Old Home Decorating should be done tastefully and with care. Choosing an appropriate period in history to match your house is the first step. To give your guests the feel you want there is quite a bit you will need to understand.
Of course if you have a vintage home you do not have to decorate it in an old style. However if you decorate to the period of your house, the experience your guests will have will be much more memorable.
The secret is to maintain the flow. Viewing your house from the exterior should set your mind up for “an experience” as you enter the home and move from room to room. That same feeling should continue right into the kitchen.
Antique furniture is not all that set the stage for your old home decorating. The layout is also important. Let me use coffee tables as an example. While they are nice to have today, you would not find them in a 1920’s house. Nor will you find end tables. Furniture layout was different. While you don’t have to make your home into a museum, if you try to be as real as you can and not like everyone else’s home, your guests will be more impressed.
Models to Follow for Old Home Decorating and Design
Watching old movies can be very educational for owners of old homes. You will see examples of interior and exterior architectural features, landscaping, wallpaper, furniture, lighting, gadgets, etc. that will help with decorating your old home.
Watching a contemporary film of the period is your best example. In other words if you are watching a silent film from 1915 that takes place in 1915 (or close to it), you then have a great example to follow.
Be careful with older movies that represent earlier times. The movie “I’ll Cry Tomorrow ” with Susan Hayward (1955) is supposed to take place in the 1930’s, but the musical style, clothing, and hair style, and furniture are 1950’s.
Most old movies were filmed on movie sets and not in real homes, but these interior and exterior props were designed based on real life rooms of the period. So a movie set is as accurate as if it were a real house of the time – except for the cardboard walls.
Sherlock Jr. (Buster Keaton 1924) in the above photo is one such example to follow. There is really a lot of information in this picture to use as a model for old home decorating.
Some things I like to pick out are the new electric wires mounted on the exterior of the wall which leads to a toggle light switch predating push-button switches.
Round frosted light bulbs that look like ping pong balls in chandeliers and sconces, are seen in silent films in 1920 and then changed to more pointed bulbs around the mid 1930’s.
Many times at movie-night parties with friends I will have to ask to reverse the movie just so I can get a closer look at a light switch or a toaster. You can imagine my friend’s enjoyment when I ask that!
One friend sent me a link of car crashes from 1930
Through this I found a good photo of exterior folding shutters to add to my website.
Notice the 2nd floor windows. On the center window the shutters are closed but on the right window the shutters are open and folded over to fit into a narrow space. This is important to know if you have a similar window and want to add shutters.
There are also some books I have listed on my website. These books are great for old home decorating.
Here is one such book I recommend. Interior photos 1860-1917 This book features a collection of photos from 1860 through 1917 of real rooms in average homes that a person can relate to.
What better way to understand period decorating styles than by examples.
Here is another great site with old photos organized by decade. www.retronaut.com
So get the popcorn, sit back, and let the silver screen transport you back in time and help you with your old home and antiques.
Please use the Comment box below to let us know if you have any suggestions of movies or photos sites!
Check out my old home decorating here.
I always wanted a piano shawl or piano scarf for my player piano. I have seen them briefly in the background of old movies. I have searched for them for years at flee markets and on the internet with no luck.
When watching the 1933 version of Little Women with Katherine Hepburn and Joan Bennett , I noticed that every fireplace mantle was dressed in a mantle scarf – not really different from a piano scarf. I paused the movie and took photographs.
I was able to see the type of material, tassels and fringes, and how it was constructed. Notice in the photo, to create the draped look, it is tacked to the underside of the mantle.
Of course I would not put tacks in my piano, but can have it stitched as such to reproduce an authentic piano scarf. I would have it draped higher in the center for access to the piano rolls.
Here are the pictures if you would also like to copy them!
Our readers along with myself would love to hear any stories you have about “movie inspiration” for your home etc.