Vintage, Modern or Minimalist? Mixing and Matching Your Décor

The original article was written for and published on Living300Main


Your home is your shelter; where you spend your most intimate time has a part of you. It should tell the world who you are and be where you want to be every evening. No matter how big or small your place is, you can always personalize it to your exact taste by mixing and matching styles!


Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.
—Coco Chanel


Oh, I love quoting that woman! Interior design trends tend to parallel fashion. The beautiful difference between modern fashion and the styles of the 20s and 70s (years that Chanel marked the most in fashion history) is that now we mix different styles that seem to have nothing in common. Being able to adapt old, mix it with new, and add elements that reflect your true self is living fashionably.

When it comes to interior design, mixing and matching styles makes it look like you know what you are doing. If someone tries to guess why everything around your house looks so special—let them guess. The secret is as simple as Scandinavian minimalist: mix it all. Here are 5 things you need to know to get started.


1. Do your research

Perhaps you’re at the threshold, about to refurnish your apartment or just moved into a new place. Either way, the question running through your mind is the same: “How do I make my home nicer, fashionable or just refreshing?”

At this stage, you might already have an idea of how you want your place to look. But in the worst-case scenario, you can’t even imagine; just picking a colour for your new couch sounds about as fun as a polar bear dip. Either way, a little research will get your home makeover off to the right start!

If you already know what you crave, research will give you fresh ideas and inspiration. It will open up new horizons, help you make decisions, and narrow down your preferences to one or two major styles.

Here’s an example: we all like different things. Ask my husband and I what we think about mid-century nightstands, and you’ll hear a lot of arguments. Mid-century nightstands are the only thing we couldn’t agree on when furnishing our bedroom. In situations like this, doing a bit of research can uncover new ideas, compromises, and inspiration.

I suggest Pinterest (of course!), interior design books—for a general feel—and movies. Inspiration can come from anywhere! We’re all drawn to certain items and materials that reflect our interests, preferences, and dreams. The key to décor that you love is to listen to that voice inside you that reacts immediately during the research phase.


2. Modern design

Modern design is hard to define exactly. It reflects modern art and features the best of minimalism, sophistication, and elegance. Modern interior design is also known for its focus on practicality and usefulness. Every piece in a modern apartment should be useful, rather than artsy and architectural.

Simple lines. Neutral tones. Earthy colours. Open space. That’s the core of the modern interior design. This aesthetic has its roots in Scandinavian and German architecture and features more colourful accents than true minimalism does (we’ll get to that later).

The open areas, minimalistic and airy aesthetic in modern design has one big disadvantage: It can feel like an office. If you decide to go for a modern look, avoid the strictness and simplicity that is inherent to office space. Focus on details to keep your apartment feeling warm and comfortable. Sentimental photographs of your cat, colourful paintings, wool-textured blankets on the couch, and a few vintage candle holders keep a modern simple space looking cozy and welcoming.


3. Vintage interior design

Romantic, elegant and as cozy as grandma’s house: that’s vintage interior design. Vintage décor creates a feeling of nostalgia through old-fashioned style furniture and lots of texture in pillows, blankets, vases, and paintings. Details like scratches and scrapes on furniture are essential! I suggest visiting your grandparents and asking for that old, scratched-up dresser to make it a statement piece in your bedroom.

As cozy as vintage can be, it’s important to achieve a balance between old and new. It would be easy to go to a flea market and buy a set of furniture, floral wallpaper, a record player, and call it a day; the danger is that your space might end up looking bulky and copied. It might look and feel like living in an old movie. This is where balance comes in: Use antiques and vintage finds as accents.

Besides a modern grey couch, place an antique blush pink sofa chair. Instead of floral wallpaper, paint your walls grey or white and hang vintage photographs or oil paintings. Definitely show off your record player and vases, but use them sparingly! No one wants to feel like they live in a museum of a thrift store.


4. Minimalist

Neutral tones. White. Lots of white. Greenery. Wooden furniture. Wooden details. Nothing extra. Nothing extravagant. Minimalist interior design takes its cues from Scandinavia and had a huge influence on Western countries in the early 90s.

Minimalism is great for making small spaces look bigger thanks to light tones and minimal furniture. Some might call minimalist design boring, but I call it clean and intellectual. It’s like thinking “clean” and getting rid of things that are not necessary—in your life and in your apartment.

Think simple lines, linen textures, and light colour palettes when decorating your apartment like a minimalist. To void an empty, clinic-like feeling, add unexpected details. A painting by a young, unknown artist? Great choice! It shows off your personality and passion for art. Wooden side table with a funky architectural shape? Go for it, and make it the highlight of the room.

Minimalism is all about quality, not quantity, and “less is more” is the rule. Combine sophisticated furniture with clean lines with small, meaningful things—like that quirky painting—to make your place feel special, while still keeping things simple.


5. Mixing and matching

Mixing-and-matching is its own trend, complete with rules and suggestions for mixing and matching different styles. The first rule that applies in mixing styles is to express yourself boldly, but—there’s always a but—don’t go crazy and overload the space. Choose a theme (like any of the styles above) and stick to that idea to create an overall feel. Then, go and have some fun!

Mix old wooden chairs with colourful metal chairs around the kitchen table. Get brightly-patterned dishes and mix them with minimalistic white dishes. Hang linen curtains and throw plaid wool blankets on the couch. The possibilities are endless!

The beauty of mixing and matching is in an artsy composition. First, you create a background; I personally love light grey and white walls. Then, you can start throwing splashes of colours. Select two or three colours that work together, and use them as main accents when getting pillows, paintings and coffee mugs.

My own place is a mix of vintage and minimalist styles. I have piles of old books scattered around, paintings, black-white photographs, and a yellow 50s-style couch. I use simple wooden, grey, or white furniture as a background that I can add colour to. Pillows and blankets are my two favourite accents that I can change depending on the season and my mood. While I stick to neutral colours in general, drops of colours are seen in details like bohemian dishware, my blue office chair, and colourful and light wooden photo frames.

Furnishing an apartment should feel exciting and fun! You just need some patience to find those special pieces, loving eyes, time, and a will to create an outstanding space around yourself.

So which side are you on—mixing and matching, or sticking to one style throughout?