Cottage Design Home Decor

Decorating with Architectural Elements

September 20, 2016

I love scouring flea markets and antique stores for architectural elements to include in my home decor. Using these vintage pieces adds visual interest and is a way to incorporate an antique vibe into your home without breaking the bank.

One of my favorite ways to add vintage architecture to your home is to look for old windows.  Antique windows come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and they add visual interest to an otherwise boring wall, look great over a fireplace, make great “frames” for photos and I’ve even seen some made into chalkboards.

This is one of my all-time favorite vintage window frames used to decorate the space behind the sofa.  It has a very beachy vibe and a light and airy look. The glass panes were removed:

Here is another great example – an old window remade into a cabinet. I love the way this fits seamlessly into the decor:


Finding two of the same windows is very unusual, not to mention very lucky.  I love the way these windows are displayed here and the way the light plays off the glass panes:

And of course I love the window I found almost fifteen years ago-  for a song –  that I have displayed over my fireplace:


Another great way to decorate with architectural embellishments is with antique pediments.  Doorways used to be framed with gorgeous, ornate pediments and they have become a rare commodity in the antique marketplace.

Here is a pediment used in a nursery.  The blue paint fits in perfectly with her blue antique cast iron cribs! The entire look is so perfect (and not just for a boys room – blue goes with everything!)


And here another is placed over a doorway in a hall.

Another easy way to add architectural interest in your home is to use old mirror frames. Many of the old frames are quite ornate and beautiful – with carvings and details that you won’t find on a more modern frame.  And, of course, you can have the mirror replaced and use it for it’s intended purpose, or be creative and use it like the one below which is fashioned to frame out her thread collection in the sewing room.  It looks amazing!

Still another way of adding vintage architectural items to your home is by using old corbels to make tables or shelves. Corbels were used outside on very decorative buildings and homes  under the eaves of the roof (either for support or decoration), and were also used to hold up awnings over front doors and around windows.

Here are some very large corbels made into an outdoor potting table:

This is my favorite and I want to do this in my bathroom:

Smaller corbels can be used as bookends or can actually be incorporated into your kitchen to add decoration to your kitchen island or cabinets.

If you are concerned about the paint on your antique pieces, you always have the option of stripping them and repainting or staining the pieces.  There are some great products on the market now that will seal off the paint and prevent it from chipping (I have used a few and they really do work)!  If you need the product names, feel free to contact me.

Start your search for these great architectural pieces at your favorite antique stores, flea markets, and barn sales. Ask to look out back where they keep salvaged items and pieces they might be repainting or fixing up for a future sale  – you’ll be amazed at the great things you’ll find right at your back door.


Check out my Pinterest for more great architectural ideas!

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  • Reply NanaDiana November 7, 2014 at 11:57 pm

    Those are ALL just wonderful old pieces used beautifully, Gay. I LOVE that huge round window! xo Diana

  • Reply GayVanBeek November 8, 2014 at 2:24 am

    Thank you so much Diana! Have a super weekend!

  • Reply Junkchiccottage November 8, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    Love all of these old pieces reloved in to new things. I use a lot of old architectural pieces throughout my home. I love to relove an old piece with history into something new. Great post.

  • Reply Lal July 21, 2016 at 10:16 am

    thank you Guy for your creative use of old stuff > me too liked the Corbels Holding up the towels !
    Lal from Sunny Sri Lanka

  • Reply Kris @ Junk Chic Cottage September 21, 2016 at 1:33 pm

    Hi Gay,
    This is a post after my own heart. I love the vintage architectural salvage pieces throughout my home too. Just brings such character to the decor. I have a very similar window to yours over your fireplace. Love my window too. Have a great rest of the week.

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