What the Heck is Wrong With Nana Style Decorating?!

what is wrong with nana style? how to incoporate vintage into your home

Judging other people about the way they look, or dress or decorate their home, is not ok. Social media has offered bullies and critics a vast playground in which to share their unwelcome and ridiculous comments about other people’s life choices. The only judgement we should make in life, is on people who deliberately hurt, injure or damage another human being, animal, or our planet. If you want to live in a tree with the birds, a box by the sea, or a mansion in the city, it is really up to you. I do think we have a social responsibility in the way we live. We should be making choices that are sustainable, considerate of our environment, each other, and future generations, but whether you choose to have a wonky bookcase filled with stuff, or a minimal home – that is totally your choice. And as a vintage person and lover of the old, I would love to know what the heck is wrong with Nana Style Decorating?!

When I started Recycled Interiors in 2013, I was very passionate about decorating in your own style – and I still am. It infuriates me when I hear people saying “we love mixing old with new but we don’t want to go too Nana Style now do we..”..
Well maybe some of us do.

Maybe some people love the look and feel of their Nana’s house. The memories of growing up in both of my grandmother’s homes are warm and delicious, something that fills me up with happiness, so why would their style be a negative thing? And what is Nanna Style anyway? Is it knitted rugs and flower power chair covers and pastel walls? Maybe it is mid century sofas and 1960’s kitchen cabinets? To me all of that is lovely. I have pieces in my home collected from both of my Grandmothers and my Mother, as well as some other special women, such as aunties.  I also have pieces from garage sales and ebay and gumtree and charity stores.

There is so much flexibility when adding vintage pieces. You might bring something into your home and leave it as is,  like the blue and white kitchen cabinet from my grandma which now sits in our entry hall, or upcycle it with some paint, stencils, or other finishes, to create an entirely new look. This old shelf had sat folorn for years, along with some jugs, a vase and a teapot I never really liked – now they all look amazing thanks to some paint effects. We have recently painted all of our timber floors and refreshed most of the rooms in our home, with our own signature style.

The reason that the “Nana Style” label is used as a put down, is to say it is “old fashioned”, daggy in some way, out of step with the “modern” styles. It is to encourage, (force) you to go out and buy what is “on trend”, as god forbid you would decorate with too much old stuff…and be on the outer.

If you really want to embrace a sustainable way of living in your home, there is no reason for someone else to tell you how to do it. Just feel your way. Find what you love to see in your home, fill it with the things that make you happy. It can be Nana, or Grandpa, or Boho, or Modern, or Gone With The Wind, or Country Charm, or Barbie Fun House ( I just made some new style genres for sure!) for all I care – as long as you love it.

I love my home to be filled with a majority of vintage, plus a mix of new items I have bought from local designers and creatives when I can afford it and find something I need, or totally adore and want in my life. As for Nana, I am partial to a doily, a lace tablecloth, and old chairs and cupboards from the 1940’s – 1960’s. I love my chippy cupboards and roadside finds, with a touch of industrial thrown in for good measure. I thrive on a boho style with a blend of colour and pattern. I would be hard pressed to define my style as anything but Helen’s House.

15 Quick Ways to Create a Beautiful Home on a BudgetSo go the Nana. Embrace it with everything you have and load your house with the old, the comfortable, the special, and the worn. Add some doilies and a bit of crochet. Lay your table with china teacups and pour your leaf tea from a special pot. Having some nana in your home shows the stories that have come before you and the paths that people have taken. It reminds you that you are here for but a fleeting moment, and that other people have walked before, and will walk after you. It reminds you not to be selfish. It showcases your unique style and makes a statement about how much you value the energy, recources and time that goes into making stuff, and your commitment to trying to preserve and celebrate the old, and pass these on for someone else to enjoy when you are done.
**update of a post originally shared in 2016


  1. MaryCheng on March 16, 2016 at 8:37 am

    I so embrace the old styles found in Op Shops, Vintage stores, Secondhand stores and Antique villages.  Its also history! Its how we lived back whenever!  I am happy to reuse furniture or items.  Everytime we travel, we seem to love going into these types of stores and finding all sorts of items and saying “Wow. look at this.  Isnt it fantastic…”  I have some old suitcases that I will be decorating a room with, and filling it with some material given to me by a friend.  They are sample material and I love the tartan style!  I have old frames I can reuse, paint up etc which I have done before.  An old teapot, which I am toying with the idea of using as a pot for my succulents etc.  Lots for the imagination!  I still have some of my mums furniture (retro style) and they look amazing.  Keep up the great work!

    • Helen Edwards on March 20, 2016 at 4:56 pm

      thank you – love that and you have a lot of fantastic ideas!

  2. Meg on March 16, 2016 at 9:58 am

    Hi Helen.  
    I love a bit of Nanna Styling.  Our place is full of recycled pieces, some made with love by us, other pieces I’ve found as pieces of junk on the side of the road or in the bin room at my apartment block.  
    Have you visited Alpha Box and Dice winery at McLaren Vale?  It is the ultimate in Nanna Style.  I felt like I was walking straight back into my grandma’s house. Meg

  3. myvintagechild on March 16, 2016 at 11:24 am

    I’m with you baby and oh how do I feel the same quite heavily at present about personal style. Our home is a mix of vintage and modern and everything else in between. I could give two hoots about being perceived as having just the right mix. You know what I do have I have just the right mix for me and my family and we make changes when we see fit and we can afford to do so. But all that aside when we have people visit they always comment on our home and how they feel like they can relax here. I take it as a compliment and think it must largely have to do with our connection we have to things we have in our home that are connected to our past, our memories, our interests and personal preferences.

    • Helen Edwards on March 20, 2016 at 4:55 pm

      You are such a leader in this area – the Trudie style is a strong one and so many of us admire it! love your work and your priorities in life x

  4. Recycled_Interiors on March 20, 2016 at 4:59 pm

    myvintagechild love your style so much and there is definitely no box to describe it except Trudie Style – which so many people fall in love with, thanks for sharing x

  5. Recycled_Interiors on March 20, 2016 at 4:59 pm

    @Meg that sounds perfect! I have not visited there, but will take a look!

  6. Recycled_Interiors on March 20, 2016 at 5:00 pm

    MaryCheng sounds like you have a lot of skills and ideas which is the first step! I would love to see some of your projects – they sound fantastic!

  7. Lisa Wilson Stiller on March 23, 2016 at 10:59 am

    Nothing. Not one thing.

  8. Rhonda Lee on March 23, 2016 at 3:01 pm

    Nothing . My style .

  9. Brenda Hill on March 23, 2016 at 5:04 pm

    Thanks for a great article Helen. My home is full of mainly vintage, nanna style stuff, but also some newer pieces that we like & are more functional. Whatever makes you happy is the style to go with.

  10. Heather Wolstencroft on March 25, 2016 at 11:45 am

    Not a thing

Leave a Comment