How to add character and the art of hearing only what you want to hear

A friend walked into my newly refurbished home office (featured image for this post), and her first comment was:  “That must be the table you bought for nothing from that little yard sale you talked about?”

I heard: “Maria, wow, LOOK at that table! It is simply stunning, so full of preloved life and history, I can almost hear it rattle of tales in a sultry whiskey voice. And the worn patina and the copper clad art deco legs go perfectly with the otherwise sleek lines of architecture in this previously boring, but now oh, so pleasant room!»

I heard that in what she said, because firstly that table did indeed once live in a bar, and secondly that is exactly how I feel about adding vintage furniture to my brand new, modern house.

Thirdly I hear that in what she said because I may have the slightest bit of an over active imagination.

But the main point is that vintage furniture adds character and personality.

The untouched of the new needs well worn contrast in order to exude atmosphere. And so that is what I set out to do for my home, that my husband and I had built in 2012.

The advantages of using vintage furniture, or not even vintage, sometimes even just plain used, are plenty fold. The most important is of course to add visual interest to existing interior styles by adding intrigue, but there is more, way more.

Homes decked out in expensive designer gear tend to look a bit uptight, like a very upmarket showroom. And if the room looks uptight, it is likely to also feel uptight to hang out in. Uptight just does not fly. At least not if chilled out is what you are after.

Used furniture, if sourced well, will give any room a rocktastic, chilled out vibe.

But balance is key, too scruffy and I no longer subscribe. So to spruce up my home office, I added the elegant wallpaper from Scandinavian Surface that gives the room a Nordic touch of nature, and the modern Louis Ghost chair from Kartell that stress the contrast between old and new.

The problem with buying all brand new stuff, is that furniture chains stores often strive to design furniture that looks like high end designer gear. It may be less expensive, and sometimes even just as eye catching (or strange), but IT STILL LOOKS UPTIGHT, too linear, too boxy, to meh. It often lacks character. I turn my back on it, and I forget what it looks like.

With used furniture I never forget it’s face. And I don’t worry about who will make the first dent – it is there already, several of them, if I am lucky.

And if I ever had a quiet moment, I would fantasize about lazying around and fantasizing about who made each dent and how it happened. Used furniture is and endless source of entertainment, and most often not in the hahaha-it-broke-when-you-sat-on-it-kind. Plus there’s the financial bonus. Buying used cost so much less than new furniture, leaving you money for traveling and champagne.

And speaking of which, check out my vintage champagne glasses, they used to belong to Daisy Buchanan. Or not. They are not midcentury modern, which is the style I try to stick to when I select my vintage pieces. 


And as a rule it’s better to limit the amount of different styles in your home so that it all works coherently. But in this case I do not care. I love my flapper-glasses, and anything I feel so strongly about can only magnify the right atmosphere for me.

Rules are there to be broken, n’est-ce pas? That’s what character is all about, creating your own extensive set of rules that work to enhance your home for you.