15 Functional Decor Ideas for Your Home

Nothing makes a home feel cozier than a few intentional touches of decor. The best kind of decor you can use in any home, in my opinion, is functional. I’ve got a list of 15 functional decor ideas for your home to help add that charm without sacrificing purpose.

vintage dining chair with a dark green velvet pillow and vintage quilt hanging over the side of an arm.

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The Definition of Functional Decor is to have more than one use, to be beautiful, and to be useful.

I love beautiful things, I think we all do. But what I love even more than that is being intentional about choosing items that are beautiful, but also have a function in my home.

This is such a simple concept. And once you start paying attention to the details of your home you will find a million ways to incorporate them thoughtfully.

It comes down to the details in every space. Anything you use can be something you also think is beautiful if you’re taking the time to make it so.

Two vintage soup tureens that I repurposed into planters sitting on a vintage dresser. A dozen brass candlesticks sitting on the top. A vintage painting on the wall.

There is no one specific style to maintain when aiming for functional decor ideas for your home

There are certain styles like minimalism (or modern style) with clean lines, that aim for multifunction in pretty much every facet. But I don’t buy into the idea that you have to love Scandinavian minimalism to incorporate functional decor ideas throughout your home spaces.

I believe it can be achieved in literally all different styles. The doors are wide open for us to choose beautiful things and even repurpose items to make them useful for us.

If Decor in Your Home Isn’t Working Try Approaching It Differently

Maybe you’re like me and have some very cherished beautiful items that don’t currently serve a purpose.

This is a perfect time to problem solve to find a way these items can become useful in your home. I recently did a post all about Repurposing Vintage Dishes into Planters where this was the case for me.

An assorted display of repurposed vintage dishes into planter pots, functional decor at it's finest.

I had all of these gorgeous dishes and many that, honestly, I would probably never use. Like Vintage Soup Tureens that had no lid, I purchased them on purpose with a different idea in mind.

On the Other Hand, Sometimes an Item is Useful but it doesn’t Fit Your Style

Take a moment and really think about the items and see if there isn’t some way you can make them purposeful in your home again before deciding on their fate. Even if you have to make small changes or adjustments to their appearance.

In the case of my drink dispenser and Dish Racks that are galvanized steel, they don’t work in my dining space. That gives me the option of either moving them to another room or simply adjusting their appearance to fit their current useful space.

Watch this on Youtube:

15 Functional Decor Ideas Throughout Your Home – Not Room Specific

Most of these items can be incorporated into more than one room of your home. Think outside of the box!

Let’s discuss these beautiful yet functional items with this list of 15 functional decor ideas. I’ve come up with and hopefully, you will find some inspiration!

01 Baskets

Wire or Woven

Big and Small, Different Shapes, and even Picnic Baskets

One Decor Item that’s a great way to ensure beautiful storage bins.

The #1 item in a list of functional items for a few very good reasons.

  • They add texture to a room.
  • Literal functional art if you store them on a wall while not in use.
  • The natural wood tone compliments a neutral color or even a bright paint color.
  • Multi-functional home decor at its finest, they can store practically anything including food on your kitchen island or counter.

There are certain items in our home that simply need a home themselves. In small spaces, storage solutions can be tricky sometimes. And if you ask for my opinion I think most storage containers are downright ugly.

They’re fine for inside drawers, like acrylic or plastic, but not out in the open. I prefer the natural texture of baskets. They bring an added warmth to the entire room.

If given the choice to store items between a dollar store bin or a thrifted basket I will undoubtedly pick the latter every single time. And when you pick up the perfect secondhand baskets I have a few tips to help you clean it!

02 Dishes

Vintage or Vintage Inspired

Intended Purpose or Repurpose

I feel often that there is this illusion that Vintage dishes are unapproachable because they’re delicate. They’re historic and charming, so let’s find useful ways to incorporate them into our homes.

Beautiful dishes are very versatile when it comes to functional purpose and decor. Here are a few ways you can use them besides the intended purpose with food.

Three vintage ironstone ornate pitchers displayed on my dining room shelves. These beautiful pieces are useful in more than one way making them a great candidate for functional decor.
  • Hang them on a wall as a gallery. They make a lovely, delicate, and feminine statement of wall art.
  • Store them as a display in a vertical space like open shelves, stacked, or in a vintage dish rack.
  • Repurpose them as a planter for indoor real or faux plants. Create a beautiful vintage indoor garden on your kitchen counter. You could use a small pot made of copper, brass, or even ceramic dishes like Pfaltzgraff.
  • Use them as a unique storage container for items better left unseen like office supplies, etc.

We already all use dishes so this is an easy way to make an impact in your home. The nice thing about many of these additional uses is they can also be temporary. Therefore if you’re wanting to use them for a meal you can wash and use them for that purpose!

03 Vintage or Antique Utensils

Ornate Silver Plated or Hand Carved Wooden

Serving Spoons, Spatulas, Potato Masher, Rolling Pins, Cake Server, Butter Knife, Salt and Pepper Shakers, Etc.

A perfect pairing of function and beauty. I have a mixture of both and love and use both. I am still on the hunt for the perfect ornate silver set, complete with the original box.

