Friday, 18 December 2015

Top Tips: How to add some vintage style to your Christmas

Judith Miller shares her top tips on adding that vintage touch to your Christmas

Written by Judith Miller
vintage-home-176-2Christmas is the perfect time to have fun with vintage – both in decorating your home or giving original gifts. The point about vintage is that it brings originality and interest to Christmas decorating. We are bombarded with sameness and sets of everything. Vintage can bring a unique, creative look.

Firstly vintage glassware. It is easy to buy mixed lots of vintage glassware at local auctions. Don't think sets – think mix and match. Late 19thC glasses and mid 20thC Murano vases look wonderful filled with seasonal flowers. Look out for Czech glass from the 1960s and 70s. Some can still be found very inexpensively. Look out for Frantisek Zemek, Pavel Hlava, Milan Metelek.

Also think of serving that glass of champagne in an Art Deco flute or have a set of fun 1960s bathing beauties water glasses on the table. Serve wine in a collection of Czech, Murano, Scandinavian, Whitefriars glasses – the more variety of colours and shapes the better.

Search out some vintage candlesticks – there are some great funky shapes and coloured glass from the 1950s and 60s. Position them near (but not too near!) a display of early Christmas cards and prints.

And if you are into wacky post-modernism, look out for anything designed by Ettore Sottsass and the Memphis Group (from a Bob Dylan song) in Milan, Italy from the 1980s. He is quoted as saying "When I was young all we ever heard was functionalism, functionalism, functionalism. It's not enough. Design should be sensual and exciting." His work was brash and colourful with a playful approach to form and function.

And the all-important Christmas tree. Many vintage shops now carry decorations from the 1950s and 60s – think wild plastics and tinsel. As everyone was obsessed with the space race – there are some great sputnik shapes around.

As receptacles for the essential Christmas pot pourri again local auctions are a great place to find job lots of porcelain bowls and plates from any period. That is the great thing about not looking for sets – it's cheaper -and each individual piece stands out.

And to use or to give search out Midwinter pottery ceramics. Designed by Jessie Tait, Hugh Casson and Terence Conran in the 1950s they bring a 50s feel to any table. Look out for 'Riviera', 'Bands and Dots', Red Domino, 'Zambesi' and the 'Saladware' range.

And for gifts – you can be certain that costume jewellery from the 1930s-80s will be a great hit. From the pricier end – Chanel, Christian Dior, Miriam Haskell, Stanley Hagler to the more affordable Lea Stein and unsigned pieces. Bargains are still out there.

Give a Christmas Art Deco cocktail party! Get vintage cocktail shakers - from enameled glass to silver plated penguins to glass printed with cocktail recipes. Buy the 'Savoy Cocktail Book'. The 1920s and 30s were risqué and fun with many humorous sets of shakers and glasses – still to my mind undervalued. Or try the bar ware from the 1950s and 60s. You could suggest your friends come in vintage!

Vintage Home: 20th-century Design for Contemporary Living by Judith Miller. Published by Jacqui Small, £30.

Reader Offer

To order Vintage Home by Judith Miller at the discounted price of £24 including p&p* (RRP: £30), telephone 01903 828503 or email and quote the offer code APG395.
*UK ONLY - Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas.

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