Antique, Vintage or Retro? How to Tell

Sometimes it can be confusing when trying to determine in which era particular design elements originated. Fortunately, antique, vintage and retro items can be distinguished by knowing a few key factors.

Antique Authenticity

As a rule of thumb, anything more than 100 years in age is considered an antique. These items are usually heirlooms and have a historical quality to them. Antique pieces are great for adding character to a simple room. They bring richness and depth to a space – especially when mixed with other styles – that is often difficult to find in modern design. An original period painting or an authentic Tiffany Lamp would be considered an antique – think “Antiques Roadshow.”

Many homeowners are drawn to the historic charm of antique stoves, in particular. These classic models offer a timeless look and often serve as the focal point of a kitchen. Antique stoves are gaining in popularity not only for the sense of nostalgia they evoke, but also because they work with a variety of aesthetics – from rustic to farmhouse to Victorian or even more contemporary styles. 

While it is possible to find antique stoves that have been restored, many of today’s homeowners are looking for modern functionality and features, and prefer to purchase new “antique style” appliances with designs based on cookstoves from the late 1800s.

Vintage Vibes

“Vintage,” on the other hand, refers to an item that can be attributed a specific era within the last 20 to 100 years. Vintage items are generally easy to spot because they are iconic and represent something exceptional from a certain time period. For example, think about a 1960s model car, 1970s bellbottom pants or a 1950s poodle skirt. In the interior design world, mid-century modern decor is a common example of vintage style.

When it comes to vintage appliances, some homeowners opt to purchase older appliances that have been refurbished. Although these appliances bring a feeling of authenticity to kitchens, they don’t typically have the “bells and whistles” that many consumers desire, especially those who cook often.

Retro Restyle

When compared to antique and vintage, retro is a much broader term. Retro is typically used to describe items that are not original, but rather provide a modern twist on a style from the past. Retro style decorating usually has a fun, energetic feel to it, and incorporates bright colors, dynamic designs, and an overall sense of flair.

Homeowners looking to get a period look without sacrificing function and modern amenities are able to find new kitchen appliances that mimic retro style. These retro appliances are a great way to add character and a cheerful pop of color to a kitchen without overwhelming the space. Their versatile design complements a variety of decor styles, including mid-century ranch, 1950s retro, farmhouse and contemporary kitchens.

The “Original”

Elmira Stove Works has been crafting appliances since 1975, and offers full lines of ranges, refrigerators, range hoods and splash backs, microwaves, and dishwashers. Elmira initially debuted the Fireview woodburning cookstove followed by the Heritage collection of 1890’s-styled appliances, and – in 2001 – expanded to retro / mid-century appliances with the introduction of the Northstar line.

Heritage appliances are available in a variety of classic colors, including Black, White, Bisque, Cayenne Pepper Red and Liberty Blue, as well as custom hues. Northstar appliances feature an inviting collection of classic colors reminiscent of the 1950’s look – including pastels such as Buttercup Yellow and brights like Candy Red – along with more than a thousand custom colors.

So, whether you’re looking for a kitchen with the perfect touch of antique, vintage or retro inspiration, we’ve got you covered!

Add a Timeless Touch With Vintage Holiday Decorating

With the holidays just around the corner, you can certainly get creative and turn your home into your own winter wonderland with a twist – vintage decor! To help you prepare, we’ve compiled a list of ways you can capture the spirit of the holiday throughout your home.

Go Green

Strategically hang evergreen garland to bring a hint of winter inside. Tightly wrap the garland around stair posts, or try draping it on your mantel, doorways and kitchen cabinets to tie in the theme throughout your house. To add some texture and color, place berries or burlap bows in your garland. And, if you use real evergreen, it’ll smell just as festive as it looks.

Poinsettias are another great way to bring the feel of nature into your home. Add a classic accent to these stunning beauties by placing them inside vintage watering cans, old flour sifters or metal buckets. On a similar note, you can spruce up your entryway – or anywhere in the house – with pine boughs in large vintage glass vases or metal watering cans.

Embellish the Exterior

Hang grapevine wreaths in the windows to add some character to the exterior of your house. To add a pop of warmth and vintage decor, thrift/re-use vintage flannels, and DIY them into bows to put on top of the wreaths. You can add some charm to your front porch by placing old ice skates or leaning a childhood sled next to the front door.

