Tips for Including Vintage Elements in Design

The truth is that the vintage aesthetic will never really die out, even in web design. Such strategies become even more important when your business or blog has an antique-like feel associated with it. While this is certainly a popular scheme, it isn’t always easy to figure out or to execute.

If this is a route that you are considering, consider yourself lucky. This particular article will deal with all the different ways that you can trap and utilize the essence of vintage in your web design. Here is what you need to know.

Vintage vs. Retro: Know Your Terms

Before you do anything else, you need to ensure that you know exactly what you are referring to when you use the term ‘vintage’. See, most people will use the words ‘retro’ and ‘vintage’ interchangeably but they don’t actually mean the same things. Thus, one of the first things that you need to get straight is regarding what style you want to adopt.

Vintage refers to images, ideas, fonts, colors, and styles from a bygone era. Most people refer to items that are twenty years or older as being vintage. Then, you have retro. Now, while retro does deal with the past as well, it does so in a different way.

Understand, retro is more of a modern imagining of what old designs looked like. Therefore, a retro design will be a modern version of something that is vintage. It isn’t always completely true to the styles of an older generation.

Vintage Styles

If your idea of vintage is flapper girls and old cars, then you need to modify your thinking a little. See, while it is often seen as a generalized term, this isn’t the case. There are actually various styles of vintage, depending on the era that you are referring to.

Thus, to really capture the essence of this design, you need to first identify the type of design you are considering. Here are some of the most common:

  • Aesthetic Movement (1860 – 1890): it is easy to see that the main component of this style type is delicacy. So, you can choose to use it sparingly to only add a touch of vintage to your web design. Or, you can group it together for a more evident feel.
  • Art Deco (1920 – 1930): obvious adornment and geometric shapes are the most notable aspects of this popular style. Fortunately, while it does evoke a very specific era, it is also quite adaptable. Therefore, you should be able to use it with any type of web design.
  • Art Nouveau (1890 – 1910): here, the main themes are nature and naturally occurring elements. So, if your website has anything to do with food, organic, or holistic, this will be a good style to consider.
  • Arts and Crafts (1870 – 1920): there is a certain rustic and simplistic element to this style. As such, it will work well if you want something that looks vintage without appearing overdone or heavy-handed.
  • Baroque Revival (1840 – 1890): the most notable feature of a Baroque design is the alternating use of thin and thick lines. This is quite a popular design which allows it to be used for a variety of purposes. Therefore, it works well for home design, cooking, and more.
  • Neoclassical (1790 – 1830): this is a more recognizable style as it relies on a lot of Roman and Greek elements. If your website wants to evoke a classical or historical feel, then this design will certainly pull it together.
  • Penmanship (1700 – 1900): in the nineteenth century, handwriting was especially important. This significance was extended as borders and simple images were created with pen strokes. More often than not, this style has a romantic feel to it, making it excellent for sites that related to writing, cards, or similar text-based services.
  • Renaissance Revival (1890): due to the architectural and allegorical elements of this design style, they are often best used for websites that have an academic feel to them. At the same time, it can work well with those that are more celebratory as this style has a great deal of flair attached to it.

Pick a Theme – Keep It Cohesive

It is important to remember that the main purpose of using vintage designs is to create a certain nostalgia. This is why you need to avoid too much mixing and matching of styles, especially if they belong to different time periods. The easiest way to avoid confusion is to pick just one theme.

Of course, there is no need to strictly adhere to the limits set by that particular design. Nevertheless, focus on the main elements that rule the style. Use these when incorporating vintage styles into your design and the end result is sure to feel more authentic.

Another thing you should do is to make sure the website, as a whole, works on the same style. This means that visitors should be able to move from one page to the next and appreciate that you have stuck to one time period or style. Otherwise, the end result will look too chaotic and may end up being off-putting as well.

Be Authentic – Do Your Research

It is easy enough to imagine that most people who come to your website will not be history or design buffs. Therefore, you may feel as though it is alright to recreate the vintage look as you feel fit. Well, while this may work with retro, vintage design isn’t quite as forgiving.

This is why one of the first things you need to do is to research. You need to have some idea of what the people or artwork looked like in a certain time period. Not only will this make your website look more professional but it will also make it appear more organized.

Fortunately, this should be easy enough thanks to the internet. However, keep in mind that if you want the finished result to look authentic, then your sources need to be reliable as well. Therefore, stick with books, magazines, or sites that you can trust for relevant information.

Start with a Suitable Background

Perhaps the most important part of your vintage web design is the background. So, make sure that you select the right one for the job. Now, if you want to keep the overall look of the site – or just the background – relatively simple, it is enough to simply pick out a vintage color scheme.

If you do want to opt for something more daring, there are plenty of options to choose from. Some of the popular designs involve newspapers, parchment, and posters. After all, these offer the perfect backdrop for other vintage ideas and components.

Vintage Color Schemes

The next thing that you will need to figure out is the color scheme. The easiest theme to choose is black and white since it is hard to go wrong with them. However, few people want their site to look monochromatic, especially if it doesn’t suit the feel of the pages.

In this instance, it is all about selecting flat or muted tones. Keep in mind, photography and paints weren’t quite as advanced as they are today. Therefore, posters and photos had a slightly washed out look to them. Due to this, avoid using shades that are overly bright or stand out too much.

Antique Images, Graphics, and Pictures

It can be argued that one of the most important vintage elements to add to your web design is images. After all, these are often what will stand out the most when people visit the site. Therefore, you need to make certain that they are accurate and look good.

One of the best ways to make a site feel truly vintage is to use real pictures. You can gather them from the internet or use those that are already in your family. If any of these are damaged or don’t look up to scratch, this isn’t a problem. There are online services at that can fix a number of blemishes for you.

If you want a modern twist to your pictures or images, you may want to take modern photos and add a vintage feel to them. You can do this by having antique aspects to a modern looking picture. Or, you can take a photograph and tweak it with editing software to create the look that you want.

Vintage Fonts

The final piece of the puzzle is the font. While most people can’t tell the difference between styles and time eras, they are a lot more astute about fonts. This is why it is a good idea to make sure the font represents the appropriate period as well as the sensation that you are trying to evoke.

One thing to remember when selecting the font, though, is coherence. Your main goal is to ensure that your visitors can read all the text on the site. Therefore, you should forego style for an easy-to-read text, if it comes down to it.

With a little bit of knowledge and work, you will have no problem in creating a truly stunning vintage web design. You can use all the tips and tricks here to create a website that will transport your visitors back in time.