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Why Does Vintage Furniture Get Such a Bad Rap?

Updated: May 24

Going Beyond Shabby Chic and Discovering the Artistry of Upcycled Vintage Furniture

What is it about the word "Vintage" that doesn't quite click when it's associated with "furniture"?

Join Susan Ruth, the insightful voice of The Furniture Artists Collective, as she unravels a common misconception and reveals a world brimming with surprises and endless possibilities……

Cover image by Katherine Smith at Eclectic Art Studio Clacton-on-Sea

Is Vintage Furniture by Definition Shabby?

Let’s talk about the difference between the word “Vintage” and the phrase “Shabby Chic”, because they’re definitely not the same, and we’re in real danger here of missing out on some extraordinary upcycled vintage furniture just because it’s been labelled “shabby chic”.

Could it be we’re too fixated on the “shabby” and not enough on the “chic”?

Here’s what I mean…..

The word “Vintage” conjures up so many different images depending on what it’s describing, doesn’t it?

A “Vintage” teacup brings to mind images of ornately decorated, impossibly delicate china cups with handles you can’t quite get your finger through and you fear will snap clean off should you try too hard.

“Vintage” Couture takes you straight into the world of Chanel and Dior, of Hardy Amies evening gowns and beautifully simple elegance....... Oh, the dreaminess!

A “Vintage” car is something to behold. I had a Rolls Royce Phantom for our wedding. I felt like a Princess in it. Definitely not too shabby!

But somehow, when the word "Vintage" is attached to furniture, we often find ourselves thinking of worn-out pieces, chipped paint, and faded fabrics.

It's as if the term "Vintage" somehow got lost in translation!

Put another way, “Vintage Furniture” is often thought to be synonymous with “Shabby Chic”, and even though that may have been true in the 1980s when the phrase was first coined, my goodness me, how we’ve moved on.

“Vintage” furniture is not just a passing trend or a fleeting phase.

“Vintage” in the context of furniture, speaks of our heritage, our history, of a time when craftsmanship in all things was prized and cherished.

Therefore, Vintage” should be celebrated and shouted from the rooftops.

In fact, I firmly believe that no "Vintage" (or "Shabby Chic") treasure should ever be dismissed without exploring the boundless array of possibilities it holds.

Need some extra inspiration or persuasion?

Feast your eyes on these breathtaking vintage pieces crafted by our talented artists at The Furniture Artists Collective. And Prepare to be amazed!

Jess Garratt:: Awoken Attic Kendal, Cumbria

Jess’s work has such a magical quality to it. It’s like stepping into a fairy tale.

This stunning dressing table brings to mind Cinderella’s wedding dress and Belle’s ball gown.

It’s ethereal, pretty, ornate, decorative and unashamedly vintage.

Meanwhile, Sandy LaCassa North with Granola Girl Treasures in Port Orange, Florida, has a simple yet resolute mission. She will give your home stylish beauty and functionality with pieces that have stood the test of time.

Although unwanted by some, Sandy sees the rare opportunity to restyle each and every item and creates stunningly eye-catching pieces that will grace any home for years to come.

Rachel Roberts of Ridgeways Designs is most definitely a 21st Century artist. She upstyles vintage furniture for thoroughly modern interiors. With her keen eye for detail and impeccable design skills, Rachel has mastered the art of enhancing the original beauty - often resulting in the most surprising transformations.

If you're on the hunt for a Vintage gem that effortlessly captures the essence of its rich heritage, then look no further than Leeds artist Rachael Dobson of Classic Lines Designs.

Her masterful touch breathes new life into each piece as if they were destined to embrace their newfound glory from the very beginning.

Just look at this transformation. It feels natural and organic but still pays homage to the cabinet’s heritage and design roots.

(Interestingly, Rachael’s approach is to study the grain pattern of the piece she's working on, allowing space for her design to emerge rather than forcing something on it.)

And let’s not forget that these wonderfully talented artisans don’t just produce breathtaking upcycled wood furniture. They also produce some of the most stylish re-upholstered items too.

Just look at this fabulous upcycled chair by Sandra Bellew Gibbons Artisan’s Loft. in Llandudno, North Wales. Proof, if needed, that upcycling goes far beyond paint and varnish.

Sandra's passion for jungle fabrics and lush, large-leaved tropical plant designs shines through all her work and brings everything bang up to date for a contemporary interior design.

Staying with upholstery just marvel at the sheer magic unleashed on this Lloyd Loom style chair, courtesy of the incredibly talented ,Jane Page at The Revamp Shack Peterborough.