Design Solutions: Incorporating Vintage Elements With a More Modern Style

updated Mar 11, 2020
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(Image credit: Beth Zeigler)

While I absolutely covet many of the elements featured here, I understand that everyone’s taste is a little different, and some people might not choose green tile or wood paneling or shag carpets if they had the choice. But whether you’re renting or buying, and whether you love them or hate them, here are some ideas for making vintage features work with your modern style.

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Paul and Tyra’s Eclectic Charmer (Image credit: Beth Zeigler)


  1. Paul and Tyra’s Eclectic Charmer: When you inherit a roomful of colorful tile, black and white are your best friends. The lights, mirror, art, and accessories here all work with the tile, while keeping things looking modern.
  2. Chelsea & Alex’s Balanced Style Blend: Once again, that is a lot of yellow tile, but they made it work by keeping accessories and paint all in the same white-black-gold color scheme.
  3. Sharon’s Bathroom Before & After: Sharon took a different approach to her beige (taupe? camel?) tile and sink, bringing in greys and subtle golds to work harmoniously with the original colors.
  4. Donna & Lyla’s Tiled Wonder: The amazing 1930s Vitrolite (milky green glass tile) is brought into the 21st century by way of stainless steel appliances, lighting fixtures, and stabby knife holder.
  5. Sophie & Scott’s Bright Retro Retreat: Stabby knife holder to the rescue again! The home’s original tile, paneling, and cabinetry seem fresh because they’re bright white, and colorful accents are the perfect combination of modern and retro.


6. Kristen & Kourosh’s 70s Modern California Beach House: This fantastic home boasts a sunken living room, wall-to-wall shag carpet, and a futuristic fireplace — it’s got it all! Beautifully simple art and accessories keep things clean and up-to-date.
7. Mark Maček’s Modern, Warm & Woodsy: Please note — this is the “gorgeous shiplap siding” that he discovered under the original paneling, but I thought it could still serve as inspiration for those of us dealing with the hideous stuff. This entire house tour is amazing.
8. Robin & Clay’s Whimsical Capitol Hill Home: My instinct is to approach wood paneling with a Scandinavian-ish aesthetic (whites, greys, minimal) so I wanted to share another way to go. As one commenter wrote, “Such a creative mix of materials in that bedroom — the natural, earthy wood paneling juxtaposed with the bright, cheery Marimekko bedding. Unexpected and fun.”
9. Andy & Andrew’s Vintage Modern: Here’s an answer to that age-old question: what to do with that weird white-washed wood panelling? A combination of retro accessories and panelling-hiding art and mirrors, of course!
10. Mark’s Original Mid Century Modern Home: When in doubt, embrace it. Mark was lucky enough to acquire some of the original furniture from the original owners, and augmented those pieces with a shaggy rug and countless found/thrifted treasures.