Period Perfect Details at Any Price
12 splurge-worthy reproduction pieces for a vintage look, plus their wallet-wise counterparts. Invest in the best or get the look for less? The choice is yours
When you're looking to work more vintage character into your home, sometimes only the best restoration-grade fixture, finish, or decorative detail will do. Other times, though, you might be just as content with a lower-priced look-alike. Coming up: the lowdown on 12 splurge-worthy reproduction pieces, plus their wallet-wise counterparts. Invest in the best or get the look for less? See our side-by-side comparisons to decide for yourself.
Lining station walls in 1904, when New York City subway trains made their maiden voyage, the easy-to-clean, 3-by-6-inch white tile became an instant must-have finish for bathroom walls.
Subway tile has become so ubiquitous that its original appearance has almost been forgotten. The historically accurate ones from Subway Ceramics are ⅜ inch thick with a flat surface, a square edge, and a glossy white glaze. Coupled with pencil-thin grout lines, they're a dead ringer for vintage subways.
36FT00 3x6 field tile, about $16 per square foot; Subway Ceramics for dealers
Thinner than the real deal at 5/16 inch, and with eased edges, DalTile's subways come in three white glazes—handy when matching new tile to existing porcelain fixtures.
Rittenhouse Square 3x6 field tile in Arctic White, about $2.65 per square foot; South Cypress
Named for its bulbous globe, this lantern—originally fueled by whale oil—has been a popular fixture for the entries of New England coastal cottages for more than 100 years.
New Hampshire craftspeople solder the body of this hearty lantern from solid brass. Only its globe, in either clear or seeded glass, is exempt from the maker's lifetime warranty. But the heavy-gauge wire cage should protect it from nor'easters.
Northeast Lantern Caged Outdoor Onion Light, 10½ inches high, in Dark Antique Brass, about $380; Lighting Universe
This brass lantern is machine crafted, but an oiled bronze finish and bubbles in the seeded glass globe give it vintage style. Five feet of chain come in the box, giving you the option to let the lantern hang or flush-mount it on the ceiling.
Cape Cod Porch Light, 9 inches high, in Sienna Bronze, about $145; House of Antique Hardware
Prized by Victorians for its good looks and fortitude against frequent scouring, patterned black-and-white hex tile remains a top pick for kitchens and baths.
Dry-pressed in steel molds, these unglazed porcelain hex tiles have the square-cut edges characteristic of vintage originals. The snowflake design is one of 13 historic patterns that can be made to order in just about any color combination imaginable. Just remember: For the most authentic look, light gray is the color of choice for grout.
Black snowflake No. H 1205 (floor shown with an additional Greek key border), about $23 per square foot; American Restoration Tile
The closest prefab match to the snowflake pattern is a flower. But you can create the snowflake yourself by cannibalizing a few sheets of plain black hex tiles. Simply pop out the white tile above each flower petal and replace it with a black one secured to the mesh backing with a dot of hot glue.
Unglazed Porcelain Flower Hexagon 1", about $7 per square foot, and Unglazed Black Porcelain Hexagon 1", about $7.50 per square foot; LuxeTile
For step-by-step help with this project, see How to Tile a Floor.
Often with spandrels in the corners and fretwork along the rails, screen doors from the late 1800s matched the gingerbread-draped entries in which they were hung.
This solid-wood door's traditional mortise-and-tenon construction will withstand weather and wear. Removable screens can be swapped for tempered or plexiglass storms, making it a snap to convert when seasons change. The return on your investment begins with the first year of energy savings.
Southern Grace 32-inch screen door in primed poplar, about $570; YesterYear's Vintage Doors
Vinyl has its advantages. This screen door comes in white only, but it never needs to be painted. And it won't splinter, rot, or warp like a wood door can. Its solid-vinyl frame can be trimmed to fit with common cutting tools.
Georgian 32-inch screen door, about $150; The Home Depot
A hallmark of Queen Anne–style houses built from 1880 to 1910, wood shingles shaped like fish scales often decorated gables and dormers.
The real deal, these vertical-grain western red cedar shingles come in 8-foot-long self-aligning panels. They go up fast, and they come in single, as opposed to multiple, courses, so there's little waste. Panels are unfinished, so homeowners can customize their own paint palette or go with a historic color scheme.
Fishscale Cut Cedar Shingle Panels, about $11.50 per square foot uninstalled; Vintage Woodworks
Patterned after real wood shingles, these textured polymer ones come in 28 fade-resistant colors. The multicourse 12½-by-32-inch panels have an integral locking strip for wind resistance and a seamless look.
Cedar Impressions 6¼" Half-Round Shingles in Barn Red, about about $3.50 per square foot uninstalled; CertainTeed
Designed to complement modest bungalows, circa 1910 bath sinks had an unfussy, clean-lined look.
Handmade of vitreous china with drill-outs for a 12-inch-spread faucet, this pedestal comes with a limited lifetime warranty and all mounting hardware for easy installation.
