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How to Blend Contemporary and Vintage Style

Squeamish about intermingling your eras? Jill O’Neill, owner of Belfast store ReFound, shares her passion for vintage design and interior style by showing us how best to introduce vestiges of classic style into a modern home…

Housed in the industrial setting of an old factory in the centre Belfast, ReFound is a unique retail experience, selling upcycled, vintage and industrial homewares. According to owner Jill O’Neill the landscape for vintage style interior design has become wonderfully varied and elaborate in recent years, and so has the language describing it.

How to Blend Contemporary and Vintage Style | Image.ie

Jill O’Neill at home with her son Harvey. Photo: Ruth Maria Murphy.

“The trend for eclectic interiors using vintage and industrial products alongside luxury pieces has continued to stay a feature in interiors: home and abroad, commercial and residential,” says Jill. “In particular the demand for reclaimed and repurposed items is what excites us at ReFound. It’s not only an interiors trend, it’s a way of life for many of us that value ‘old stuff’ and are sustainably conscious.”

How to Blend Contemporary and Vintage Style | Image.ie

Cobalt Blue Pixel Metal clock by ‘Hey Bulldog, Dublin’ £45 (€58), made from small strips of radiator metal joined to form a hexagonal shape.

So just what is an ‘upcycled product’? “It is taking an object or item that has been lost, forgotten or become useless and giving it a new lease of life – so a factory wall lamp becomes a stylish desk lamp or a tired wooden table has different legs added to become a more contemporary dining table.”

How to Blend Contemporary and Vintage Style | Image.ie

Harland & Wolff Drawer Lockers. £145 each (€185). These 1940’s admin boxes are a unique slice of Belfast heritage.

And now a few tips from Jill on how to embrace vintage style while maintaining a modern edge:

1. Start small. If you aren’t too sure of what your vintage style is yet, then start with just a few choice pieces. Try retro patterned cushions or vintage crockery, or an anglepoise lamp to add to a desk or side table. You might find that you are drawn towards a particular era of vintage style – so by buying small at first and styling an area with these, you can slowly build up from there.

2. Mix it up. Contemporary lifestyles need interiors to be functional, so some vintage items won’t suit, but there are a few items that will suit any space. Even the most modern of homes can beautifully house an industrial light or table, a classic midcentury chair or an up-cycled piece such as shelves or a coffee table. Retro or industrial items look especially amazing against a neutral decor pallet. Quality teak furniture mixed with whites and neutrals plant a sweet Scandinavian atmosphere within your home, while vintage objects with steel, glass or raw wood introduce an industrial flavour, adding interest and personality.

3. Feel it. Think ‘What is the atmosphere I want to create?’ Colorful geometric patterns and slightly kitsch furniture will bring fun and quirkiness to your home decor. Whether you are redesigning a room or just picking up pieces to decorate, look for items you really love that seem well-made & don’t have wood-worm! Having a story to the piece is a bonus too.

How to Blend Contemporary and Vintage Style | Image.ie

Camera Light by Twisted Vintage £75 (€96). This local maker makes unique pieces exclusively for ReFound.

All items are available from ReFound.

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