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In Your Space

Old Charm

By Amelia Tham on 18th October 2010

Amelia Tham from Iconic Designs loves creating beautiful spaces and sharing her passion through her blog. Her style is fluid and she captures her current fixations in her postings. A proud Malaysian, Amelia is set on promoting local talents to her worldwide readers.


In this article, we’re touching on a topic that is very close to my heart – reuse and recycle. While it makes me immensely happy to see more recycle stations around the Klang Valley, I wince at the sight of totally useable materials that’s tossed out without any regard for a second life. The environment is at the tip of everyone’s tongue but where do we start our eco-friendly initiatives when it comes to home furnishing? How about giving back some love to pre-loved furniture? Take a step back and picture how the furniture that once had a place in your home would look with a new coat of paint or reupholstered in a more current pattern.

Vintage iron bedframe via House Beautiful

Vintage Furniture Most of us have some preconception of a vintage furniture shop, that it’s dusty, disorganized and the items could fall apart anytime in its old age. These days, vintage store owners have recognized the importance of a clean and tidy shop for their customers to browse through the hidden treasures at their own sweet time. Modern vintage stores have revamped into a pleasant retail stores with lots of curious and charming discoveries that make you wanting to go back for more. Why should we buy vintage goods? The fact is, furniture these days are designed to look in trend and sold at a low price. Companies that used to hire skilled local craftsmen have turned their business offshore to high capacity and low priced manufacturing facilities like those in China, India, Indonesia and Vietnam. The result is often overlooked quality and low grade materials used to achieve low pricing. Furniture that’s constructed from high quality materials such as solid wood will last for generations and some designs will even go up in value. Just like a new car, furniture that’s made of inferior materials will depreciate the moment you bring it home.


Restoring an old piece of furniture allows you to be creative in creating an updated look that matches your overall decorating scheme. It is satisfying knowing that your refurbished furniture will be one of a kind, full of character and it will very likely have a great story to tell when your guests see it. Vintage Accessories Decorating with vintage accessories doesn’t mean your house will look like a page from yesteryear. Use the power of colour and patterns to bring it into the direction that you want to go, whether it’s bohemian, French country, retro or simply chic.

From left: Vintage trunks via La Maison Boheme; Charming old cabinet with a hint of blue; Vintage wallpaper, usually only available in limited quantities are patch-worked above the wall skirting

Your mother or grandmother’s home is the best source of vintage accessories. They are the keepers of objects that have been passed down through generations and they are often very happy to pass it on to a custodian who will continue to care for it. Plus, they’d usually give it to you for free! There are no limits to decorating with vintage accessories. Anything from old trunks, candelabras, to biscuit tins that are no longer manufactured, can be charmingly curated into your home decor. Recycled Raw Materials Old buildings are being torn down every day to make way for new developments and that spells a great opportunity to get your hands on exquisite materials (at a low price or sometimes even free) such as solid wood beams, doors and window frames. If you are lucky enough to find a source for old railway tracks, guard them with your life because wood that is of such high industrial quality are highly prized these days. There are a few, though not many ‘interior archaeologists’, a term that I have personally coined for such collectors, who painstakingly remove and preserve fixtures from old buildings such as ceramic tiles. Antique tiles are intricately designed with lots of personality and will usually last a few lifetimes. It may be challenging to collect enough pieces to fill a large floor area and so it’s often used as a kitchen backsplash or coffee table tops.


Antique mirrors, with its romantic French bistro look are another well sought vintage artefact. Framed antique mirrors are more accessible in vintage furniture stores than unframed pieces of mirror with original patina. If you’re not quite sure what make antique mirrors special, it’s the forming of patina that creates the lacklustre appearance and a tarnished tone. Pieces of unframed antique mirrors look stunning when assembled on a feature wall.

Clockwise: Antique wall with patina formed over the paint; Cute tiles that can be used as coasters via Apartment Therapy (They don’t make them like this anymore); Antique mirrors used as wall decor via Habitually Chic; Vintage subway tiles make up the backsplash via Martha Stewart

Old Charm  

Explore the charm of pre-loved furniture and home decor.

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