How to decorate with vintage signs

With their myriad fonts, colours, shapes and sizes, vintage signs add character and frivolity to any space. Their varied subjects mean they work in any room, too…

Vintage signs shoot shot in the studio

You don’t need a lofty warehouse apartment to display large signs to best effect. Be confident with your choices – as long as you love them, they will create an eye-catching display that’s sure to be a talking point.

Vintage signs shoot shot in the studio
Chesterfield sofa, £1,649, Thomas Lloyd. On sofa: cushion, £12, Matalan; throw, £34.99, H&M. Plant, stylist’s own. Rug, £200, Focus on the Past. Vintage early 20th-century leather travel case, £125, Retrovation. Large suitcase, £30, Rag & Bone Bristol. ‘Pawnbroker’ shop sign c1900, £275; ‘Swancroft’ 1930s trade sign, £475, both Marc Kitchen-Smith. Early 20th-century ‘J Scott Cycle Agent’ trade sign (against wall), £1,350, Lassco. ‘Williamson’ trade sign c1910 (against wall), £550, Marc Kitchen-Smith. Oboro film light in antique red, £195, Nkuku.

An elegant drinks trolley and a selection of decorative glassware and cocktail shakers cries out to be given its own dedicated area in your kitchen, sitting room or garden room. Juxtapose a few neon lights with an ornate chandelier to ensure cocktail hour never looked so tempting.

Vintage signs shoot shot in the studio
Hollywood Regency chandelier, £295, Lorfords. Red ‘Cocktails’ neon box sign, £95, Graham & Green. Mid-century French drinks trolley, £495, Mustard Vintage. On trolley: art deco champagne bucket, £395, Lorfords; mid-century brass apple and pear, £45 each; mid-century brass cocktail shaker, £95, all Mustard Vintage; mid-century glasses, £35 for six, Rachel’s & Michael’s Antiques; ‘Bar’ neon box sign, £95, Graham & Green; soda siphon, £195, Lorfords. ‘Sorry Folks We’re Full’ sign, £225, Vintage White. Large green glass vase, £20, Malvern Flea & Collectors Fair.

Arrange signs based on a theme, such as street signage, to make a strong style statement that requires very little additional ornamentation.

Vintage signs shoot shot in the studio
Table, £220, Rag & Bone Bristol. On table: ‘Warwick Row’ London street sign, £180, Vintage White; 1930s Olivetti Ico typewriter, £195, Retrovation; books, stylist’s own; 1960s yellow Herbert Terry Anglepoise, £185, Retrovation; plant, stylist’s own. ‘Rue Michel Sicre’ French enamelled blue and white road sign, £85, English Salvage. London Underground enamel sign ‘Tufnell Park’, £280, Vintage White; red sign, £50, Atelier Curiosa at Etsy. ‘Daily Telegraph’ sign, £225, Vintage White.

A utility room, corner of the kitchen or cloakroom is the perfect place to display vintage signs, both on the wall and propped against it. Choose signs that relate to items on display to add a sense of cohesion and inject a little humour.

Vintage signs shoot shot in the studio
Early 20th-century marble-topped table, £780, Lorfords. On table: original vintage enamel shop sign, £400, English Salvage; plant pots; Mason jars; wooden pegs; soap bars, all stylist’s own; brushes, from £5, all Focus on the Past; carpet beater, £25, Focus on the Past; Lemba wire basket, £39.95, Nkuku; towels, from a selection at Dunelm; ‘Pears Soap’ sign, £95, Retrovation. ‘Trolley Bus’ sign, £160; Japanese sewing sign, £285, both Vintage White. Vintage ‘Pirelli’ sign (just seen), £450, Vintage White.

For a kitchen or dining room, you’ll find plenty of options for vintage signage that tie in with a food and drink theme. Some of them are even in pleasingly unusual shapes too – like the Nectar Tea sign here.

Vintage signs shoot shot in the studio
Antique oak drapers drawers/kitchen island, £995, Mustard Vintage. ‘Fry’s Chocolate’ sign, £2,400; ‘Lyle Lemonade’ sign, £300; ‘Nectar Tea’ sign, £320; ‘Lyons Cakes’ sign, £280, all Vintage White. Vintage metal high-back office stool, £130, English Salvage. On drawers: plant pot, £8, Focus on the Past; hand-numbered tea tins, £25 each, Lassco; rolling pin, £28, Focus on the Past; glass jugs, £15, each, Rachel’s & Michael’s Antiques; teapot; saucepans, all stylist’s own; galvanised box, £10, Rag & Bone Bristol; glasses and glass bottles, stylist’s own. Opaline glass ‘Jellied Eels’ pendant grocery light, £700, Lorfords. Distressed Antique Whisky engineered oak flooring, £49.99 per sq m, Luxury Flooring.

Antique trunks make fabulous bedside tables and are often sturdy enough to hold all manner of decorative pieces, from distressed letters to lamps and vases. Neon lights keep the look modern and up to date and add a counterpoint to the antique brass bed and street sign.

Vintage signs shoot shot in the studio
French aged brass double bed, £1,250, Bedsteads. Wide stripe seersucker bedding set, £59, Marks and Spencer. Eliana velvet bedspread, £65, Dunelm. Hand-drawn neon heart, £79.95; neon LED heart light, £195, both Graham & Green. Large plant pot and plant, stylist’s own. Rug, £250, Focus on the Past. Antique bentwood travel trunk, £195, Retrovation. On trunk: decorative distressed metal letter M, £175, Rockett St George; ‘Matches/Cigarette’ sign, £180, Vintage White; vintage brass ice bucket (with flowers in), £45, Mustard Vintage; books, stylist’s own. Victorian cast-iron ‘Epple Road’ street sign, £165, English Salvage.

Team oversized light-up letters with a collection of vibrant vintage signs to bring drama and interest to a dark or unused corner of your home.

Vintage signs shoot shot in the studio
‘LOVE’ letters, £340 per letter; Alpana Rose velvet cocktail chair, £395, all Graham & Green. Rug, £250, Focus on the Past. ‘Satin Skin Powder’ sign, £380, Vintage White.

Turn a utilitarian bathroom into something altogether more exciting with a vintage bench and signage to create a quirky railway waiting room vibe.

Vintage signs shoot shot in the studio
Reclaimed Shanks Tasman pedestal basin, £450, English Salvage. Art nouveau green tiles (on the basin), £65 for three, Rachel’s & Michael’s Antiques. Mirror, £22, Focus on the Past. Green ‘Waiting Room’ sign, £280, Vintage White. French enamelled blue and white ‘Rue de Sousse’ road sign, £85, English Salvage. 19th-century garden bench, £750, Lorfords. On bench: Underground ‘No Entry’ sign, £95, Vintage White; vintage wooden tray, £15, Rag & Bone Bristol; enamel mug, £8, Focus on the Past; toothbrushes, stylist’s own; plant pot, £7.99, HomeSense; towels, from a selection at Dunelm. ‘Coiffeur’ French hairdresser’s trade sign c1930-40, £680, Lassco. Distressed Antique Whisky engineered oak flooring, £49.99 per sq m, Luxury Flooring. Jacquard-weave bath mat in natural white/ grey, £17.99, H&M.