Using Vintage Advertising in Home Decor: Making Art from Old-Fashioned Images

With a number of copyright-free images and CD-ROM editions of vintage art readily available, there are myriad choices for decorators seeking something fresh in old-fashioned industry of color advertising. Laundry soap, baking soda, and even coffee are just a few of the products with industry artwork now free for public use.

Incorporate the images on a small scale or in larger pieces showing off the bold colors and whimsical designs. From kitchen tins to living room wall art, vintage images add more than a splash of color, since a few simple craft tips can contribute their original charm to ordinary objects.

Small Kitchen Decor

Miniature vintage ads decorate kitchen items with purpose and pleasing designs. A simple postcard-size (or smaller) image can be used a label. Apply with glue to the inside of a glass jar and display pasta, beans, or other dried goods inside. Affix other labels to the outside of undecorated kitchen tins or decoupage to wooden surfaces for a collage of colorful ads.

Ads like “Full” Florida orange juice, “Morning Judge” breakfast fruit, or favorite brands like “Sunkist” offer bold colors and unique characters. Fruit crate labels and vegetable seed packets are also good choices.

Living Room Art

Poster-sized prints work well on empty living room or den wall space. Copyright-free images can be adapted and reprinted for personal use at local print services. Small prints can be framed in clusters over sofas and side tables, or decoupaged directly onto table tops in a mixed-media collage.

In addition to advertisements featuring travel, fashion, and historic home life, theatrical prints like opera bills and sheet music covers are also available in copyright-free art editions. A sheet music collage suspended above a piano or an original poster-sized print from “La Boheme” add a touch of opera house magic to home decor.

Bedroom and Bathroom Decor

Postcard-sized prints add old-fashioned charm clustered around a dressing table mirror like the “calling cards” and invitations of old. With vintage fashion magazine covers available in public domain art, elegant illustrations from the 1800’s and Victorian period can grace wall space along with contemporary prints.

Laundry soap prints and vintage ads for shaving cream and other toiletries can be framed for bathroom decor (use inexpensive prints due to steam and water damage). Affix them as labels to jars and tins for storing items like cotton balls, Q-tips, and makeup supplies to clear clutter from sinks and shelves while showing off unique vintage artwork.

Preserve the colorful ads and unique slogans of advertising’s past by sprucing up ordinary spaces and items with their one-of-a-kind appeal.

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