Finishing renovations on an older home can take a lot of work to maintain the right feel. You might be looking for vintage parts if you are replacing specific tile or doorway arches, or you might find yourself working with newer materials that need to match the right style.

Depending on what period or architectural style you are trying to replicate, there are a variety of types of materials that might be best suited to your design. As a general rule, achieving a vintage look requires looking for softer finishes, often with patina and carved or intricate patterns. Slick, smooth lines with the exception of mid-century modern or contemporary design, generally are not materials or architectural style that will match the feel of vintage design.

In any room in your home, there are ways to work with a combination of newer and older materials to transform your room into the kind of vintage environment you want. Here are some examples of how to find the right finish.


A simple way to add class anywhere in your house, like this bathroom in Arlington Heights, is to include moldings, wainscoting, and chair railings.

Even here, where the bathroom has slick finishes and clean lines, crown moldings at the ceiling level add visual interest by drawing the eye up. Wainscoting has a similar effect in breaking up the room and adding to the color palette. In this photo, wainscoting provides a counterpoint adding contrast to the darker wall color. The white also matches the floor tile to create a high-end feel that is reminiscent of historic homes.

The black and white tile pattern (seen above) and other cosmetic elements, like the cabinet hardware and faucets also add dimension, texture and character. Combining these elements is key in recreating vintage style with a modern twist.


While modern designs can also use natural light, taking advantage of architectural features like this arched and stained glass picture window (above) add softer curved elements. This is especially important in a more functional room like the kitchen. Statement windows, like the one featured in the photo above, also limit the need for harsh, artificial light and can frame a beautiful outdoor view.


Wood and stone lend themselves to a variety of styles. A more natural finish, such as the stone tub surround and the reclaimed pine cabinets in the photo above, can add rustic charm to a new or renovated bathroom space.


For some vintage styles, reclaiming is a good way to find the difficult materials that add architectural details and character to complete the design or room addition. Flooring from an 1880s barn, along with the ceiling beams, warms up the renovated living room seen above. The softer reclaimed surfaces complement the vintage atmosphere and add warmth to the space.

Although the concept of vintage design can cover many different styles, you do not need to depend on materials salvaged from the right time period to create a vintage feel. Using or transforming architectural features and finding the right materials, whether old, reclaimed or brand new, can capture your design and bring it to life!

For more about how to remodel your bath, kitchen or other rooms with vintage-style design, contact Airoom for a consultation.


Photo credits:
Wall and Crown Molding – (Arlington Heights, IL)
Tile and Fixtures – (Lake Forest, IL)
Window – (Lake Forest, IL)
Reclaimed natural materials – Bathroom- | Living room-