The Secret behind Beautiful Vintage Garden Decor

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Stepping into the garden has never felt more like stepping back in time. Surrounded by rattan chairs that whisper tales of the past, wrought iron tables that have stood the test of time, brass buckets that shimmer with history and glass cloches that protect more than just delicate plants – they protect history. Our love of all things antique and vintage has moved gracefully outdoors, blending the charm of yesteryear with the fresh air of today. It seems that the world inside our homes, full of treasured ornaments, has spilled out into the open air.

Now it’s the contemporary garden furniture and the latest barbecue technology that seem to be stepping aside to make way for the classics. They’re being lovingly overshadowed by the allure of the past, as our gardens become stages for a beautiful revival of vintage elegance. It’s not just about furniture; it’s a celebration of history, craftsmanship and nature in harmony. So, as the saying goes, revenge is indeed a dish best served cold – and, it turns out, with a side of vintage charm, right in our own backyards!

Garden Furniture: Vintage Takes Over

Having conquered other industries such as clothing, home decor, music, internet technologies, automotive and interior design, vintage is now invading the garden. Once the last stronghold of the home, where the only modern comforts tolerated were plush chairs and brand new barbecues, backyards, gardens and patios are now the perfect place to showcase vintage furniture.

The Why Behind the Trend

And it seems that this new trend goes far beyond a purely aesthetic approach. According to Gert van de Keuken, artistic director of the agency Studio Edelkoort, “vintage is somehow the answer to this romantic-nostalgic trend that affects all areas of the art of living, including the garden. But this phenomenon also reflects the fact that today’s consumers are taking a more ecological approach: they prefer to support nature rather than dominate it”.

Vintage Garden Decor: A Return to the Roots

This return to the roots – which also leads to the revival of forgotten vegetables in our kitchen gardens, such as rutabaga and butternut squash – is expressed in the choice of decorative elements “restored by hand, which fit in better with the natural landscape than contemporary furniture”, to quote Gert van de Keuken.

This trend is flourishing both on social networks such as Pinterest under the keywords “vintage garden” and in bookshops, where books such as Gardenalia: Creating the Stylish Garden and Gardenalia: Furnishing Your Garden with Flea Market Finds, Country Collectables and Architectural Salvage by Sally Coulthard (published by The Oak, 2013) offer advice and inspiration to garden decorating enthusiasts and amateurs.

While some antique shops and galleries are hitting the jackpot by catering to this trend among their regular (wealthy) clientele – think a pair of garden vases with mythological drawings that go for €9,000 at the Marc Maison gallery on Quai Voltaire in Paris, or a long rattan chair that costs €1,000 at the Vauclair gallery – other dealers are aiming for a more “democratic” niche. Julien Cohen of the Mes Découvertes gallery, for example, sells more affordable items such as a €70 brass bucket or a €115 Vermorel copper garden sprayer.

Choosing Authentic Over Neo-Vintage

Try to stay away from department store re-editions and neo-vintage collections, or replicas and knock-offs of iconic design furniture. Aside from the moral questionability of the latter, most of them won’t be as sturdy as the original, nor will they have the natural patina of a genuine vintage wooden bench, iron table or sculpture. And they’re often no cheaper than the original! Far from it.

Instead, take some time to check out flea markets and yard sales in your area or abroad. For example, in June 2015, the city of Paris hosted its first flea market dedicated to antiques and vintage garden furniture. As part of the “Gardens of the Tuileries” event, this flea market brought together a selection of twenty antique dealers and flea market sellers from the Saint-Ouen flea market near Paris. A great place to find vintage treasures for your garden!

Vintage Garden Decor: Do it but don’t overdo it

In the enchanting realm of vintage garden decor, there’s a delicate balance between creating an enchanting scene and overwhelming the senses. “Do it, but don’t overdo it” is a mantra worth embracing. While it’s tempting to fill every nook and cranny with antique finds, the real art is in the placement, allowing each carefully sourced piece to breathe and stand on its own.

Think of your garden as a gallery, where each vintage piece is a work of art that complements the natural beauty around it. Overcrowding can detract from the individual charm of each piece and muddle the overall aesthetic. Aim for a harmonious mix, where vintage pieces enhance the natural appeal of your garden, rather than overpowering it. This approach will ensure that your garden remains a serene and welcoming sanctuary, where each element has the space to tell its story.

Online shopping for vintage garden furniture

And if you’re out of luck in the real world, sourcing vintage garden furniture online offers a treasure trove of opportunities for enthusiasts looking to add charm and history to their outdoor spaces. Online marketplaces such as eBay and Etsy (a quick search for “vintage garden furniture” returns hundreds of results) are virtual goldmines, hosting a vast array of sellers from around the world, each offering unique pieces ranging from wrought iron benches to rattan loungers and antique planters. In addition, specialist online antique stores and marketplaces such as 1stdibs, Selency or Chairish cater to the discerning collector, offering carefully curated collections of garden furniture with provenance and character. Social media platforms, particularly Instagram and Facebook Marketplace, have also emerged as valuable resources, allowing direct interaction with sellers and the discovery of local gems.

Exploring these online avenues requires patience and persistence, but the reward is finding that perfect piece to add soul and history to your garden. Anyway, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither should your garden. Patience, fortitude and a bit of luck are the best ingredients to cultivate a truly unique and enchanting vintage garden. Like the carefully nurtured plants that bloom and grow over time, your collection of vintage garden decor will evolve, each piece adding its own story and charm to the tapestry of your outdoor sanctuary.