Living in the Past: Homes that Embrace Vintage with Open Arms

published Sep 21, 2015
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(Image credit: Leanne Bertram)

Most people interested in decor know the power of vintage items. They’ve studied the classics, or they’ve got a couple of storied items in their own homes. But there are some homes that don’t just dabble in vintage or mix it in: they embrace it in its entirety, throwing themselves full-on into previous eras.

I already had this post planned before the recent hubbub surrounding this Vox article, in which Sarah A. Chrisman explains why she and her husband have chosen to live like Victorians. To the best of my knowledge, the residents of the homes featured below have adopted only the style of previous eras, not entire lifestyles, but homes like these raise an interesting set of questions about where style stops and lifestyle begins.

Now, please enjoy this romp through the past, complete with photos and quotes from our tour writers.

(Image credit: Leanne Bertram)
Dawn probably didn’t want me poking around the office too much among the vintage girlie calendars and a most excellent pinboard of burlesque and hotrods… but it’s the little things that make a home and I can spend all day looking at a bookcase… ditto a glamorous dressing table of perfumes.
(Image credit: Fabienne Ayina)
Amy and Noah are the founders of Picnic, an indie music and art festival, and owners of Pinecone+Chickadee, a boutique full of quirky finds and old-time surprises… Their home, a late 1950s ranch, is somehow an extension of their store and a time travel experience to a retro-chic universe… Amy assures me there have been a lot of DIY projects, slowly-but-surely renovations, and trips to the flea markets in search of Mid-century to 1970s treasures.
(Image credit: Carolyn Purnell)
If the 1950s married the 2010s and had a woodland chic baby, that would be Jamie’s apartment. It’s a bright, happy home, filled with treasured objects and sunlight. Jamie’s been living here for only eight months, but it’s cozy enough to feel like she’s been in the space for years. The bright blue walls — the first project she tackled — are surprisingly soothing, and they make the loft feel spacious and airy. “I’m a nester,” she admitted, “and white walls are not for me.”
(Image credit: Justice Darragh)
An abundance of wood and dark art sets a 1970s biker hangout-meets-Northern lodge mood… Drawing from a multitude of eras, Sarah & Davey’s Americana-meets-natural history museum sensibilities include mixing baroque picture frames with biker art, Mid-century modern lamps with Turkish rugs, and 1940s wood dressers and religious tapestries. 1930s tattoo flash blend unexpectedly with warm wood tones, for a style as colorful as it is dark.
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Tracy & Marty’s “Retro Metro” House Boat

They have one big rule on the boat – there is no rigid schedule – and they have any open door policy to entertaining guests. They invite friends to come down for the weekend, relax, and use and enjoy the place as if it were their own… “Our style can best be described as modern + retro = Metro… We saw an old dry-docked 1960s houseboat that had similar lines to that of a Neutra home… and I was sold!!! Or, should I say obsessed?”
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
We hope you like color, kitsch and Mid-century design, because we have all three in abundant amount with our house tour coming by way of Los Feliz. Overlooking the beautiful St. George Reservoir, Derek’s modest 2-bedroom apartment, with it’s wood shingle clad exterior, hides a wealth of unexpected color and collectibles within… “[The] ’60s bar is actually my design, it looks old, but it is all new. The bar is the only thing in the living room not vintage.”
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
Each room in the house has a different feel and theme, but still has cohesiveness to it. If there’s one thing Jennifer’s best at (well besides running a successful business) it’s knowing how to combine styles and objects to create amazing displays and rooms… Old camping thermos cans, cookie jars, and weird fruit heads can be found in the kitchen. The bar area features “naughty” Playboy glasses and paraphernalia. The Florida room sports, well, everything tropical, but not garishly so.
(Image credit: Emily Billings)
Spencer’s musical elements merge effortlessly with Linzi’s 1960s-inspired design and enviable collection of art. The couple is unfazed by DIY projects and they have decorated their apartment on a dime- a feat involving patience, an active imagination, and a good amount of elbow grease to transform their thrifty finds… “You really do not need to spend a lot of money. If you want nice things you can buy vintage and fix them up.”