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Inside a Collector’s Vintage Maximalist Apartment

Inside a Collector’s Vintage Maximalist Apartment

A vintage-inspired bedroom complete with a multicolor quilt, statement lamp, "Big Eye" paintings, and a slew of other antique fixtures.
Written by Kathryn Drury Wagner
photography by Bret Gun

Remember the Vallely family from this Rock-n-Roll meets sweet sunshine house tour?

Interestingly enough, daughter, Emily Vallely, has a knack for selling antiques with her mother, and showcases her unique aesthetic by curating a range of decor. So when we heard she was moving into her own apartment, we were delighted to document the results.

A collection of vintage paintings along a white wall, hanging over an antique living room bar.
A gallery wall of vintage paintings, many of them portraits, add personality and color to the room.

“I was so excited to move into my first place,” says Emily. “Before that, I was decorating my little room in my parents’ house”.

So, expectedly, Emily enjoys having free range to furnish a whole apartment, especially the kitchen, in which her collection of vintage Pyrex and cookbooks go perfectly.

A black-and-white tiled kitchen, composed of a vintage diner table, reupholstered chairs, and two white cabinets filled with antique decor.
“A friend of mine knew someone who had a collection of these 1950s diner tables in her garage,” says Emily. The chairs were a separate project; she mixed and matched and reupholstered to get the look she was after.

As for Emily’s experience with vintage pieces, she has been selling antiques for about two years through her booth at Magnolia and Willow in Long Beach, California. However, her eye for treasure hunting didn’t start there, given that her family has “been collecting forever”.

And with a background in “antiquing,” her new apartment is a 1937 gem that perfectly suits Emily’s vintage ardor. There’s a black-and-white tiled kitchen with built-in shelves, a living room complete with hardwood floors, and the most perfect pink-themed bathroom.

A pink-themed bathroom with several vintage fixtures spread around the mirror and next to the sink.
Accordingly, her décor went thematic. “The bathroom has kitschy knickknacks. The living room and dining room are more refined, being a bit more traditional. I love incorporating all decades,” such as the “1920s, art deco, and midcentury,” Emily says.

When preparing to move into her nest, Emily “got into the decorating mindset,” shopping for two months until “the apartment got pretty well filled.”

She used her vintage-collecting savvy to complete this endeavor, stating that, “Magnolia and Willow is my favorite place to shop because I’m there all the time, and the dealers have amazing taste!”

An antique wooden cabinet, with decor spread along the surface, lounging below a painting of a 19th century cowgirl.

She also frequented The Vintage Emporium of Long Beach, estate sales, and the Long Beach Antique Market. Not to mention, her network of antique dealer friends helped out along the way, “swapping from garages” and such.

A antique wooden cabinet, sporting several different vintage fixtures, such as a taxidermy bird and paintings, both in and around it.
“I would never support new taxidermy,” says Emily, who has been vegan for four years and blogs on the subject. “But my money went to an antiques dealer.” She’d rather keep things out of landfills than quibble too much about leather this or feathers that.

So, what’s her advice to anyone looking to start designing their first home?

“Don’t rush into decorating all at once,” she says. “I did that, and it put a lot of pressure on me financially and otherwise. It’s better to take your time. You might find something you like in six months. Take your time.”

Emily Vallely's living room, complete with a classic painting, fireplace, suitcase decor, vintage candleholders, peacock chair, and a blue couch.
“My mom and I spent the night camping out before an estate sale to get that peacock chair,” says Emily.

For Emily, shopping vintage is about both the environmental impact and the joy of exploration. “If you go into a store and you already know what you’re going to find, it takes some of the fun out of it. If you go vintage shopping, you never know what you might discover.”

So take her advice, and get to decorating!

Emily Vallely sitting on her porch with a glass of lemonade, sporting a vintage 1970's yellow shift.
Emily wearing a vintage 1970s shift. “I love wearing florals and bright colors.”

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