Antiques Architecture Design Home Decor

Decorating with Architectural Elements

November 8, 2017

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 antique pieces without breaking the bank.

One of my favorite ways to add architectural elements is by using 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 a few made into chalkboards.

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

{Source Lisa Teague Studios via Country Living Magazine}

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


{photo love}

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:

{photo love}

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

I also like to layer different shaped windows for texture and interest.

Another great way to decorate with architectural embellishments is with antique pediments.  Doorways of yesteryear were framed with these gorgeous, ornate pediments and they have become a rare commodity in the antique marketplace. This is one of my favorite antique pediments I have in my home. The date on the back traces it back to the 1800s. It was most likely part of a bureau or armoire. The paint is original and it is very heavy.




Here is a another fantastic pediment used to decorate a nursery.  The blue paint fits in perfectly with the blue antique cast iron cribs. The entire look is serene, beautiful, and not just for a boys room – blue goes with everything!


{photo love}

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



 {photo love}

You can add architectural interest in your home by using antique and vintage frames. Many of the old frames are quite ornate and beautiful – with carvings and details that you won’t find on modern frames.  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 a thread collection in the sewing room.  It looks amazing!

{photo love}

Still another way to add architecture interest to your home is by using old corbels to make tables or shelves. Corbels were used outside on very decorative buildings and homes, placed under the eaves of a roof 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:

{photo love}

Another great idea for corbels:

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 have the option of stripping them and repainting or staining the pieces.  There are some great products on the market now that are eco-friendly and so easy to use. One of my favorites is Citrus Strip. This can be purchased through Amazon (click on the pink link) and it also comes in a smaller aerosol size.  The best part about this product is it can be used indoors without a ventilator. Another great product which I use often when I have a piece that is chipping but I want to preserve its natural patina is Peel Stop by Rust-Oleum. This is an amazing product that seals the paint and prevents it from further paint loss. I have used this on many of my antique pieces – including wicker – and it does not yellow over time like most products do.

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.



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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.

  • Reply Donna November 9, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    This is a great post showing just how fantastic vintage architectural pieces can be in a home. I love the pieces over your fireplace.

    • Reply GayVanBeek November 9, 2017 at 2:34 pm

      Thank you so much Donna!!!

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