Above, designer Christopher Kennedy enhances a fabulous Palm Springs home with timeless pieces that are anything but dated.
Vintage design can be tough: If you choose the wrong pieces, your home can feel “old”, rather than eclectic. But this shouldn’t scare you off from trying out the trends of the past. While we always advocate choosing the pieces you love regardless of whether or not it’s on-trend, there are a few vintage elements that are always safe choices. Read on for our favorite furniture and accessories currently for sale at Sotheby’s Home that have more than withstood the test of time:
Fun conversation pieces
In the ’50s and ’60s, decor got a bit whimsical — especially when it came to accessories. Small figural sculptures added charm to bookcases, side tables, shelves, and desks everywhere. We’d love this vintage brass alligator figure in any decade.
Burl wood veneers
Whether it was the chunky, sculptural tables of the ’80s or the elegant spare-lined designs of the mid-century, burl wood adds gorgeous interest. The unusual grain reads like a pattern — almost like tortoiseshell — without feeling overwhelming or dated. The burl veneer armoire by White Furniture Company is a standout storage piece that brings a slight element of drama to a bedroom.
It seems like bar carts hit their peak in mid-century homes in designs that varied from sculptural to classic. Even if you don’t frequently host cocktail parties, a bar cart has a timeless appeal and an unexpected versatility. You could use it as intended, as buffet space, display space, or even for extra storage. The vintage chrome and glass oval drinks trolley would fit all these tasks, all while looking flawless in the process.
X-base benches and stools
We can’t think of a decade in which an x-base bench or stool hasn’t been popular. Vintage versions tend to have a more unique feel, making them a great choice for accent pieces. We love the graceful detail in the Italian x-form upholstered stools, which date back to the 1940s.
Charming enamel serving pieces
One of the easiest ways to add a touch of vintage character into your home is with enamel serving pieces. Often designed with bright colors or whimsical patterns, these pieces can be highly collectible. This Hanova of Pasadena enameled steel serving dish is a fantastic example of vintage California design.
Even more ubiquitous than bar carts in the mid-century era was the fabulous glassware that went with them. Today, it can be hard to find such flair in glassware, but vintage versions abound with elegant examples. One such set? The vintage mid-century iridescent cordial glasses, which have an exquisite form and stunning sheen.
Elegant Dining Tables
You can be confident that a vintage dining table will look fabulous for years. After all, it already has withstood the test of decades of wear-and-tear. While antique tables are also great choices for those looking to incorporate something different in their homes, the vintage designs of the mid-century are particularly timeless for their elegant proportions and distinctive silhouettes. This vintage mahogany dining table has a modern feel, yet dates back to the 1950s.
It’s no secret that we love Lucite, along with any other types of acrylic furniture and accessories. It preserves the sight lines in a room (a particularly good quality to have when used in a smaller space), it has a sculptural look, and it’s unexpected. A small side table, like this vintage round Lucite design, is a low-risk way to try out this material in your room.