Eddie Ross’s Tips on Decorating With Vintage Finds
Design aficionado Eddie Ross has a keen eye for vintage treasure, and his new book, Modern Mix, reveals the secrets to a successful hunt. A trained chef, sought-after editor and guest on television networks like Bravo and HGTV, Eddie’s sold-out tours of flea markets across America have inspired a new generation of bargain hunters. Get Eddie’s expert tips on decorating with vintage to achieve a collected look in your home.
Eddie converted a standard utility cart into a butler’s pantry on wheels. Felt-lined drawers, acrylic dividers and a vintage brass mirror give the industrial cart a glam makeover. “As you curate your arsenal of essential serving pieces and accessories, find stylish storage solutions that work hard, like this utility cart from Lowe’s,” he says.
Add character to your table setting with vintage monogrammed silverware, and don’t worry if the initials aren’t your own — it adds a sense of history. What brands are best to buy? “Tiffany is the silver standard for American manufacturing, but my other flea market favorites are Gorham, Wallace, Reed & Barton and Rogers Brothers,” says Eddie.
This reflective tray started life as a mirror; now it’s an eye-catching and unexpected way to serve hors d’oeuvres. Eddie says, “It’s glamorous, surprising and a little bit rock star. This mirror is faux bamboo, but find one that reflects your creative spirit.” The biscuit bites are one of his signature hors d’oeuvres. “I doctored up store-bought biscuit mix with cheddar cheese and chives, then made mini sandwiches with my favorite honey cured ham from Costco,” he says.
If your stash of treasured flea market finds is quickly becoming tricky to store, open steel shelves may be your solution. Eddie recommends separating your wares by style or color and hanging up cups, small pitchers and soup bowls using S-hooks. Cut plate-sized pieces of felt and layer between dishes to prevent them from scratching when stacked.
When guests are coming over, tuck away your usual salt shaker in favor of a chic cellar. Look out for salt cellars at flea markets or vintage stores — styles range from earthy and wooden to sleek crystal — and small decorative spoons complete the look.
Eddie’s favorite salts:
- Fleur de sel — “The perfect finishing salt for the table.”
- Pink Himalayan — “Lovely on the rims of margaritas.”
- Black lava — “Dramatic anywhere.”
- Smoked — “A must on the Bloody Mary bar.”
- Lemon flake — “A citrusy lift for the rim of a summer beer.”
Having a variety of candlesticks on hand for entertaining is key. “Pick up a few candlesticks in different styles and materials — they’re the true mood-setters for any occasion. Think tall; think short; think everything in between. Pairs have their place, but singles have more fun,” says Eddie.
Vintage cocktail glasses draw to mind parties from their era of origin, like a glam 1970s soireé. Keep them on display year-round on a bookshelf near the bar; they’ll remind you that a celebration is never far away. “Whether you’re in the highest high-rise, somewhere in the suburbs or anyplace in between, entertaining in the city is a way of sharing your personal style with people you care about and having fun doing it!” says Eddie.
Don’t wait for a special occasion to put your vintage serveware to use. “Use a fancy fish knife to dish up lasagna. Or a sterling silver meat fork to spear-and-scoop trifles,” says Eddie. “Full sets of anything are always more costly than separates, and flatware is no exception. Get creative and curate your own collection in smaller batches—six spoons here, another six there—until your set is complete. Stick to simpler materials and patterns that play well together.”
Don’t be afraid to mix color and pattern at the dinner table. “Thanksgiving might only be one day, but I think about it all year long. I could be at a flea market or a fabric store in the middle of June and see something fantastic, sparking a flurry of inspiration for a table,” says Eddie. Here, vintage turkey-shaped candy dishes tie in nicely with Italian glass flowers, while gilded gold leaves and a graphic tablecloth make a lively tablescape.