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Antique versus Vintage: What’s the Difference?

Updated: Apr 9

When you have the good fortune of living near an antique mall, unique home décor, collectibles, and vintage goods are never far away. Antiques, upcycles, well-loved farmhouse décor, and many more styles have been gathered to create a marketplace experience like no other. You can rely on an ever-changing inventory and plenty of friendly experts to talk you through the selection.

Before browsing the booths and showcases of your local antique mall, it is a good idea to brush up on the types of items commonly discovered. For example, how do you know the difference between antique versus vintage items, and how much are they worth? The welcoming experience of walking through the antique mall marketplace is priceless but keep your eyes open for trendy vintage finds and must-have antique treasures.

A shopper walks through America's Antique Mall

What is Considered Antique?

Everyday objects that are more than 100 years old are considered antiques. Antiques include furniture, art, jewelry, rugs, and other housewares and accessories. The identification of antiques goes along with the dictionary definition - antiques are “existing since or belonging to earlier times.”

On-Trend Antique Collectibles

What is Considered Older than Antique?

If an item is over 300 years old, it can be referred to as antiquity or an artifact. Generally, items of this age are found by archeologists, land developers, or very lucky people cleaning out the attic or basement of an older house. The preservation of these items is important, and maintaining the original integrity of these pieces requires great care.

Examples of Antique Time Periods

  • Art Nouveau (1896-1914)

  • Rococo Revival (1845-1870)

  • Victorian (1830-1901)

  • Chippendale (1755-1790)

How Old is Vintage?

Vintage jewelry and cameos

When it comes to antique versus vintage on the timeline, vintage items are much younger than antiques but still dated before 1999. A definition for vintage is similar yet distinctly different than the definition for antique - vintage is an item that is “dating from the past.” Vintage items have a slightly more modern appeal and can include media items such as vinyl records, cassette tapes, and electronics that are popular with collectors.

Popular Vintage Collectibles

  • Records

  • Jewelry

  • Art deco

  • Mid-century modern

  • Collectible Glass

  • Vintage serving ware

Vintage collectibles can have sentimental value. They often have a special place in our home décor, such as a display of vinyl records next to an old turntable or a wall gallery of vintage signs to accent a living room. Vintage items can often be in our space to provide both function and art.

What is the Appeal of Vintage Items?

Many times, the appeal of vintage goods is nostalgia and fond memories of the past. Vintage just means “of age,” so any item between 20 and 99 years old could be considered vintage. If the item is highly sought after and considered “culturally significant,” it could even be valuable.

Antique versus Vintage – Which is More Valuable?

Antique wash stand used as a coffee cart

Just because a piece is older does not make it more valuable when it comes to antiques versus vintage. A vintage ring in excellent condition could be worth more than a similar ring from an earlier period. Either the vintage or antique ring could pull in a higher price if authenticity can be verified or if you have a record of previous owners.

Decorating with Antique Home Décor

We know you are going to find plenty of must-have antique pieces at the antique mall. How can you work them into your current home décor? Decorating with antiques creates a story within the home, and the past is honored with our choices.

A well-crafted dresser or table can become the statement piece of a living room. Even a modern home can be softened with the perfect antique piece and how it is used in a room. A good rule of thumb when visiting the antique mall – if you fall in love with it, take it home with you! You’ll find a place for it.

5 Ways to Add Antiques to Your Décor

1. Collect antique China, pottery, or plates of the same color or theme and create a display

2. Hang an oil painting with a heavy antique wood frame over a modern couch or chair

3. Use an old tailor’s table or large, antique storage piece as a kitchen island

4. Add antique accents into any room with small tables, accessories, and rugs

5. Use wallpaper that has been reproduced from a popular antique print on an accent wall or in a powder room

Home Décor with Vintage Vibes

Your home is an extension of your personality, and that may run a little more quirky than antique. When it comes to antique versus vintage, vintage may be the nostalgic vibe that fits you better. Antique all have quality vintage items that will fill your home’s charm and character.

The fun and personality of vintage home décor start with not trying to match. Mix pieces from different styles – Bauhaus, mid-century, contemporary – and create a look that is uniquely you. None of the pieces must be new; just choose a piece that you love and style around it.

5 Tips to Style with Vintage Décor

Vintage vanity with mirror

1. Choose statement pieces of high quality

2. Introduce lots of different textiles, patterns, and colors

3. Don’t forget vintage lighting features

4. Upcycle vintage pieces

5. Be inspired by the architecture of the space

Don’t miss out on a great vintage find because of a few scratches or scrapes. If you love it, show it some love, and restore the piece to its vintage glory. Textures and colors might feel overwhelming at first but take it slow and introduce only a couple at a time into your space. You will realize how much you love the look right about the time your favorite antique mall vendors refresh their inventory.

Do You Have to Choose Between Antique versus Vintage?

You absolutely do not have to choose between antique versus vintage. To keep your home from looking like the set of a period film, you can mix styles and create a look that is uniquely yours. Collectible vintage accessories add an on-trend charm that speaks to your personality and interests. With a quick eye during regular trips to the local antique mall, your home will quickly develop into a lively conversation piece and the perfect example of how you don’t need to decide between antique versus vintage.

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