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Vintage Art Prints – What to Look For and How to Hang Them

Vintage Art Prints

Are you looking for a way to add some personality to your home, but without spending a fortune? Tastefully chosen vintage art prints are a great way to do just that.

Falling between original art and antique art, vintage art prints can really express your personality, whist being easy to frame, beautiful to look at and easy to move around the home when you feel like a change.

Les Trois Beautes de Mnasidika, 1922. Art deco art print by George Barbier.
Les Trois Beautes de Mnasidika, 1922. Art deco art print by George Barbier.

Needless to say, these prints can be found in a wide range of styles and sizes, so there’s sure to be something that fits your taste. Plus, they’re relatively affordable, so you can fill up your walls without breaking the bank. Ready to get started? Here are a few tips for finding the perfect vintage art print for your home.

What are vintage art prints and where to find them

The word vintage isn’t an industry term with a specific meaning, but we can agree that it generally means something that’s at least two decades old, but newer than antique, so probably not much older than 120 years old. 

So, within that range at the time of writing, we’re in the time zone between about 1880 and 2000. Roughly!

Within this time period fall millions of photos and artworks that express something about the time and place they were created.

Vintage means now, then

One defining factor is that vintage imagery usually depicts what was cutting-edge at the time of production, instead of what was nostalgic, historical, backward-looking or “traditional” at that time. It’s that avant-garde up-to-the-minute feeling that gives vintage an excitement and energy that still shines through today. Vintage really means what was new and contemporary and exciting then.

Because these images are available as art prints, they can be rendered in very high resolution on good quality paper. Combine the print with a high-quality frame and (most importantly) high quality glass, and you have a piece of wall art that will be a conversation starter and a real asset to your interior.

Vintage art prints are becoming increasingly popular among collectors and interior decorators, adding a touch of nostalgia to any home. They are reproductions of old artwork such as paintings, photographs or etchings, printed onto paper or canvas.


Although vintage prints can depict any subject, particularly popular subjects include advertisements (especially film and fashion ads), cars, sports, music, celebrities, and often street photography.

Vintage can mean rural but just as often means urban. Vintage lovers often use place as their subject of choice, seeking out photos, prints or advertisements that are related to the town, city or country they live in. Sometimes even old street signs can be found! 

The other side of the local vintage coin is travel. Posters and advertisements depicting travel to exotic locations for holidays is a forever popular subject for vintage prints. Think: where was your best holiday ever? There’s bound to a classic print showing that country or city available. 

Erotic art
Erotic art is timelessly popular

Types of print

Vintage art prints can be images that are in the public domain – these are images that are out-of-copyright either because they are old enough or because they have been donated to the public domain by the copyright holder. 

They can also be of copyrighted artworks which the printer has a licence to reproduce for you. It’s always worth checking that your print is sufficiently licenced for reproduction. Never take images from the Internet and send them to the printers without first establishing whether you have a right to do so.

Where to find

Today, these pieces can be found for sale at local vintage and antique markets or online second-hand shops and stores. High-end galleries also now have a huge range of vintage-style prints and host online auctions for rare pieces, with prices ranging from hundreds to thousands of pounds depending on their condition and demand.

While finding a genuine vintage print may take some time and research, it is often worth the effort as these one-of-a-kind pieces can truly become family heirlooms that endure for generations. Know that when properly cared for, prints can continue to offer beauty and enjoyment for years to come. If you’re looking to add some timeless classiness to your home décor, consider investing in one of these timeless gems! 

How to incorporate vintage art prints into your home décor

Decorating with vintage art prints can be an exciting way to add a unique style to your home.

Choose pieces that complement the look and feel of your home — muted tones for a neutral palette, vibrant colours for a bold statement — and you’ll quickly end up with inspiring artwork that makes your house come alive. It’s also important to think about placement; the right picture in the right spot can drastically change how it looks and feels. Wall-mounted art prints don’t just need to hang on walls – you could use shelves or ledges to create interesting gallery displays or vignettes. The same goes for framed pictures — adding them in unexpected places near windowsills, above doorways, on doors, in unexpected rooms such as the toilet, creates an interesting narrative between pictures and objects.

Large, floor level images also make an impactful statement, so couple prints with vintage furniture and other smaller knickknacks for a balanced display.

No matter how you decide to incorporate vintage art prints into your home décor, each piece is guaranteed to make your space uniquely yours!

Framed vintage photograph hung with collection of vintage and antique plates
Framed vintage photograph hung with collection of vintage and antique plates

Tips for choosing the right vintage art print for your home

Finding the right artwork for your space can feel like a daunting task – especially when it comes to vintage art prints. 

