I’m sharing my newest collection and how to use vintage handkerchiefs as decor!
I have, not once, in all my years of thrifting, come across a vintage hanky. That has all changed in the past two months. I’ve gone from having zero vintage handkerchiefs to amassing a collection of ten!! These vintage hanky’s have stolen my heart. They are delicate and feminine, infusing the essence of a romantic cottage style. Come see the pretty hanky’s that have made there way into my life and learn how to use vintage handkerchiefs as decor!
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You guys. I don’t know what’s happening. For some reason, people are getting rid of vintage hanky’s left and right and I’m the one finding them all!! Am I mad about it? Not. One. Bit. I never knew I needed hanky’s in my life until I did. I’ve found hanky’s in all the pretty colors. Some made in Sweden, some with floral embroidery and others donning lace and scalloped edges.
Like everything else, I believe these old handkerchiefs found me, I didn’t find them. I’ve been busy figuring out what to do with each of them and have found a few simple ways of displaying hanky’s. Let’s get into it!
Where to Find Vintage Hanky’s
I realize that many of you reading this probably do not have any vintage hanky’s. That’s totally okay! My hope in writing this post is to encourage you to go and find some. So, to start, I wanted to give you some ideas of where you can find vintage hanky’s.
The best place I have found, which also happens to be the most affordable, is at thrift stores! Look all around and in every department. Hanky’s are kind of random items and tend to get lost easily, ending up in weird locations within the store.
I’ve actually pulled most of mine out from boxes that hadn’t even been unpacked yet. I’ve also found a few in the linens department as well as on shelves with other decor. In my experience, old handkerchiefs from thrift stores will cost you less than $2 each.
Other places you can find vintage handkerchiefs include antique or vintage shops and estate sales.
At antique stores, you will most likely see piles of vintage linens and textiles in many different booths. Spend time digging through those piles. I guarantee you will find some! Whenever my husband and I go antiquing and he hasn’t seen me for awhile, he knows I’m probably on the floor digging through linens.
At estate sales, look for the room in the house where they are selling all of the blankets, towels and sheets. In my experience, that room will have the vintage textiles in it as well.
Now that you know where to find vintage hanky’s, let’s put them to good use and decorate with them!
How to Use Vintage Handkerchiefs as Decor
In a Bowl.
A super easy way to use a hanky as decor is to display it in a bowl. Any shallow bowl will work.
All I did was place one end of the hanky in a bowl and let the other end hang out the front.
If the hanky has decorative lace or embroidery work that you want to showcase, fold the hanky in such a way so that the pretty detail is showing.
For example, with the linen hanky below, I folded it in half lengthwise so it made a triangle, then folded both ends in. I was left with the white flowers showing in the front, which is exactly the look I was going for!
In the vintage bowl below, I placed a delicate lace hanky with the prettiest edges I’ve ever seen.
All I did was simply fold the handkerchief in half. This is a no-fuss way to showcase the vintage textile.
To add a bit of height and texture to the display, try placing a book underneath the bowl. Here, I chose a vintage book in a teal color to play off the dark blues present on the bowl.
This is a super easy way to create a vignette in a small space!
Sticking out of a Cup.
Another fun way to arrange an old hanky is by placing it in a small cup, creamer, or sugar dish.
In the kitchen, I thought it would be cute to have this hanky with blue embroidered flowers sitting in one of my vintage copper creamers.
This method not only adds color to this dark shelf but the linen hanky also brings in a soft element, breaking up the metal and wood surfaces.
Another cool thing about decorating with vintage hanky’s is that you can mix and match them.
I paired the blue embroidered hanky with this green one on the same shelf. The two textiles are complementary to each other, creating a shelf display that looks and feels united.
Draped over a Vintage Book.
I have found that, when paired together, vintage books and vintage hanky’s make for a lovely display.
For a minimal yet feminine look on the mantel, I placed a sage green book. Then, I draped a white hanky with scalloped edges over it, making sure that some of the book color could still be seen. The milk glass banana stand filled with Tulips ties the whole look together.
Below, you will see the same mantel display as above, only I swapped the scalloped edged hanky for this lace one.
It’s a little switch yet creates a totally different look!
So, if you are wanting to change up the feel of a space but don’t want to move around all your decor, simply swap or add linens. I promise you will notice the subtle effect!
As Part of a Vignette.
You probably know by now that I love to create vignettes. It’s so satisfying to pack many fun decor items into a small space, creating a story within that display.
Incorporating vintage hanky’s into vignettes helps establish soft layers.
In the hall bath, I like to use this towel rack shelf to display pretty things.
I always choose a color theme, which helps keep things cohesive. The vintage blue and white hanky that you see here was the inspiration for the theme this time around.
I used the hanky as a base layer, creating contrast between the other elements. In a way, having the handkerchief on the bottom helps your head to move in a circular motion, allowing your eyes to slowly move from one piece to the next.
The vignette below was an early Spring display. I utilized a vintage hanky to add a pop of color to the middle of the arrangement.
If your home decor tends to sway more neutral, using a few colorful hanky’s here and there will help create drama and interest.
I hope you found helpful ideas on how to use vintage handkerchiefs as decor! These old textiles are such treasures. Vintage hanky’s exude an old-world charm and tell stories ages old. By using and incorporating old handkerchiefs within your existing decor, you are infusing that charm into your home. Be encouraged to continue to tell the story of old things, giving them a new life.
Leave me a comment! Do you have any vintage hanky’s? How do you use them? I love hearing from you!
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Other Vintage Decorating Posts
- White Hutch Decor Ideas for Spring
- Spring Tray Decor with Vintage Jadeite
- Simple Spring Home Decor Ideas
I love how you’ve displayed your lovely hankies, Rachel. It’s such a charming custom. Kleenex really changed how ladies carried them in their purses as a matter of fact. Maybe not as convenient but much more personable. I love the lacy edges that are works of art in the older ones, and the fun graphic embroidery of the 40’s and 50’s. Such a fun post near Mother’s Day.
Thanks so much!! I know..they don’t just remind you of simpler times?? They have been so much fun to find and I look forward to finding more!! Thanks for stopping by today…have a great weekend ahead!
I’ve also recently discovered the beauty of hankies. They add so much softness and style to vignettes. Thanks for thinking to write about them and all your great ideas.
You are so welcome! Oh yay..that’s so fun!! They do…I’m just in love with how they look and the best part is I can use many of them year round! I’m so happy you found encouragement here today…thank you so much for the lovely comment. I appreciate it!!
Love, love, love these vintage hankies, Rachel! Especially, the one with the forget-me-knots because it’s one of my all-time favorite flowers. They really do add such a soft layer to your home decor and would be so special to frame too! Hugs, CoCo
Thank you!!! I’m so happy you enjoyed it. It’s been so much fun finding these pretty things!!
Oh wow, love all those vintage hankies you have here. So much beauty
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How can anyone go wrong when these little cuties are $2 each??? You did a great job creating charming vignettes with these hankies. I love all the embroidery on them. Fabulous job Rachel.
Thank you!! These are SO much fun to find!!!
Collecting items can be so fun! I really enjoyed seeing your collection of hankies! I love how you paired them with the different colors of vintage dishes you own! So pretty! Now whenever I see a vintage hankie I know I’ll think of you!
Thanks, Donna!! That’s so sweet of you!!