St. Thomas Liberty, about $600; DEA Bathroom Machineries
The open-back base of this porcelain-enameled cast-iron sink hides plumbing. Drill-outs are for a 12-inch-spread faucet. It comes with a five-year warranty but no mounting hardware.
Randolph Morris Pedestal, about $250; Vintage Tub & Bath
For step-by-step help with this project, see How to Install a Pedestal Sink.
Used for centuries to hide the intersection where walls meet ceiling, crown adds polish and elegance to almost any room.
Artisans handcraft this plaster crown, which has a garland motif on its integral frieze. And they do it with just three natural ingredients: gypsum plaster, burlap, and water.
No. FM311, 6½ inches high, about $14.50 per linear foot uninstalled; Hyde Park Mouldings
From a distance, this high-density polyurethane molding masquerades as plaster. The lightweight paintable foam may have less-crisp ornamentation, but it's easy for homeowners to install themselves.
For step-by-step help with this project, see How to Install Easy Crown Molding.
A favorite in hardworking American kitchens since the turn of the 20th century, farmhouse sinks have a protruding "apron front" that was originally designed to prevent water that sloshed over the rim from damaging wood cabinetry.
This 35½-inch-wide beauty is molded from a single piece of dense and extremely durable fireclay. It's coated with a scratch-resistant glaze on both the front and the sides, allowing it to be undermounted or dropped in. Choose either a white, biscuit, matte black, or gloss black finish.
Franke Fireclay Apron Front Double Bowl Sink in white, about $1,350; Kitchensource.com
A self-rimming lip on this 36 5/8-inch-wide drop-in ceramic sink makes it ideal for kitchens with laminate counters, which have an unfinished edge around the sink cutout. A drainboard on the back provides a place to set wet sponges. One predrilled hole limits faucet choices to single-hole models and eliminates add-ons, such as a soap dispenser.
Domsjö double-bowl sink in white only, about $300; IKEA for stores
Whether it's color variations, old nail holes, or tiny insect borings, floors with patina harken back to earlier days and give the rooms in which they are laid a warm, rustic look.
Made from dead or fallen red oak trees salvaged from forests, this solid, ¾-inch-thick tongue-and-groove flooring is speckled with wormholes and knots. Boards come unfinished, and pro installation is recommended.
EcoAmerican Country Wormy Red Oak, 3- to 6-inch random-width boards, about $7.50 per square foot uninstalled; EcoTimber
They bear the telltale signs of wood with saw marks and knots, but these planks are laminate—a textured melamine veneer over a high-density fiberboard substrate. The flooring is DIY-friendly and ready to walk on from the day you put it down. Sold in eight-plank bundles with up to eight different "grain" patterns per box.
Historic Oak in ash, about $5 per square foot uninstalled; Mannington Mills
For step-by-step help with this project, see How to Lay Engineered Wood Floors.
The newel posts in Craftsman-style homes from the early 20th century were chunky and square, and built like a hollow box.
Nearly identical to one featured in the Universal Millwork Catalog of 1927, this Mission-style post features stile-and-rail construction with a true floating center panel.
Mission newel, 7½ by 53 inches, in red oak, about $700; Van Dyke's Restorers
By routing a simulated raised panel into a flat board, the maker of this slimmer newel can sell it at a steep discount.
Contractor-grade box newel, 6¼ by 55 inches, in red oak, about $155; Stair Parts USA
By the early 1900s, electric push-button bells with cast brass or bronze rosettes had largely replaced door knockers as the way to announce your arrival.
This Georgian-style brass push bell has a high-relief ribbon-and-reed design cast with a traditional lost-wax technique. The bell's mounting hardware is concealed, and its push button features a long-lasting LED light. Available in 30 hand-polished finishes.
Ribbon & Reed bell push in finish No. 609, about $150; Von Morris Corporation for a dealer near you
Forged of solid brass and plated in one of seven finishes, this push bell is then hand-buffed to a luster. It's mounted to the door surround with exposed screws and lit by an LED bulb.
Lighted Doorbell Button with Ribbon and Reed rosette in French Antique, about $20; Cape Cod Brass & Security Hardware
Showing off prominent rooflines to their best advantage since the mid-1800s, slate can last lifetimes and come in an array of earthy colors.
The third, fourth, and fifth generations of the family that sells this Vermont-quarried slate have personally attested to its durability, estimated at over 100 years. It's also naturally acid resistant, noncombustible, and able to withstand freeze-thaw cycles.
Natural slate in black, about about $5 per square foot uninstalled; Sheldon Slate Products
This polymer tile mimics ½-inch-thick natural slate with a rough edge. To achieve authentic color variations, the manufacturer bundles its shingles in as many as 11 different tones per pack. While only marginally cheaper than the real thing, the savings with synthetic slate is usually in the installation, which on average, can cost about 40 percent less.
Multi-width polymer "slate" in black, about $4.15 per square foot uninstalled; DaVinci Roofscapes