With so many unique styles, designers, and eras to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to start. Before you begin browsing for your perfect print, consider some of these tips that will help guide you along the way. First, choose a style that speaks to you – think about how the color scheme complements your home and the atmosphere it creates.

Know what size frame you need – larger frames are typically more expensive.

It’s always a good idea to do a little bit of research into the artist or designer behind the print – discover their process and philosophy may give insight into why this piece of art should mean something special to you.

For example, the famous botanical artist Ernst Haeckl produced some of the most popular drawings of beautiful natural botanicals and sea-creatures, which still sell like crazy today. But you might not like Haeckl’s social Darwinistic views that were co-opted by the Nazi party.

If buying second-hand, look out for condition and quality issues – make sure there is no fading or water damage in order to guarantee that your vintage art print is something that will look perfect in a contemporary home, and not fade further or begin to look shabby.

With these tips in mind, picking the perfect vintage art print for your home can be an enjoyable journey full of surprises. Enjoy the ride!

How to frame and display your vintage art print

If you have a print that looks like it deserves to be hanging on the wall, then congratulations – you have a great piece of décor in the making.

The first step in displaying it is to choose the perfect frame. Depending on the look you’re going for, this can range from a traditional wooden frame’s timeless elegance to something more modern and playful.

Once you’ve made your choice and had the frame attached, you can move onto hanging your artwork up on the wall.

Make sure there’s enough breathable space around it – don’t be tempted to crowd too many pieces together into one area. When deciding where to place your vintage art print, consider its size relative to furniture in the room, as well as how much natural or artificial light it will be receiving during different times of day.

Sizing and positioning are key elements when displaying artwork properly: play around until you find what works best for yours. And voila! You’re now ready to admire your masterpiece of framed vintage art all year round – enjoy!

Ideas for using vintage art prints in other creative ways

Vintage art prints can be so much more than just a piece of wall decor! With a little bit of creativity, you can repurpose them into unique and stunning home accents.

Try framing your prints as a tabletop centrepiece and tucking in some fresh flowers or potted plants to make an eye-catching display. If you’re feeling crafty, transfer your print onto wood blocks to create one-of-a-kind coasters – or better yet, make a set of fabric napkins featuring the image of your favorite print. You could even cut out individual pieces to fashion punches, decals or custom wrapping paper for special gifts. Vintage art prints are surprisingly versatile – no matter how you choose to use them, there’s sure to be some aesthetic delight in store!

Vintage art prints are a popular way to add character and personality to your home décor. They can be found in a variety of styles and colours, so there is sure to be one that matches your personal taste.

  • When choosing a vintage art print for your home, it’s important to consider the style of your space and what you want the print to accomplish. Are you looking for something that will make a bold statement or something more subtle?
  • Framing and displaying your vintage art print is an important part of bringing it together with the rest of your décor. There are many different ways to do this, so take some time to experiment until you find the look that you love.
  • Vintage art prints can also be used in other creative ways. For example, why not use them as part of a themed party or event? Or hang them in a child’s room for added interest and colour?
1960s 1970s Home Vintage Vintage Interiors wallpaper

Vintage Wallpaper 2021

Updated 17/1/2021

Lovers of vintage often find that the addiction to bygone eras is wildly infectious.

What starts off as a collection of 1950’s frocks or a couple of 1970’s suits, soon becomes an entire wardrobe. Before long you’ll find that you want to wear exclusively vintage, your accessories will have to be vintage and you’ll be visiting a specialist hair salon and picking up pin-up style make-up tips from YouTube videos.

Elegant Art Deco paper by Bradbury and Bradbury
Elegant Art Deco paper by Bradbury and Bradbury

Oh so fabulous

The obsession rarely stops there, because wearing vintage feels so delicious and so fabulous. You’ll find yourself drooling over cake stands, teacups and charming milk jugs. Your crockery cupboards will be brimming with vintage-style oddments to match your wardrobe and jewellery collection. This infectious craze will take over the rest of your house.

It makes sense. Not only is it stylish and beautiful to look at but it is so economical and makes fabulous environmental sense. Buying vintage means that you’re reusing, it’s green and can be so very affordable. You can pick up furniture and kitchenware from charity shops and reclaim them with a little paint and some well-chosen fabric until they look unspeakably vintage.

So what started off as you coveting a pretty 1950s dress, has evolved into you collecting a house full of vintage and retro knick-knacks. But, if you really want to make visitors feel like they are stepping back in time, then you’ll have to go one step further. What about vintage wallpaper?

1970s Wallpaper
1970s Wallpaper

Papering over the cracks

Sadly, original vintage wallpaper is almost impossible to get hold of. Even if you could lay your hands on enough to paper a whole room, you may find it is not quite up to standard and may well be ravaged by time. Unless you fancy scouring the country for any unlikely house that hasn’t been redecorated since the 1950s, you are best focussing on reproduction wallpaper for your home.

