The Junk Parlor

Oh my goodness it feels SO GOOD to be putting my vintage pieces into their new homes on our fireplace built-ins!

I have lived in a work zone for almost 7 months.  Moving is stressful enough, but add to that stress trying to get built-ins completed…let’s just emphasize how good it feels to be able to put my living room together.

The built-ins were the centerpiece of the main floor. Our kitchen, dining room and living room are all open to each other. It was hard to imagine how the built-ins would impact the look of the space and therefore hard to make furniture and decor decisions in the living area of our home.

Words cannot explain how good it feels to have a completed space.  A space that feels like me and actually feels like my house.  It feels so good to not look at paint samples all over the wall.  If feels so good to know I didn’t just put thousands of dollars into the trash after so many issues with the carpenter.  I hope you understand how good it feels for my mental state to finally be able to fill my beautiful built-ins with vintage decor!!

Take a look!

Watch Me Decorate with Vintage

Adjustable Shelving

When I designed the built-ins I knew I wanted to have adjustable shelving.  I knew that a lot of pieces I would place on the shelf would actually be pieces that I am selling.  That means there will be a constant rotation happening.  Things will be different heights and sizes and I wanted the built-ins to allow for flexibility in my decorating.

Another dealer once told me that she only buys cabinets with at least 12” between shelves.  This seemed to be a good height for displaying pieces in her shop.  As I bought and sold more items in my shop and spent years rearranging, I learned that she was right.  And honestly I walked away from many cool pieces because I would picture my inventory displayed on that piece and realize that narrow shelves were very limiting.

When you have an antique booth or shop, every square inch counts!

I also came to realize that depth is just as important.  I do not style items hanging off a shelf.  Maybe occasionally to create a look in the shop, but not when I’m decorating for my house.  This also helped me when buying furniture for the shop. Again you want the shelves to be at least 12″ deep. Otherwise what you can place on them is very limited.

All of that to say that those experiences in my antique shop influenced the design of the built-ins!  And I must say that after decorating them for the first time, I’ve very happy with how things turned out! Adjustable shelves allows me to change the height and we went with the upper shelves having almost 16″ of depth.

Placing Vintage Pieces

The first thing I did in my decorating process was brought up all the pieces I thought i might want to put on the built-ins.  All of my smalls and mediums are stored in the basement.  Mainly because I didn’t have anywhere to put anything while we waited for the built-ins to get installed.

After I brought up a lot of the pieces I started placing the taller, bigger items.  I started with bigger things because that influenced shelf placement. I did not want the shelves to line up on any part of the built-ins on either side of the fireplace. Placing larger items first allowed me to make each section of the built-ins different. Once I was happy with the shelf placement I started to fill in with vintage items.

After larger items were placed, I started filling in with smaller pieces.  I wanted the entire space to feel curated. To do that I needed to decorate with like pieces. Pieces that I could duplicate in color, style, texture and feel.

I have a lot of old books I wanted to showcase. Books are great to use for texture and risers. I worked a lot of those into the built-ins to give smaller pieces a bigger impact. Sprinkling like items such as books around the built-ins helps create that curated look.

I just kept placing pieces and adjusting the shelves accordingly as you can see in my VIDEO.  I made sure to step back away from the built-ins to see the whole space.  Sometimes you get one area looking great, but then step back and realize that it doesn’t fit the big picture.  That the one space doesn’t match or coordinate with the rest of the decor.

One half could have really full sections, while the other is very pared down and simple. Instead of having complete sections as one or the other it is better to “sprinkle” in those pared down sections instead of having them all together. Hopefully I’m making some sense in my explanation!

Styling Tips

I have quite a few cloches and glass decorative jars filled with smaller collections, like butter presses, stamps, wooden spools. I tried to space those pieces that were similar in style or color around in the display. When you decorate any space whether it’s for your home or your shop, repetition and variation are very important.  

I want to repeat colors and textures in a display, but I also want to vary their location.  If I had all white pieces low and on the left then the built-ins wouldn’t feel cohesive.  Instead you will find white items sprinkled throughout the built-ins.

So look at the cabinet as a whole versus individual spaces too!  If a grouping of books are bottom right, then more books might go top left in a nearby section.  You might have a stack of books under a wood bowl in one section and then in a different section repeat with the use of books, but this time place them vertically.  We repeat the books, but we vary their orientation.

Then you repeat this concept for all types of items and you have a curated space!

Layering is also a great styling tip! Stack things on top of things. In the photo above we have a round bread board on top of a square cutting board. A white plate holding a wicker basket with a plant sits on top of them both. Not only do we want to stack things, but think of the shapes and colors of those things as you stack.

Layering simply means stacking things on top of each other to go vertical with your layers. Or, you can lean things in front of other things to create layers. Decor can also give the feel of layers when you vary the depth of items. Some items are so big that they take up an entire shelf, but when you have smaller pieces and you put something in front of and to the side of the piece, that also creates a layered look.

When you decorate your spaces, simply use the Elements & Principals of Design from high school art class! Or Google those “rules” and you will be able to make anything look good!


As I decorated my built-ins with vintage pieces, I realized that I could use some more brass items and maybe a few more white pieces.  This helps me when I go out picking and thrifting!  Not only am I looking for items to resell, but I’m also looking to fill holes on my own shelves.

I also took pieces from my bedroom to decorate the built-ins.  I know that when I’m out sourcing for the shop, that I also want to find a couple pieces to replace the ones I took! So in addition to brass and ironstone I would like to find a few more bread boards, wooden bowls, and hinged boxes. Want to go with me out sourcing? Go HERE.

I love when you find little bits like this!

Looking for more tips?

Watch me style a coffee table with vintage pieces!

Here are some tips on styling a cabinet with doors!

Watch On YouTube

One Room Challenge

Want to see more participants in the One Room Challenge? Check it out HERE.

Living Room Makeover Game Plan

Week 1 – Create a Game Plan & Pick a Paint Color

Week 2 – Paint the Living Room

Week 3 – Tackle the Carpet & Transform the Window Treatment

Part 1 – Carpet Dent Removal

Part 2 – Trimming the Blinds

Week 4 – Install Peg Rack Wall / Board & Batten Wall

Week 5 – Picking Other Furniture for the Room

Week 6 – Built-Ins *these are finally done 3 months later!

No blog post for this specific week!

Week 7 – Staining the Built-Ins

Week 8 – Adding Decor

This post may contain affiliate links for the products I use and recommend. I am not paid to promote these products. If you purchase using my affiliate links, I could make a small commission at no charge to you.

Checkout My YouTube Channel

Week 1 Living Room Makeover

Week 2 Picking a Paint Color

Week 3 Part 1 Removing the Indentations in the Carpet

Week 3 Part 2 Transforming Blinds

Week 4 Board and Batten Wall

One Room Challenge Pinterest Pin of the unfinished board and batten wall.  Brooke Johnson | The Junk Parlor | Old stuff and cool junk for your home | Business Coach for Antique Dealers | thejunkparlor.com

Week 5 & 6 Selecting Furniture

Week 7 The Built-Ins

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