A vintage living room heralds back to the days of sitting rooms, parlors, studies and formal living rooms. You can update this style to create a classic feeling in your home. It has an air of sophistication to it, but you can update it to make it work for a family.
A vintage table lamp should have an elaborate shade; even if you're just looking for a reproduction. For a standing lamp find a shade made entirely from beads or crystals for an air of elegance or the feel of a vintage office, study or library. You can also go with a stained glass look to bring in color, pattern and a traditional feeling to the room.
A vintage living room has a formal feeling to it. Look for an upholstered couch. These couches were rarely comfortable so look for a more formal new couch with carved wood detail or a curved back that is still comfortable. Pair it with traditional wing back chairs or living room arm chairs. The chairs can have a floral or damask pattern to them to add interest to the room. If you have solid furniture then try adding wallpaper to the walls for that sense of formality. You can stick to just one wall if you're scared of wallpaper. Wallpaper can still be contemporary just look for a paper with a bolder pattern, even if it's basic black and white. A larger pattern will seem contemporary and make wallpaper cool.
Another option for your couch is to bring the color onto the sofa like using a lavender or eggplant velvet and keeping the walls a more contemporary bright white or gray. Leather sofas aren't really used in vintage design. However look for a tufted sofa in dark green, blue, or burgundy. Skip more modern black sofas with straight lines.
For a modern look that isn't cluttered place smaller items together to tell a story. Instead of scattering clocks throughout the room place them all on the mantle. Hang several smaller pictures in different frames. You can tie a ribbon to the top so it looks like the picture is hanging from the ribbon for a touch of femininity. Turn your favorite photos black and white or sepia so they work with your overall design style.
You can often find vintage accessories at garage sales and thrift stores for just a few dollars but you probably already have some laying around the house just waiting to make a statement. Hang several vintage mirrors on the wall. Just make sure that all of the frames match like silver antique looking intricately framed mirrors. You can also paint the frames black or white for a modern take on vintage style. You can also give life to old wall clocks by hanging several on the wall. Just make sure that they don't all have batteries in them or the ticking will drive you crazy. Also set the clocks to funny times so your guests won't mistake it for the actual time and always be running late. Another option for a formal vintage living room is to just hang a collection of silver trays on the wall.
No vintage living room is complete without a fireplace and an oriental rug. If you don't have a fireplace then bring an electric fireplace and mantle and hang a mirror over it. If you aren't into oriental rugs look for a patterned rug or a more muted version of a traditional classic rug.
So often now decor focuses on the TV. Back in the vintage day the focal point was books. Find old card catalogs or reproductions where you can store DVDs and CDs. You can take the dust jackets off your book to make them look older and more elegant. You can even have your kids recover all of the books in white paper for a more contemporary room that still uses vintage items. You can make groupings of floral arrangements or collections of shells on the bookshelves. Hang vintage artwork on top of empty shelves for a layered look.
If you're afraid that your vintage room will be too dark, especially for a small space, then break out the paint. You can put up elaborate moldings to add architectural interest to the room. If you have high ceilings showcase them by installing an intricate ceiling medallion. You can even put one of these up if you have recessed lighting. Just put it in the middle of the ceiling so it looks like a carving although you'll want a medallion without a small hole so it doesn't just look like you're missing the chandelier.
You can create a tray ceiling effect by putting up several rectangles of molding, one inside the other. Paint them all the same color. For a truly vintage look go for a hexagon shape and wider molding. You can create elaborate crown molding. Paint a white stripe or put up a pale wallpaper border near the top of the ceiling. Put small molding on either side so it looks like one wide piece after you paint it all the same color. This makes a big impact in the room but saves a lot of money.
If you can't afford expensive deco wood pieces then try painting your furniture. You can paint a coffee table or side chairs with ivory or butter yellow paint. Use a brown glaze to give it an antique feeling. The glaze will also really show off any elaborate carvings.
If you're afraid of the darker Victorian colors just stick with neutrals. You'll need to use opulent fabrics like velvets, silks and pillows with lots of tassels and beaded fringe. Liven up a taupe room with splashes of gold fabric. You can make your own modern color palette for a room that doesn't feel stuffy.
A vintage living room has an air of formality that is traditional but also livable. This room can transition from elegant to casual depending on your lifestyle. Best of all you probably already have most of the items in your home for this design style you just need to rearrange things.