Kitschen paper

If you are only going to paper one room in your home, then the kitchen is a great choice to start with.

Prior to the 1920s kitchens were unpapered as it was considered wasteful. Kitchens in wealthier homes were only seen by the staff, and poorer people could not afford wallpaper or worried that cooking fumes and steam would damage the paper.

In the 1920s we became a bit obsessed with sanitation and hygiene and it was very popular to paint kitchens white or to tile them with gleaming white tiles. This was to show up any hint of dirt and to portray high levels of cleanliness.

It wasn’t until the 1930s that wallpapering the kitchen became popular. Kitschy imagery was popular. It was supposed to keep the housewife cheery as she prepared the meals and toiled away for hours a day.

Images of domesticity, such as tea pots and kitchen implements, were in. Fruit (especially cherries and strawberries) was commonly seen and quaint cottage scenes or simplistic floral motifs featured strongly.

This trend continued until the 1960s, when more vibrant and psychedelic papers starting appearing, and in the 1970s the trend for tiling and painting the kitchen became more en vogue.

Out of the kitchen

When choosing wallpaper for the rest of the house it helps to know a little about its history.

Wallpaper was once thought of as a cheap alternative to “proper art” and paintings. Being much cheaper, easy to replace and quick to apply; those who couldn’t afford fine artwork would opt for wallpaper to add colour to their homes.

This distinction didn’t last, as those with money soon opted for the most expensive wall coverings; choosing precious metals, unusual designers, imports from overseas and fine fabrics when selecting their wall papers.

During the Second World War, wallpaper was considered a non-essential commodity and so style, ranges and types were limited. The wallpaper industry suffered greatly, as manufacturers were forced to use finer paper types and produce lower quality paper.

After the war, the demand for wallpaper returned and the market thrived. During this era many more exciting designs came out and people eagerly snapped up the new products.

Machine-age colours were particularly popular during this time – so if you fancy something from this era look out for reds, blacks, white and metallic silver designs.

1950s wallpaper
1950s wallpaper

The two main vintage wallpaper designs to indulge in are definitely the sweet homely feel of the 1940s-1950s or the striking geometric abstract designs from the 1960s.

You also need to decide if you want your wallpaper to look like genuine vintage paper or if you want wallpaper that shows vintage items. Both types are readily available, especially online and will really make a difference to a space.

If you are opting for a very busy design, such as a typical 1960’s pattern you may prefer to only paper one wall, and paint the remaining walls in a colour from the design. Busy prints can make a room appear smaller, can make things feel cluttered, unrelaxing, and are difficult to hang pictures on. If you want somewhere to display photographs or pictures, then you’ll definitely want to paint at least one wall in a more muted tone.

1960s wallpaper
1960s wallpaper

Because vintage wallpaper tends to be quite involved and detailed, it’s usually best to pick out the paper before you pick items for the rest of the room. Vintage wallpaper can be a feature in itself, and will only look its best if the rest of the furniture and décor has been chosen to fit with the theme.

If you are desperate for paper that looks like it was actually from the 1940s, rather than reproductions of the original, but cannot find anything from the era then you may like to use brand new paper and treat it to make it look older.

Carefully applied stain can add a softer look to brand new paper, or you could gently sand the surface for a more distressed look.

Personally I think new paper is great, and it will last a lot longer. You can always opt for softer tones to add a slightly sunbleached feel to the wall coverings. Now is the time to start going vintage with your wallpaper. Shabby chic furniture styles are all the rage, and the next step is definitely some beautiful vintage wall paper.

Where to find new vintage wallpaper

Little Greene

Little Greene are well-known for their paints but they also have a terrific range of wallpapers. From geometric patterns in traditional-looking hues, to patterns featuring plants and animals plus sea themes, Little Greene have put together a stupendous collection of papers that will complement any home. They also have a partnership with the National Trust.

Graham & Brown

Graham & Brown have curated a beautiful collection of vintage and art deco papers. They come in a wide range of geometric patterns in greens, blues, pearl whites and more. Rose gold is on trend at the moment and Graham & Brown have seized on this trend in some of their papers.

i want wallpaper

These folks only do wallpaper (as their name suggests) but they have a particularly strong collection of vintage, retro and trad wallpaper designs. As well as the commonly-seen washed-out greens and blues of the 50s and 60s they have quirky animal prints and many other designs that will make you smile!

Wallpaper from the 70s

If it’s the 1970s that turn you on, then Wallpaper from the 70s is the niche wallpaper site for you! They stock many bold and bright patterns in typical 70s colours. Be prepared for a smorgasbord of loud and louche patterns, including many botanicals and florals.