How to decorate with antique posters

Discover the art of the pin-up with our guide to introducing antique and vintage posters into your home 

It was in the days of Belle Époque Paris, a city giddy with cultural, scientific and industrial change, that the playful poster as we know it was born. It had been some 200 years since printed playbills and ‘posters’ – public announcements quite literally fixed to posts – had first appeared on our streets, but in this commercial and creative hub, the medium was reinvented.

‘In the late 19th century, the growth of mass advertising and new developments in colour lithography enabled the pictorial poster to flourish, bringing the emerging art form to millions,’ explains Margaret Timmers, the Victoria and Albert Museum’s authority on posters, and now, they are highly collectable.

Discover how to introduce antique and vintage posters into your own home with these 7 tips. 

1. Make good use of the space inside the borders of period wall panelling by showing off your prints. Hang them simply to keep the lines clean. Magnetic frames offer an inexpensive route to displaying smaller-scale travel posters with ease

Wall painted in ‘Pure Brilliant White’ matt emulsion, £13.99 per 2.5l, Dulux. ‘Austria Österreich’ 1960s poster, £350; ‘LÖtschberg’ 1937 poster, £650; ‘Visitez la France Lakes of Massif Central’ 1954 poster, £375, all Antikbar. Magnetic print frames, £22 each, Moxon. Faux potted areca palm, £239, Rockett St George. ‘Bertoia’ gold chair, £2,310, Aram. On chair: ‘Paris’ needlepoint cushion, £98, Jonathan Adler; notebook, from a selection, Organise Us. ‘Platner’ side table, £1,174, Aram. On table: ‘Berlingot’ wine tumbler, £75, The Conran Shop; paperweight, £28, Graham & Green; ‘Whitefriars Bark’ amethyst vase, £120, Robinson Antiques at Alfies Antique Market; ‘Malachite Twist’ vase, £128; ‘Turquoise Pop Decanter’ lid, £198, both Jonathan Adler.  

2. Enjoy your own Sunday matinée. A vintage cinema board above a mantelpiece is an interesting place to spotlight your print. Metallic finishes and subtle hints of colour keep things interesting without detracting from the main focal point 

Deco poster noticeboard, £414, Retrouvius. ‘Irma La Douce’ 1963 poster, £250, The Reel Poster Gallery. Wall-mounted ‘Parlour’ light, £58, Rockett St George. ‘Whitefriars Bark’ tangerine vase, £120, Robinson Antiques at Alfies Antique Market. ‘Futura Bullseye’ vase, £150, Jonathan Adler. ‘Grayson’ budgie, £16.95; cinema lightbox, £37.50, both Rockett St George. Alphabet-shaped books, £17.95 each, The Letteroom. ‘Malachite Twist’ vase, £128, Jonathan Adler. ‘Whitefriars Bark’ amethyst vase, £120, Robinson Antiques at Alfies Antique Market.

3. If you want to make a real statement, go bold with a gallery wall of iconic film posters. Arrange closely together for maximum visual impact, but use simple black frames to tie the different designs together

Wall painted in ‘Indian White’ matt emulsion, £24.49 per 2.5l, Dulux. Posters (clockwise from top left): ‘Blow Up’, £1,750, The Reel Poster Gallery; ‘The Fox’, £100, Orson & Welles; ‘Solaris’, £1,600, Orson & Welles; ‘The Detective’ poster and frame, £450; ‘Cabaret’, £350; ‘Goldfinger’, £2,250, all The Reel Poster Gallery; ‘The Illustrated Man Tattoo’, £275, Antikbar. Large frames, from a selection at Antikbar. Small frames, from £38 each, John Lewis. ‘Levantine’ fuchsia rug, £5,700, Bazaar Velvet. American ‘Crab Claw’ chair, £1,650, The Old Cinema. On chair: ‘Mod Model’ cushion, £165, Jonathan Adler. ‘Jiya’ side table, £225, Graham & Green. On table: faux fern in a conch shell, £49, Bloom; small horn sculpture, £78; ‘Globo’ box, £198, both Jonathan Adler. ‘Tiffany’ sofa, £3,250, Graham & Green. On sofa: ‘Zodiac’ cushions, £98 each; ‘Mod Love’ cushion, £175; ‘Heart’ cushion, £165, all Jonathan Adler; books, from a selection at Rennies Seaside Modern. Faux bird of paradise, £299; faux potted areca palm, £239, both Rockett St George. Tony Curtis cut-out, £180, Lassco. Faux grass, £99, Bloom.   

4. A home print studio is a great place to play with decorating ideas using posters and prints. Cover a wall with vintage-style paper featuring theatre and art shows – you can then contrast this with framed original pieces. Care for your precious prints by always displaying them away from direct sunlight

Walls painted in ‘Panel White’ matt emulsion, £24.49 per 2.5l, Dulux. Walls papered in ‘The Show Must Go On’, from £65 per sq m, Surface View. Framed Joan Miro poster ‘Bank Street, New York’ for Atelier Mourlot, £452, King & McGaw. ‘Mila’ wall light, £115, Graham & Green. Reclaimed ping pong table, £480, Elemental. On table: Screens and squeegees, from a selection at Hunt the Moon; books, from a selection at Rennies Seaside Modern; 20 Iconic Film Posters by Saul Bass, £19.95, Rockett St George. Plan chest, £695, Andrew Bewick Antiques. On chest: ‘Pencil sharpener’ desk tidy, from £17, The Letteroom; pens and brushes, find similar at John Lewis; faux pilea plant, £39, Bloom; cinema-style message board, £45, Rockett St George; postcards, from £1 each, Rennies Seaside Modern; books, £18 each, Retrouvius; alphabet-shaped books, £17.95 each, The Letteroom; multicoloured ‘Splatter’ bowl, £49; multicoloured ‘Splatter’ serving platter, £65, both The Conran Shop. ‘The Open Air Sculpture Exhibition’ Henry Moore 1948 framed poster, £1,500, Rennies Seaside Modern. ‘Mill’ bin, £120, Elemental. ‘Royal College of Art Sketch Club’ 1928 poster, £1,750, Antikbar. Stapler and inks, from a selection at Hunt the Moon. ‘Space Lounge’ chair, £600, Elemental. On chair: Picasso cushion cover ‘Portrait De Dora Maar’, £90, The Conran Shop. 

 5. Plan chests are available in a range of sizes and are a quirky way of storing your art exhibition posters safely. The wide, shallow drawers mean you can lie them flat, making the posters easy to show to visitors

Walls papered in ‘The Show Must Go On’, from £65 per sq m, Surface View. Plan chest, £695, Andrew Bewick Antiques. ‘Cubism Exhibition Picasso’ 1953 poster, £750; ‘Henry Moore Exhibition’ 1957 poster, £550, both Antikbar. ‘Splatter’ bowl, £49, The Conran Shop. Pens and brushes, find similar at John Lewis.

6. Lean your framed posters on a sideboard for a laid-back look. You can secure them in place with accessories – a stack of books makes a good prop. Strong, graphic designs from the 1930s by artists such as Cassandre are among the most iconic, and the large scale gives a bedroom a modern edge

Wall painted in ‘Indian White’ matt emulsion, £24.49 per 2.5l, Dulux. Coffee table, £495, The Old Cinema. On table: faux papyrus plant, £99, Bloom. 1970s sideboard, £395, The Old Cinema. On sideboard: ‘Western Africa Chargeurs Reunis Cruises’ 1929 poster, £1,100; ‘Nord Express’ by Cassandre 1980 poster, £450, both Antikbar; frames, from a selection at Antikbar; ‘Parrot fish’ decanter, £240, The Conran Shop; books, from a selection at Rennies Seaside Modern; sunglasses and shell, stylist’s own; metal suitcase, £85, The Old Cinema; vintage Phillips lamp, £240, The Old Cinema; ‘Block’ clock, £55, The Conran Shop; ‘Charade’ studded vase, £88, Jonathan Adler. ‘Makrana 1’ rug, £3,450, Bazaar Velvet.

7. Let your travel posters take centre stage by displaying them, framed, on a vintage easel. Finish the look with stacked suitcases and coastal-striped bed linen

Walls painted in ‘Indian White’ emulsion, £24.49 per 2.5l, Dulux. ‘Regatta of the Sun French Riviera’ 1950s poster, £950, Antikbar. Frame, £45, John Lewis. Leather suitcases, from £150 each; metal suitcase, £85, all The Old Cinema. Alpaca throws, £295 each, Jonathan Adler. On mantelpiece: multicoloured tall decanter, £195, The Conran Shop; ‘Whitefriars Bark’ ruby vase, £165; ‘Whitefriars Bark’ tangerine vase, £120, both Robinson Antiques at Alfies Antique Market; photo frame, £11.95, Graham & Green; compass paperweight and box, £49.95, The Letteroom; multicoloured midi decanter, £160, The Conran Shop; ‘Murano Sommerso’ teardrop vase, £275, Robinson Antiques at Alfies Antique Market. Retro chair, £128, The Old Cinema. On chair: ‘KNS’ cushion, £68, Andrew Bewick Antiques; grey tote, £65, The Conran Shop. Easel, £594, Retrouvius. On easel: 1950s poster, £850, Rennies Seaside Modern. ‘Makrana 1’ rug, £3,450, Bazaar Velvet. ‘Coastal Stripe’ duvet cover, £70; ‘Charcoal’ throw, £42, both Secret Linen Store.

The full feature on decorating with vintage posters appeared in the June 2017 issue of Homes & Antiques. Back issues are still available. To purchase a copy click here

Photographs: Katya De Grunwald 
Styling: Ali Bradshaw


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