How to Decorate With Vintage Posters

By Caroline Pizzo
Vintage poster advertisements double as charming works of art for any room.

Early poster-makers combined ornate images, imaginative silhouettes and creative lettering. The poster craze of the 1890s took artists' renderings of social themes and events to new heights. The advancements in lithographic printing further helped posters become works of art with additional colors and sharper designs. But nothing delighted artistic voyeurs more than the New Century's bold cartoon-like figures visible in the Cappiello posters. Borrow from one of the distinctive periods in poster history to inspire your inner designer.

Cinematic Approach

Decorate your music or family room with movie posters from the '40s, '50s or '60s helps create a signature atmosphere for your home. Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman cheek-to-cheek on a “Casablanca” poster symbolize romance and suspense, while Allison Hayes dominating an “Attack of the 50 Foot Woman” promo conveys sci-fi mystique. Whatever genre stirs your passion, channel it via posters containing radiant colors and vibrant images. If you love the King, build a kitschy grid of "Jailhouse Rock" "Clambake" and "Viva Las Vegas" posters to pay homage to Elvis.

Advertising Styles

Advertising and travel-themed posters lend thematic touches to kitchens and work rooms. If your home has sleek lines, look toward the Art Deco period of posters, which showcases powerful structures from mammoth luxury liners to gleaming autos. The object- and advertising-themed posters popular after World War II focused on consumerism, industry and exotic destinations. A brand-specific or travel poster brings in a dose of whimsy and nostalgia to a cottage home. Conversely, a poster made during the Postmodern Movement suits an abstract design scheme.

Presentation and Size

Grouping posters of varying widths and heights creates a dynamic visual landscape. A large movie poster functions as a focal element when you place smaller posters around it. Two posters attached to a sandwich board-style display become dimensional works of art. By pairing posters from the Postmodern and Futurism movements, you effectively create a powerful look for an upright triangle display. Lend a final touch of ambiance to your posters by illuminating them with track lights, uplights or recessed lighting.

Music Posters

Vintage and musical theater posters can also double as profound pieces of artwork in your music room or bedroom. Whatever your musical preference -- swing, jazz, rock-and-roll -- a vintage poster expresses your taste. Musical theater and band posters are lively and colorful, with showgirls, big bands and fancy fonts. Promotional concert posters feature graphic logos, pops of color, musical instruments and stark photos and illustrations. By accessorizing your poster-tinged room with silver globe-lamps and vibrantly colored pillows, it will get lots of applause.

About the Author

Caroline Pizzo has written education and design articles since 2000. She has worked as an information specialist in education and as a professional floral and display designer. Her articles have appeared in women's magazines and blogs. She holds a bachelor's degree in communications and journalism from Southern Connecticut State University.