mish-mash if you’re not careful so try and pick a colour theme with a few accent colours to knit the look together.
3. Be proud of your collections — put them out on show so you can appreciate them. Hang plates on walls, display drinking glasses in glass-fronted cabinets, hang your handbags on the wall. There are lots of styling tips within the book to inspire you with this.
4. Don’t hide away your breakable items, even if you have children. All of our glass and ceramics are out on show; we just explained to our kids when they were tiny that you need to be careful. As long as the family heirloom isn’t on a low shelf that is!
5. Know when to stop! Collecting vintage is like an addiction and if you’re not careful you won’t be able to see your sofa through all the goodies you have bought. We now try to have a one in, one out policy — a new vase comes home, then one needs to be sold or packed up in the loft!
Here I am talking about the book when I first picked up a copy:
Have you styled your own home with fabulous vintage pieces? Do you have handy styling tips that you’d like to share? Tell us more on our Facebook page.