Styling With Vintage Portraits


I spend a lot of time in and out of vintage stores, browsing market stalls and shopping on Etsy for one-off pieces, and something I’m always on the lookout for is original art. Good pieces are hard to come by but every so often you get lucky. This past summer I picked up some fabulous originals at the markets and I can’t wait to get them framed and on the wall. But lately I’ve been drawn particularly to vintage portraits and how they work in different interiors. Here is a selection of some of my favourite interiors that have incorporated vintage portraits, with some tips on how to make the look work.

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A nod to the past, moody, muted colour palettes and texture for days. They can look edgy one minute and sophisticated the next, depending on how and where they are hung and what they are grouped with. But I also love the sense of intrigue they bring to a space and how harmonizing they can be to a colour palette. You think I’ve gone mad? Take a look below and seriously tell me they aren’t pretty darn cool!

portrait 1

portrait 5

I think many people associate vintage portraits with classical and heavily ornate mansions stuffed floor to ceiling with velvet and damask upholstered lampshades and matching curtains. But these pictures prove that they work well in more clean and contemporary interiors too, and especially in a bohemian modern setting. I do like me a bit of boho modern {as you know}, so these images make me all warm and fuzzy inside.

Vintage portrait paintings look best hung on a crisp white wall to avoid the space looking too classical and heavy, paired with clean lined furniture and a muted colour palette. Bonus points if the space has characteristic features such as high ceiling, old doors or an awesome fireplace. My favorite pieces are oil on canvas paintings unframed, and then grouped together with graphic, contemporary pieces with simple, thin wooden frames.

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A couple of tips when selecting vintage portrait paintings:

Going eclectic? Create a gallery of portraits in varying sizes. Keep the overall colour palette in mind however to create a unifying collection that feels pulled together. Portraits pair beautifully with vintage landscapes and seascapes too.

If you prefer more minimal look but still love portrait paintings, keep things simple and choose one beautiful, sizable portrait in a soothing palette. Pair it with one or more simple monochromatic line drawings and sketches.

Where to find them? Etsy and eBay are good starting points online, and if you’re lucky and have a bit of patience you’re likely to find an old portrait at the flea market or thrift shop. To get this party started, here a four vintage portraits that caught my eye on Etsy this week:


1 . 2 . 3 . 4 .

Solo or in a cluster, framed or unframed, I’m all about the vintage portrait. Yes, you are too. Admit it. You’ll be hitting your local thrift store faster than you can say ‘does this painting smell like mildew?’.

Hope this brought you a bit of inspiration, folks. There’s plenty more where that came from over on my Pinterest boards if you’re looking to kill an hour {or five}.

Have a great day, and I’ll be back tomorrow with, wait for it… a GIVEAWAY!

H x

Image credits: 1. Penny Weight; 2. {clockwise from top left} Kara Rosenlund for The Design Files, Jennifer Causey for Design Sponge, Rue Magazine, The Dean Hotel; 3. Sarah Lavoine; 4. source unknown; 5. Elle Decoration UK; 6. Stadshem; 7. Etsy selection

One Response to “Styling With Vintage Portraits”

  1. […] ma avete paura di un effetto troppo classico? Vi consiglio di leggere questo post su Avenue Lifestyle. Troverete preziosi consigli su come introdurli in interni moderni e dallo stile […]

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