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Vision of Vintage

Just like 80s haircuts and 90s jeans, vintage has had its own resurgence inside the home. The results are out, and nostalgia is in, with SMEG appliances, aged furniture and farmer’s sinks appearing in more and more new builds and renovations. In this homage to all things old school, Penny Robinson sits down with Better Bathrooms & Kitchens’ design specialist, Darcy Zerafa, to discuss the rise of vintage as an aesthetic choice, expert advice for incorporating retro chic into your home, and the environmental and economic aspects of this reigning trend.

Vision of Vintage

Not too long ago, ultra-sleek stainless steel, razor-sharp joinery, dark timber and neutral colour palettes commanded every design showroom across Australia. Now, dear reader, there is an equally powerful chief in town: vintage everything. Here, we throw out the new and bring in the old, with the help of Better Bathrooms & Kitchens’ Design Specialist.



When about it comes to the influence of vintage design in contemporary homes, Darcy Zerafa is a resident expert. With a career built around his passion for creating innovative and functional spaces, Zerafa has been creating dream homes and inspiring designs since he first started at Better Bathrooms & Kitchens as a technical draftsman. And although trends are by their very nature transient, Zerafa believes that vintage is a design choice that’s here to stay.

“It is on trend to want something that stands out from the rest. The rarity and boldness of vintage appliances combined with the fresh feel of the modern-day style can create such a unique and eccentric elegance within a room,” Zerafa explains. Retro chic is currently all the rage in Melbourne and Australia more broadly, and features like butler’s pantries, breakfast nooks, open built-in shelving for glassware and China, decorative corbels, built in plate racks, pastel colours, vintage tiles, and farmhouse sinks are frequently at the centre of new builds and renovations alike.

Not only do these old school additions offer a beautiful design aesthetic but they often add value to a home. “The benefit of incorporating the vintage style is that it combines tradition with originality. The beautiful and eccentric modern-day style enhances the old-fashioned, elegant look that defines a generational period.

Vision of Vintage

It creates a fresh, bold, but also quite traditional aesthetic to any space,” says Zerafa. “Currently these older trends are being incorporated into modern-day kitchens with features such as wide plank wood flooring, both naturally and artificially distressed furniture, and a pastel colour palette.”



With mass production and global warming currently front and centre of everything from government policy to the lifestyle choices of each individual, people are shifting to sustainable options for modern living wherever possible; whether that’s switching to a reusable cup for your morning coffee, investing in ethical fashion brands, or repurposing old timber for your kitchen redesign. Zerafa explains that incorporating vintage elements to your home is not only good for the planet but provides modish character to a room, “Put simply, the benefit of recycling old materials is that it can give a room a personality. Antique or vintage elements allow a space to be unique, giving it a signature look,” he says.

However, as Zerafa notes, accessibility and affordability are as much of a challenge for home designers as fashion brands. “One of the biggest challenges when it comes to using restored materials is the price. Whilst it may have many environmental advantages, recycling does typically include an upfront cost that may not always be the most cost effective.” Vintage items can be sourced from garage and estate sales but using the internet to compare prices of products and materials can help consumers and designers alike. While thrifting, Zarafa suggests asking yourself these questions: What am I trying to create? Do I want a signature look with antique elements? Will this item set my space apart from other designs?



Vision of Vintage


If you’re not in the market for a complete redesign, there are many small upcycling tricks that can help to revitalise a space and are just as good for the planet as they are for your purse strings. For the kitchen, Zerafa’s advice is simple: have a colour palette in mind, contact a designer to help you select the right colour for the room, and always take off the cabinet doors before you paint. Replacing the splashback and adding new stylish handles on existing cabinets can also increase that fresh and funky feel.

Appliances like SMEG also offer a retro feel with ultra-modern functionality and are an easy way to add vintage vibes to any kitchen. “These statement pieces provide a sense of uniqueness to kitchens, and when paired with other vintage items such as shaker doors, wooden shelving, and classic splashback tiles, it allows a kitchen to be functional and stylish.”

If you’re contemplating reinvigorated your bathroom with a new vintage look, give the walls a fresh coat of a pastel shade of paint or retile the floor with a zany 70s pattern. A kitschy vintage aesthetic can also be achieved with floral wallpaper. To gain an immediate vintage feel, swap out your modern tapware for retro-style fixtures or invest in a freestanding claw-foot bath.

A vintage-inspired modern home provides as much functionality as unique character to a home. While it is common for kitchen design trends to come and go and come back again, Zerafa says that “it is when these trends come back into fashion that we see the new generation adding their own creative flares to modernise the traditional feel of such trends.” Take it from an expert: there’s no need to forego the luxuries of modern life to create a timeless home.


Images courtesy of Better Bathrooms & Kitchens