Decorating with family finds

How to mix vintage treasures with your own upbeat style

Meg Mateo and her husband Marvin Ilasco

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Home decorating with vintage finds

"I love that when friends visit our home, they immediately get a sense of who we are—from pillows on the couch to the collections on the bookshelves,” Meg Mateo Ilasco says of the interior of her midcentury bungalow that was once devoid of personality.

Meg and her husband, Marvin, craved a home that reflected who they are—a designer and a scientist, both with Filipino heritage and an affinity for bold color. So, in a stroke of thrift and genius, Meg and Marvin raided their parents’ attics to uncover hidden treasures.

See how they mixed these family finds with their own upbeat style.

Living room

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Chapter 1: Living room 

Meg anchors with Danish pieces, like this bookshelf unit, because of their well-made, classic forms. The 1960s unit displays Meg and Marvin’s ceramic and glass collections.

Meg adds personality to the room with one of her whimsical pillow designs—this one reads “nap,” twice (

The circa 1970s Philippine rattan chairs (from Meg’s mom’s collection) were revived with new cushion fabric.

Master bedroom

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Chapter 2: Bedroom

Typically drawn to bold blocks of color, Meg and Marvin tried a wallpaper pattern in the bedroom ( Because the bedroom is at the end of a hallway, this design serves as a focal point.

The salvaged horse lamp was given new life with a shade from Anthropologie. Bibles from Meg’s collection mingle with one that belonged to her grandparents.

Dining room

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Chapter 3: Dining room 

“Maybe it’s because we’re children of the ’70s, but we’re drawn to that era and colors that defined it,” says Meg of her orange pendant lamp from Design Within Reach. The blue rug adds a pop of pattern and is also durable and kid-friendly. (Rug no longer available, similar bold prints from; FL/Y pendant in orange, $293;

Meg and Marvin love the Swedish dining set—an estate-sale find—because of the angled chair forms. The stereo cabinet has been refashioned into a bar.

A macramé planter and ceramic pot were made years ago by Meg’s mother, who instilled the importance of craft and creativity in Meg. Posters from the 1950s and ’60s are made modern by framing them in white.

Next: Ideas for telling your own story

Update your own heirlooms

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Using your own heirlooms

Be inventive. If you like the shape of an old piece, hold on to it until inspiration strikes, Meg advises. This dresser in Lauryn and Miles’s room was Meg’s when she was a child.

She updated the handles with a coat of yellow spray paint.

Mix generations of heirlooms

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Mix generations

In Meg’s entryway, a gallery of four generations of family photos mingle with a thrift-store lamp, a Philippine rattan pot turned umbrella holder, Marvin’s wooden molecule ball set, and a console table from CB2 (Peekaboo clear console, $349; 

The moral of this story: Make sure your rooms have something to say—that they mean something to you.

Using antiques

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Use antiques in unexpected spaces

When renovating the bathroom, Meg and Marvin found this cabinet at a salvaged-building-materials outlet.

“Old furniture has so much more personality and historical interest,” says Meg. “Not to mention it’s often more affordable and durable.”


Terrarium and beakers

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Bring work home 

A molecule sculpture and vintage beakers are on tabletops in the living room since Marvin is a scientist.

Meg’s terrarium designs are also sprinkled throughout the house.


Personal art

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Choose personal art

Like framed family photos, artwork should be meaningful. Here are four pages from a Japanese wood block–printed calendar—a month for each family member’s birthday.

Printed from: