How To Bring Character To Your Modern Space With Vintage Art
Traditional paintings are not restricted to stuffy interiors. Something wonderful happens when they’re pulled out of context and placed into contemporary settings. Suddenly, that fusty face staring out of a gilded frame feels reborn, as you can see from these stellar spaces. Time to hit the flea markets and salvage stores! Click through to learn how to incorporate vintage art into your modern space.
Belgian architect Nicolas Schuybroek renovated an old butcher shop into his unpretentious family home, which he filled with classical elements — life-size gent and all. To the left of the painting is the living room (you can see a portion of the fireplace surround). The piece offers drama to the room.
Designer Genevieve Makinson’s heritage home in Toronto has an eclectic sensibility that’s colorful, arresting and one-of-a-kind. A crisp white backdrop and modern elements, including the Serge Mouille floor lamp, makes the old-school painting feel exciting and current.
So much personality! A feisty blend of old and new elements add up to a ton of fun in Toronto designer Quinn Cooper’s living room. The winky wallpaper, from Urban Outfitters, is a brilliant foil to the vintage paintings Quinn picked up at various antique shows. A pink, black and gold palette is youthful and modern.
Comfortable couches and an inviting collected atmosphere as a whole define the living room Amber Interiors created for a family in Santa Monica. Dual sconces frame the paintings, giving them presence. Overlapping the one painting over the other lends a relaxed vibe.
From the striped headboard to the Home Sweet Home banner pinned to the wall, nothing about this lovely bedroom is traditional. And yet there she is: a lady dressed for a garden party; an idiosyncratic flourish that keeps the room from feeling overly modern.
Los Angeles-based designer Joyce Pickens establishes a playful mood in this bedroom by balancing a swing set against trad elements, including the four-poster bed and the vintage landscape. The swing and painting are from the amazing design shop Nickey Kehoe.
It’s not just the splashy combination of tiles in this Hollywood Hills bathroom by designer Caitlin McCarthy that has us impressed; the unusual decision to go with a painting as a compelling counterpoint deserves high marks, too.
This hunter green kitchen by UK’s DeVOL Kitchens is right on trend. The fine art displayed along the picture rail is like visiting a mini art gallery every time you make toast in the morning.
The internet is going gaga over Jenna Lyons’s SoHo loft, and in particular this drop-dead gorgeous bathroom. The style-maker and former president of J.Crew clearly has a thing for marble. The tub and vanity are made out of Breccia Capraia marble, elevated ever-so-perfectly by the male portrait who presides over the bathtub.
A bearded and bow-tied dandy plus white paint and pottery is a win in photographer Kara Rosenlund’s 19th century worker’s cottage in Queensland. The portrait is unexpected in the setting, which makes the kitchen that much more interesting.
An earthy-meets-whimsical aesthetic by Los Angeles-based interior designer Katie Hodges makes for a charming vignette in this Spanish Revival home, but it’s the mysterious vintage painting that steals the spotlight.
Designer Lauren Liess, who is based just outside of Washington, D.C., hung some of her favorite antique oil paintings above the kitchen sink to enjoy them every day. They’re not too precious, so worrying about water splashing up is no big deal. We love the refined-rustic balance created by the artwork.
Designed by Raji RM & Associates, this luxury home in Washington, D.C., has a museum-like quality thanks to the large, focal-point mural. Though the piece depicts a centuries-old girl, the space feels refreshingly of the moment because of the mid-century modern furnishing.
Patterned fabrics and and a gallery wall of throwback art is a sweet sight in this dining room by New York-based design firm Tilton Fenwick. Follow their lead by clustering the artwork low enough to the furniture, so the arrangement doesn’t appear to be floating.
We agree with Los Angeles designer Emily Henderson that it’s tacky to decorate with a print of a famous painting — say, the Mona Lisa or Van Gogh’s Starry Night. On the other hand, an unknown lady’s head under a window is oddly super cool.
If paintings aren’t your thing, vintage botanical prints, such as this oversized Swedish trio, add a nostalgic feel to any modern space. Framed in black, the eye-catching pieces demarcate the dining room area in the open-concept room.
Layering patterns is a hallmark of design firm Tilton Fenwick, and it really works in the powder room of this Greenwich Village apartment, styled by Scout Designs. Whorls of vines on the wallpaper mimic the shapes in the dramatic black painting.
Chicago-based Shelby Girard, the head designer at Havenly, is known for her chic, restrained aesthetic she calls Parisian Modern. She displays her craft in this sophisticated living room, where the impeccable contours and colors of the painting draw in the eye.
Painter and photographer Kate Schelter’s Chelsea loft in New York City is one of those gutsy spaces that’s bold and beautiful. In this snippet from her home, an old and new mashup is loaded with character.
Suspended in the entrance of the late Sonja Bata’s condo, is this colorful 1963 Aubusson tapestry by Dom Robert. The textile, like an old-masters painting, has rich hues that make a powerful statement in the clean, white space.