Retrophiliac – noun. Someone who has a strong liking for things from the past.
You know that strange sensation you get when you feel like you’ve lived another life in a past era? I get feeling that a lot. My whole life I’ve always been drawn to nostalgic time periods. I feel immediate connections whenever I come across an old photograph, a classical painting or when I lose myself in a story from a period movie or TV series (ahem, Downtown Abbey). When I walk by century homes or an Art Deco skyscraper or watch a movie in an old Edwardian theatre, I stop and take in every architectural detail and I feel like I was there during that exact time period. It’s a mysterious, nostalgic and yet familiar sensation.
That feeling of being pulled into a past I felt I belonged in is what drew me to antique furniture, vintage fashion, designs from heritage homes and buildings, and essentially, interior decor. I get completely lost in time whenever I step into an antique store and browse through forgotten trinkets, musty books or run my finger on a faded dress that was once brightly worn decades ago by someone in love. Antique stores are a place where forgotten stories reside and I want to hear each and every one of them.
This post is dedicated to my collection of pieces reminiscent of the past, to those forgotten trinkets that carry untold stories. Some of these vintage items have been picked for me or passed on to me, which makes them more special because it means my close friends and family truly understand me. The rest are treasures I giddily found in dusty piles of cluttered gems.
1. Jewelry Box
Although this jewelry box was found and painted by a talented acquaintance of mine, this is an authentically vintage piece that I spotted in her furbished furniture store a few years ago. I can’t help feeling a sense of wistful charm whenever I open the little wooden drawers to take out a necklace or a pair of earrings. Just the sound of the wooden drawers closing warms my heart with nostalgia. The tapestry on the front, which is the highlight I fell in love with, is what makes this jewelry box so unique and gives it an Old World character to it.
2. Handheld Mirror
The antique store where I found this mirror is sadly long gone and I really wish it was still operating so I can go back and plunge into more treasure hunts like I did when I sporadically found this jewel. For just $10, I came home with this stunning 18th century inspired handheld mirror. The brass handle, the mint green background and the portrait of freshly powdered nobility makes me feel like a Prussian duchess whenever I hold it up to my reflection.
The credit for this awesome find goes to my good friend who spotted this at an antique market and picked it up for me. This radio is placed on our bookshelf near the contrast of our 50″ flat screen TV, and it’s always something people notice and compliment when they come over. I’m not too sure what year this radio is from but I’m guessing it’s from the 1940s-1950s. What I’d give to know what breaking news and music performances were heard live on this radio.
4. Framed Postcard
I got stuck in a torrential downpour one evening walking home and sought refuge in the nearest store I could find. My lucky stars brought me in a stuffy and crammed antique store. The store was about 200 square feet and probably had a million things in it. It was the perfect place for me to kill time as the storm passed. Of all the million things my eyes wandered upon, this framed postcard caught my attention the most. The drawing reminded me of an illustrated scene from a Jane Austen novel that’s been preciously preserved underneath its rounded glass.
Every single person that has come over and eaten off these plates have exclaimed, “Wow, my grandma had plates like these!” Accurately enough, that’s precisely where they came from. These plates were passed on to us from my boyfriend’s Grandmother as a budget-relief to get us started when we both moved out from home and moved in together. It was meant to be a temporary set of plates until we got settled in, but I actually love them and want to keep them indefinitely. They are retro, bright and cozy, and have a sweet sentimental value to them.
6. Antique Chairs
If you’ve browsed through my blog, you’ll know by now that I have a passionate hobby to refurbish antique furniture. These five dollar flea market chairs and cottage chairs found on the curb are my most prized antique possessions and my proudest work.
7. Perfume Bottle
Reminiscent of the coquette beauty department in Mr. Selfridge, this perfume bottle I recently picked up from Belle Epoque is the perfect touch of femininity to add to my vanity perfume tray. I think this may be a replica, but it’s so accurately made that the faded label makes it feel like luxurious rose perfume oil was dabbed on soft wrists and decolletage before a night out at the ballet.
8. Glass Cup
Sweet lemonade in the 70s is what came to mind when I spotted this glass cup at Mrs. Huizenga’s famous antique store. It’s adorable, colourful and makes drinking water a little extra fun. It also goes well with the plates!
9. Lipstick Case
This vintage lipstick case with a vibrant red rose was my first Etsy purchase. There’s a mirror on the inside to make lipstick application with ease and it’s so compact it can fit in the most delicate of satin clutches. It’s such a unique piece that I don’t actually use it as an actual lipstick holder because I’d much prefer having it sit beautifully next to my perfumes on my vanity.
10. Pocket Mirror
As a kid, I used to love playing with this grown-up mirror whenever my Mom got dressed up for an event. She laid this out on the bed next to her purse as she put on her makeup, and I dreamed of the day this mirror would be mine when I grew up to be a lady like my Mom. This gorgeous Victorian-inspired pocket mirror was a souvenir my dear aunt brought back from her travels to Italy in the 1970s. She gifted this mirror to my Mom before her wedding. This mirror represents a lot to me: elegance, family bond and the independent freedom of traveling, which is something my Mom always encouraged for me. The day finally came when my Mom gave me the mirror (okay, she let me have it) and I’m happy to say I carried on the family tradition by picking up my own pocket mirror from my travels to Paris.
What are some of your favourite vintage finds? What items do you normally look for when you visit an antique store? What eras do you feel drawn to?