Tips for Mastering a Vintage Vibe
This summer, try your hand at antiquing to uncover timeless vintage accessories for your home.
If you’ve been working up the courage to add a vintage vibe to your living space, there’s no time like the present. According to Chris Switzer, co-owner of hand-me-down haven Stepback on West Broadway, summer is the perfect chance to get your feet wet—and not just at the beach.
“Outdoor decor is always less formal,” says the storefront owner who runs the Kitsilano boutique with wife Robin Muxlow. “It’s easier to incorporate a few vintage pieces outside as you get started.”
Switzer counts the vintage gene among his own inheritance: he comes from a family of collectors spread throughout the Valley who now help to maintain Stepback’s inventory. He knows that incorporating an old-school flare doesn’t come naturally for everyone, so he shared with us a few of his secrets for mastering vintage cool.
1. Pick pieces with purpose
Whether adding pieces to the front step, back patio or master bedroom, Switzer emphasizes practicality as the key to making vintage work. “Pick things you love, and things that have a purpose,” he says. This functional focus is reflected in Stepback, where old crates and suitcases line the softly lit walls.
“Crates are huge for us right now. They make up probably a quarter of our total sales,” Switzer shares, adding that old trunks and suitcases can perform double duty as coffee tables or ottomans with extra storage space.
2. Reduce, reuse, repurpose
When it comes to recycling old pieces, Switzer recommends repurposing them too. “We see a lot of old containers repurposed as planters; I’ve seen stepladders used as bookcases.” He points out a pile of old sports trophy figurines that one customer recently used as clothing hooks in her young son’s bedroom. “People surprise me every day with their creativity.”
3. Mix new & nostalgic
Stepback brings in a small selection of new products as well, without sacrificing the shop’s retro atmosphere. “We sell new what wouldn’t be quite so useful used: stationary and postcards for instance,” Switzer explains. And they are careful to source new products from brands that align with Stepback’s classic inspiration. “Packaging with a nostalgic feel, old fashioned products, that sort of thing,” Switzer says.
Unlike many shops along West Broadway, Stepback doesn’t cater to a niche demographic, proving the true timelessness of vintage pieces. “We get 13 year old girls redecorating their bedrooms, and 85 year old men perusing for the novelty,” Switzer shares. It seems this store of throwbacks has a strong future in its Kitsilano home.