Rocking Around the Christmas Tree

To spruce up your Christmas tree and make it shine, add antique, vintage or favorite childhood ornaments. Popular 1950s glass reflector ornaments will add some extra oomph to your tree, reflecting light to create some sparkle. If you want to go the extra mile, try adding classic wooden beaded garland around your tree. You can also get the kids involved by setting up a battery-operated classic train set around the tree – creating your own mini locomotive blast from the past. After all, if there’s anyone who loves decorating for the holiday season more than you, it’s your kids.

Go Jolly With Decorations

Nothing says “Christmas Classic” like a nutcracker soldier (or several) placed on the mantel or on a bookshelf. For a fun family activity, you can get crafty and make your own DIY evergreen candle holders. These decorative candle glasses can be used from year to year and then passed down. Additionally, try using vanilla, cookie batter, cinnamon spice or evergreen scented candles to create an all-encompassing holiday aroma and atmosphere.

Set the Mood

If you’re sticking with the vintage theme, pull out the old Christmas records or CD’s to get the jingle jams going. If you don’t have a record player/old records or CD’s, add some holiday season classics to a playlist and enjoy the tunes in the background why you decorate, cook or relax in front of the fireplace with a cup of eggnog.

Make the Kitchen Festive

Dazzle your kitchen with a pop of “WOW” by adding festive vintage or farmhouse style appliances from the Northstar or Elmira lines. The focal point of the holiday season revolves around baked goods and delectable dinners. So what better way to add some conviviality to your kitchen than by adding a holly jolly new range in Quicksilver, Candy Red, Cayenne Pepper Red or Mint Green – or in one of more than a thousand custom colors. Turn the heat up even further with the rustic Fireview woodburning cookstove.

Lastly, don’t forget the holiday cookies and other sweet treats. Bake classics like gingerbread men, frosted sugar cookies, peppermint bark and fudge and set them on a vintage ornamental platter.

While this year is different from holidays past, we know it’s the little things that matter most. We wish you and your loved ones a safe and gratitude-filled holiday… and hope for a better year ahead!

Bell Bottoms, Broncos & the Brady Bunch – a nostalgic trip into the past

No matter how tech-driven world our world becomes, our love for all things nostalgic continues to grow… and in a big way.

This is even more true now during the pandemic when most of us are unsure just exactly how that future will shape up. Feeling less anchored than usual, people are seeking a sense of comfort and a connection with simpler times. And, while we could choose any number of decades that bring back “the good old days,” we’re thought we’d take a moment to explore the 70s. In fact, one of the most popular trends at the moment is a return to the iconic looks of the 1970s. Bell-bottoms are making a(nother) comeback along with far out floral prints that evoke “flower power” and the Disco Decade.

Just take #TBT or “Throwback Thursday,” which has been one of the most widely used hashtags on social media since its creation in 2011. Typically used to share happy memories from the past, it serves as a great way for people to reminisce with their friends and family. We find comfort in being able to look back to bygone eras to draw inspiration and look for ideas that will help us to enjoy a better future.  

In mid-July, Ford Motor Company re-released its legendary Bronco, which will be available as early as June 2021 to the 3,500 consumers who were lucky enough to reserve the first vehicles off the assembly line. As Ford looks to further meet the growing demand for stylish, workhorse SUVs, the brand has equipped this throwback with the most advanced smart technology. Car enthusiasts can hardly wait to get their hands on the thoroughly updated version of a what has become a cult classic.

Image: S Alan
Image: OFL

Our blast from the past doesn’t end with cars and clothes. One cannot talk about the 70s without thinking about the television family that was synonymous with the era – The Brady Bunch. Thanks to HGTV, we got to see late last year how the fictional Brady home has fared over the years with a front row seat at the much anticipated Brady Bunch House Makeover

A spin-off show featuring “Jan Brady” (actress Eve Plumb) aired at the end of last year. Staying true to the decor of the period, the home featured a Northstar retro fridge and range in Buttercup Yellow – it was definitely like taking a step back in time. We think Marsha would be yellow with envy… “Jan, Jan, Jan!”.

But you don’t have to be a fan of the 70s to love colorful retro appliances. Our Northstar line brings vintage style, the perfect pop of color and a welcome touch of nostalgia to any kitchen. Buttercup Yellow not your thing? No worries at all – choose from seven other standard colors or opt for more than 1,200 custom colors.

Eve Plumb (“Jan Brady” of The Brady Bunch) standing next to her Northstar appliances

Pretty groovy, if we do say so ourselves!