Add some pizzazz with vintage trends

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Have you ever longed to follow your heart in your home and create a space that truly reflects your taste?

If so, there's a fresh, new decor cocktail, which allows you to mix individual old and new ingredients, and could be just the ticket for shaking up rooms.

"I love that modern vintage look that doesn't come from a catalogue," says interiors stylist Emily Chalmers. "Without a little vintage, sleek modern interiors can seem soulless.

"And without a modern context, vintage pieces seem fusty and staid. Yet when they come together for this style, interiors become completely fresh."

Her new book, Modern Vintage Style, opens the door to homes where owners have embraced this approach, to create inspiring fun, quirky and personality-filled settings.

It's guaranteed to appeal to those bored with the bland, who don't want to slavishly follow trends and prefer to march to their own decor tune.

As Chalmers promises: "There are no style diktats, no 'this must go with that' rules. This approach is all about trusting your instincts and taste, and using your imagination to seek out the right items for your own blend of contemporary and modern."

Even better, the style won't break your budget, as many vintage pieces cost next to nothing and can be found in flea markets, jumble sales, car boot sales, second-hand shops or church fairs.

"When you find them, it's like winning the style lottery," says Chalmers. "It also feels so right for now, tapping into the zeitgeist for reusing, recycling and repurposing.

"More than ever, we're conscious that instead of constantly buying new things, we must look after and recycle the old. The bonus is those pieces of yesteryear are made with care and craftsmanship."

WORK THE LOOK: "Nothing has to match because your own taste will bind everything together. Discard all the rules except one – contrast," advises the stylist and author, who has six previous books under her belt.

"When you choose a modern piece, think vintage, and whenever you're going too traditional, it's time to inject a touch of the contemporary. That way, you'll strike a balance and introduce wit, flair and personality into your home."

Contrast your decorating style with your furniture to promote that old-and-new atmosphere, she says, so distressed rag-rolled walls could be the perfect foil for streamlined modern furniture, or juxtapose 60s graphic wallpaper with pieces such as antique wooden chests.

"The homes I visited for the book have been a labour of love. The owners have let their interiors unfold around their passions, embracing the kitsch, the quirky and the eccentric to conjure unique and unforgettable spaces."

GET THE LOOK: Follow Emily's tips for creating your own old-meets-new interiors:

Cabinet clever: Source old-fashioned cabinets from local salvage or junkyards, or give existing modern cabinets a twist by decorating doors with antique tiles or vintage wallpaper and adding glass or china handles. Alternatively, remove cupboard doors altogether for an open retro look and dress with chintz fabric curtains to conceal contents.

Furniture fixes. Pieces which share a design ethic can help bring visual harmony; mid-century modern connects well with minimalist Japanese, while modern country furniture sits well with antiques. A 60s graphic throw, a piece of old lace, or a crocheted blanket can give a modern high-street sofa an injection of vintage.

Sleeping style: Scour second-hand shops for hand-woven linens, hand-stitched quilts or old paisley duvets for a bed dressed vintage style. Use empty barrels, ornate chairs, small drawer units or a collection of old suitcases as quirky bedside tables.

Ring the changes: If you like a piece but it's not quite right, consider style surgery. Replace a fusty floral seat cover with one in a bold colour or a striking pattern. An item with chipped paint, worn corners or in an outdated finish can be quickly reinvented with a coat of brightly coloured paint.

Let it breathe: If you find a vintage roll-top desk, an old sewing machine or an exquisite Chinese wardrobe or other treasure, let those pieces stand alone and enjoy the limelight, rather than cluttering them with accessories. They'll be particularly eye-catching in formerly redundant corners, like landings or hallways.

Fabric-wise: Retro-istas in the know refer to vintage as the period between 1920 and 1980, while post-1980 fabrics are deemed modern. Old beads, pom poms, ribbons or sequins sewn on to favourite cushions or curtains will add flair to modern fabrics. Vintage quilts, particularly old hand-sewn crib quilts, make stunning wall art or curtains.

Paint the past: Reflect an era in wall colour. The 50s were all about soft pastels such as baby pink, apple green and sky blue; the 60s went psychedelic - hot pink, deep turquoise and dark purple; and the 70s became all warm and neutral with olive green, burnt orange and fresh mustard. A classic pairing, like white and blue, is timeless, while monochrome evokes a mid-century yet modern look.

Pay and display: Indulge a passion for collecting whatever takes your fancy, from kitsch creatures to zany toys and hip art, and make a display of finds.

* Modern Vintage Style by Emily Chalmers and Ali Hanan, photography by Debi Treloar, is published by Ryland Peters & Small, priced £19.99. Available to readers for £14.99 (inc p&p); call Macmillan Direct on 01256 302699 and quote ref KC5.

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