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Add Euro cosiness and chic, lived-in style to any space.

| By Rachael Thompson | Journal

An Interior Designer’s Guide to Bringing Old-World Charm Into Your Home

Add Euro cosiness and chic, lived-in style to any space.

As much as we love minimalist homes with clean lines, we can't help but be drawn to the uniqueness of cosy, vintage/antique-looking spaces. And if social media has told us anything, it's that over the past few years, people have been moving away from cookie-cutter spaces, and towards richly layered and warm homes with old-world feel.

This movement in interior design suggests a yearning for comfort, beauty, and timelessness. We are drawn to creating this type of home because of the sense of nostalgia it can evoke and the individuality it allows us to embrace. However, achieving this, especially in a modern home, can be overwhelming and things can quickly look chaotic.

To get expert styling advice on how to curate a space that's cosy yet elevated and boasts old-world charm, we turned to interior designer Julia Arceri of Arceri Interiors. Julia specialises in creating spaces that blend European, contemporary, traditional, and organic design. In doing so, the spaces are unique, richly layered, and warm, featuring an elevated yet lived-in style.

Whether you’re looking to add a historic charm or a bit of old-world Euro flair to your home or rental, we’ve rounded up nine ideas to help you achieve it.

1. Find the right balance between old and new

When trying to achieve an elevated vintage aesthetic with old-world charm, it’s easy to make your interior look outdated or too eclectic. Whether your home design is modern or vintage it’s all about maintaining a cohesive look throughout.

“It’s all about balance," explains Julia. "I’ve seen when I’ve included too many vintage pieces the room starts to feel “older” than I’d like, and I scale back and remove an item or two and replace it with something more modern. Sometimes you gotta take a step back and analyse things and reconfigure. I tend to mix in something modern like a sculptural piece of furniture or object… or crisp, beautiful textiles like pleated curtains that look new and fresh. It’s all about the mix for me.”

2. Mix high and low pieces

While this aesthetic looks pricey, it doesn’t need to be. You can approach combining high-end and budget-friendly pieces in a way that feels cohesive and intentional.

“I definitely combine a lot of both in my home. I splurge on the items that will be used the most and statement pieces that are the focal point of the room (light fixtures, my gold mirrors) and go budget on almost everything else such as small decor and accent pieces. I’ve found some amazing rugs at great price points too!”

3. Add plenty of texture and earthy tones

When creating a cosy and welcoming atmosphere Julia likes adding plenty of texture and earthy tones. This brings richness and interest to a space. “I personally adore an earthy palette- browns, olive greens, blacks. I can’t help but be drawn to them! As for texture, I love to mix it up! I love jute rugs, velvets, and boucle… give me all the textures!!”

4. Make it personal

Adding old-world charm to a space can create a timeless and inviting atmosphere, and personalisation is key in making a space feel lived-in. Julia offers unique, rental-friendly ways to incorporate personal touches and sentimental items into the design without cluttering the space.

"I would choose a few key pieces that are important to you and include them throughout your home. A chair passed down from your parents included in your living room, or some art your friend painted for you hung in the hallway. If you need to display a lot, I would style some shelves with your items included, or a glass cabinet.

“I’ve seen lots of people use command strips to add picture moulding to their walls – that instantly adds character. And of course, paint!! Curtains, rugs, and cosy textures in cushions and throws will always instantly warm up a space. Adding art and objects you love adds personalisation!”

5. Choose complementary art

Select and place art that complements the warmth and character of an old-world-inspired interior. This could mean beautiful tapestries, thrifted oil paintings, or sculptures.

“I usually visualise what kind of art piece I picture in that space beforehand, and then go searching for something like it. I especially love vintage portraits and floral art.”

Julia says you can go DIY and aim for picture-frame moulding can enhance the lived-in vintage vibe without requiring advanced skills or a significant time investment. “It will literally change everything and make your space feel like it has so much more character! There are so many tutorials online too and it doesn’t require much equipment.”

6. Get the lighting right

Lighting can be your best friend for creating a warm, inviting ambience. I loveee lamps and sconces! If you can get an electrician to install sconces, do it. I try to put a lamp or sconce to light up every corner of at least my main living space. They add so much ambience to a room… I never use the “big light” when it gets dark, the warm ambient lights give me the mood I want in the room evenings.”

7. Add patterns

Incorporating various patterns into your home will add depth and interest, but it can get overwhelming. “I do love pattern but it is definitely easy to go overboard. If I have an item that has a lot of patterns, I choose other items that have something else to give – like big texture. Or if mixing two patterns, I make sure they pull from the same colour family. And again, I step back and analyse and if doesn’t sit right, I change it.”

8. Focus on small, impactful details

Creating an elevated, lived-in vintage look requires a keen eye for detail, and making some small, impactful details can make a big difference in achieving this style. “Mirrors and art will automatically change the entire vibe of a room. A vintage art piece can change everything. Objects like candle stick holders, a vintage lamp etc. can make such an impact also."

9. Strike a balance between comfort and style

In terms of furniture, you need to strike the right balance between comfort and style. “I LOVE a comfy couch! It is the key to a cosy living space. I would go for comfort first for a couch, but still ensure it’s beautiful. For chairs, I’d focus on style first, then comfort. A lot of my sitting furniture leans more modern. My tables, consoles, accessories, light fixtures etc. are where I tend to go more vintage.”

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