Incorporating old finds into your design by Kevin Twitty

Designing with vintage finds and antique heirlooms are a great way to add interest into your home. It is such a treat when you walk into someone's home and see a unique piece of furniture, one of a kind vintage art, or upcycled accessory.

One of my best friends and fellow designer, April Williams, is an expert in hunting down pre-loved finds and bringing new life to them, so I asked her to guest blog about the questions she asks herself before incorporating fabulous finds into her design. Here are the questions April asks when incorporating old finds into your design.

Does it bring you joy?

Do you feel happy or at least have fond memories when you look at or hold the piece?!  You should—if not, get rid of that thing.  There’s no reason to keep it otherwise.  If it’s been passed down in your family and you no longer, or maybe never did, enjoy this “thing” then offer it up to the rest of the family.  If there aren’t any takers, that lets you know it’s surely okay to let it go. 

This piece of gravel art was always hanging in my grandmother's house, made in the 60's by my great-grandmother. I loved it then and even more now. 



Does it add Character?

If you feel your space is a bit lackluster and boring, try adding a little character.  It’ll make your environment much more inviting and so stagnant, as if you’ve walked into one store and purchased everything at once.  This is a pet peeve of mine in regard to design; your home should not be a collection of items that personalize and enhance, not just fill, the voids. Incorporate you and your history into the design. 

Reupholstered tufted sofa before and after

My style is more eclectic than most, so it’s no surprise that I wanted a classic tufted velvet sofa.  I knew I wanted a camelback sofa, so I searched high and low, then found an old inverted camelback (even better!) for only $250! As you can see in the before picture, it needed some love, so I found upholstery services in the area that would allow me to customize it to my desire.   Better yet, a dear friend got me a sweet discount on some high durability faux velvet. I ordered the fabric and some new spindle legs, and watched my dream come to life. This show stopper added so much character to my home. 

Is it unique?

If it’s just a random, on-trend item, consider finding something more special that will stand the test of time—think classic.  Trends come and go and come again, so if you like the idea of what you’re considering purchasing, maybe look for a vintage or antique one instead.  The hunt is one of my favorite parts of finding special décor.  Take time to drop into a few estate sales or a trip to a flea market; you never know what you may find!  Even Etsy or Ebay will do, just look for something that strikes you—the item should evoke emotion.

Wall decor can be that unexpected touch in a room. I like using old frames in lieu of new.

Wall decor can be that unexpected touch in a room. I like using old frames in lieu of new.

Does it have a story? 

Maybe it’s an heirloom or something you bought at a garage sale, but you got to hear about its life before you owned it and the story intrigued you.  If so, it will likely be a great conversational item that company will enjoy learning about, too. 


I have wanted one of these tables for several years now, but was certainly not willing to pay the hefty price.  However, I stopped at an estate sale on my way out of town (like I had room to be hauling extra stuff around) a few weekends ago, and scored HUGE.  Do you hear me, huge?!  These bad boys are way out of my price range, but this particular day, I found one originally marked $300, it had been slashed to $150, but everything was an additional 50% off so I grabbed it and didn’t think twice about spending a mere $75 bucks when the one you see above would run you $2,800 on 1st Dibs. The lady that had owned it was a world traveler and brought it home from Pakistan. I loved the story behind this table, and, not to mention, it is unique, has character, and brings me joy!

Is it functional?

Always consider the functionality of the item.  Will it serve a purpose or will is simply be beautiful and fill an empty space?  Will it have an immediate home when you take it into your house?  Will you actually use and enjoy it?  These are few things to consider when debating adding to the place you love and spend your quality time.

Upcycled mason jars used as flower vases

And lastly, upcycling can be as simple as using an item differently than its original intended use, like the old Mason jar as a vase above. Not to mention, flowers always add a special touch to any room. 

April Wiliams, RID, NCIDQ

About the author: April is a Registered Interior Designer in the great State of Texas, mother to a volleyball loving, soccer playing, country dancing teenager, and she dabbles in wire wrapping jewelry in her spare time.  She’s got a thing for giving old stuff new life!  Follow her on IG at aprilchiree83 for more design, upcycling, and DIYs.