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Image / Living / Interiors

Interior designer Sorcha Harman shares her tips for sourcing and styling vintage pieces


By Megan Burns
14th Mar 2024
Interior designer Sorcha Harman shares her tips for sourcing and styling vintage pieces

From where to find the best pieces to incorporating them into your space, she has lots of helpful advice.

Sorcha Harman of interior design studio Porcha Design has a vast knowledge of design. She studied Textile Design at NCAD and has worked in award-winning studios throughout Los Angeles, and London, Ireland and Berlin. A lover of vintage pieces, we picked her brains for where to source them, how best to style them, and what she currently is on the lookout for.

Why do you like to include vintage elements when you’re designing a space?
I think it’s one of the best ways to include your own energy and personality into your home. Vintage pieces infuse such a touch of magic into a space, they can add so much charm and personal stories to each room scheme too. Anything from a family heirloom to an interesting find at a market you stumbled upon can really add that special something. 

I think including older pieces is also a great way to balance out everything that looks oftentimes too shiny and new, almost like a showroom. You want your home to feel like a home and a reflection of you. 

I’m a big fan of reusing when possible too. For me, reupholstering and re-stuffing a sofa that you find really comfortable is so much better than buying something brand new, whether it’s something you’ve had for ages or something you managed to pick up second hand. 

Linked below is my own kitchen, which combines old and new.

How is it best to incorporate vintage elements into your space?
For me, the easiest and best way to strike a nice balance between old and new pieces is by mixing eras of furniture styles. Try to consider the wood finishes and metal finishes.

Not everyone is a fan of mixing metals but I really love it and think it can make styling super simple and it gives you a larger scope and flexibility when buying vintage too.

Mixing old pieces within a more modern interior scheme can ensure the room doesn’t begin to look a bit “one note” and too curated.

I think the key is to only really buy what you love for whatever reason that might be, rather than only thinking of mid-century for example, or trying to purchase only “on trend” items. You’ll find that you’ll strike a perfect balance if you seek out things you genuinely love the look of.

It’s also important to disperse your newly found vintage elements throughout the room to prevent the space from becoming overly focused on a single era or style. This approach helps vintage and modern elements complement each other effectively. Spreading out the vintage love is always a great way of striking a balance and allowing the old and new to sit next to each other nicely.

Are there any kinds of vintage pieces in particular that you love to look for, or any you recommend steering clear of?
I literally steer clear of nothing! I really love old traditional accessories; little Dala Swedish horses along with Staffordshire dog figurines are my most prized possessions at the moment. Some people might think it’s a weird combo but it looks sweet for now. 

I would just always try to avoid anything noticeably too on-trend, unless you really love it and see its beauty beyond the hype. 

My apartment is full of old little finds from charity shops and vintage stores,  we’ve started to collect hand-painted plates from different places we’ve visited, it’s my version of the fridge magnet.

Sorcha and her collection of plates.

Where do you recommend people look for vintage pieces?
I find hunting down little vintage travel blogs while travelling is the best way to find the most amazing and unique pieces. If you’re in a big city, always, *always* visit the vintage stores. They are usually clustered together and most of the shop owners will ship if you do happen to find something really special.

I get truly excited by visiting markets across Europe for homeware accessories. Not only are their prices a fraction of the cost compared to Ireland, but you can really find the most amazing pieces, which add so much flavour and charm to your home. 

In Dublin, one of my favourites is Under the Bridge on Talbot Street, for plates, spoons, vases and smaller decorations. I’ve bought so much there in the last few years. 

Salvage shops are amazing too. Macs Warehouse at Memorial Park is really fun to visit along with the Store Yard.

There’s also so much online. Sometimes, I search through the more obvious options like 1st Dibs, Effetto, and Pamono just to get some inspiration. Then, I cheekily scour for the things I’ve found on those sites elsewhere, on places like eBay, Etsy, Vinterior.com, The Modern Marketplace, Selency, and The Peanut Vendor to see if I can find a better deal.

I love to follow @keptlondon, @pato_interiors, @williamson_adams, and @cherubsetc for quick spontaneous purchases on Instagram too.

Having worked in so many beautiful studios across Dublin, London, and Los Angeles, how has this benefited you now that you’ve branched out on your own? And are you hoping to continue to include many vintage pieces within your new work?
I feel very lucky to have had the privilege to work on so many amazing teams. It’s been incredible to learn from my previous employers and colleagues along the way. Each city and studio has really opened my eyes wider to so many different perspectives within interiors and design in general, but I really think the people you spend your time with are the key for continued growth and learning. I will 100% be focusing on including more old finds and preloved pieces in my new work.

What are your three top picks that you’re hunting for right now? 

-A pair of Jean Royère’s two-armed Bouquet wall lights, I love them so much. 

-An Art Deco mirror is something I would really love, similar to the Art Deco Wall Mirror France, circa 1928 from Maison Gerard. 

-A classical Murano chandelier, it’s not everyone’s favourite and I used to really dislike them actually up until recently when I visited a glass blowing studio in Murano, Venice, and now I have a whole new appreciation for them. In the right space, they are amazing. 

This article was originally published in November 2023.