I’ve been on the hunt for a long time. I know it’ll be one of those amazing finds and I’ll rejoice at the end of the long journey. Have you ever felt that way about thrifting?

These are such gorgeous decorative pieces, especially paired with a vintage crock displayed in different areas. They almost do double duty.

I can’t wait to create a complete vintage dining room table display for a fancy meal. Kitchen items definitely don’t have to stay in the kitchen in my opinion. I often display them in my dining room as well.

04 Vintage Lighting

Wired and Plugin

Ceiling Fixtures, Sconces, Table Lamps, & Floor Lamps

We don’t all have homes flooded with natural light. So, we have to supplement with some type of fixture. They can be beautiful and functional.

Here are a few benefits of using Vintage Lighting:

  • They add a unique look to your living space while continuing to serve their purpose as light.
  • They’re a great use of wall space by adding light and beauty. Some of the ornate vintage fixtures are really a work of art.
  • Used fixtures are budget-friendly! If you find an ugly one that’s been previously painted you can spray paint it for an updated look. Or maybe the finish is tarnished, simply clean it with bar keepers friend and fine steel wool.

Just because they’re #4 on my list of functional decor ideas for your home, doesn’t mean they aren’t equally as important.

They don’t even have to be expensive. I recently purchased a few vintage brass lamps from thrift stores. One was $5 and another was $3.

The floor lamp may need to be rewired, but that’s an easy fix. It’s solid brass and will look absolutely spectacular next to my vintage sitting chairs. Just another decorative element that is useful.

And if you find the perfect vintage brass light fixture that needs a little cleaning I have a few tips to make it shine again.

05 Candles or Vintage Oil Lamps

Add a real sense of vintage flare (pun intended)

Buy them used in flea markets, thrift stores, and the FB marketplace. Or find them brand new at Hobby Lobby!

If you want to add a sense of romance and a little extra light to your home at night look no further.

I had the hopes of purchasing a few vintage ones from my usual sources, but when I looked I saw they were around the $40-60 mark and I was not about to spend that.

I’m a frugal-minded person and that’s just not in my budget. I found mine pretty inexpensively at Hobby Lobby, but here are a few reasons I purchased mine:

  • Excellent Emergency Lighting options, while providing a seriously beautiful vintage presence. If our power fails, we are set.
  • Their light in the evening evokes images of the 1800s in the evening hours sitting and reading a book. In other words, they’re romantic fodder for my imagination.
  • They have the added benefit of being extremely inexpensive lighting options.

One big difference between candles and oil lamps are

  1. Oil lamps require oil (so be sure to buy a few containers while you’re at it)
  2. Oil lamps are pretty mess-free when they burn

If you want to get that look I found a few beauties on amazon that are beautiful representations of vintage.

Brass candlesticks are by far my favorite kind to collect, but every now and then I gather a few that need more than a simple wipe-down. I’ve got a few natural cleaner tips to help you if you’re in a similar situation!

06 Beautiful Rugs

Vintage Wool or Faux Vintage

For vintage or antique check all the usual pre-owned avenues. For new rugs, I have had great success with Amazon.

Adding rugs to your rooms really helps to define the space from the rest of the room. In open-concept homes, this can be really useful to create “stories” in each room.

What I mean is, wherever the rug is, gathers your attention to the specific purpose of that space. Like, you can put a 4×6 rug with two sitting chairs and a table between for a conversation spot.

Red and navy decorative rug in my dining room under my vintage table. Farmhouse shelves filled with vintage dishes to the right. A great example of functional decor.

A few reasons you should buy and use rugs as functional decor are

  • They are amazing to walk on vs a cold hard floor like tile or even hardwood.
  • Rugs can spare your room carpeting from stains and wear and tear, or even hardwood from damage.
  • The additional colors and textures can solidify a good design and color palette.

Or how a 9×12 rug in a family room can just emphasize the coziness of the space and draw you in like warm hugs. I may be exaggerating, but you can see it, right? Comfy floor space makes my kids happy who often play on the floors in our home.

I’ve heard that you should pick a rug out first, but honestly, furniture always comes first in my home as I’m buying it used and the market isn’t overly saturated for victorian type furniture.

This is the rug we used in our dining room.

07 Pillow Covers

DIY Sew, Purchase New, or Covers Made From Repurposed Materials, etc.

The benefit of buying covers for your throw pillows are many, here are a few

  • They take up minimal storage space.
  • The added benefit of being easy to switch out for seasonal changes.
  • Easy to buy a few to accent as seasonal decorative items to pair with your everyday neutrals.
  • Have a way of making a room look complete.
  • The best way to ensure you’re keeping your pillows freshly cleaned is to rotate them periodically.
Vintage dining chair with a pillow, the pillow cover is from ikea and is one of my favorites. It is grey but has colors of mustard and orange as well in a Scandinavian design.

I personally love the pillow covers from Ikea as well as their 20×20 pillow inserts with down-alternative. But I also have a couple of handmade pillow covers that I think are beautiful.

My absolute favorite covers are the embroidered ones, but they’re not cheap! And don’t wash super well. Still, they’re a cherished item here.

The best part about pillow covers is they’re super easy to make! I recently did a few projects with literally the simplest envelope pillowcases. One particular favorite was created using repurposed linen tablecloth.

08 Blankets

Linen, Cable knit, or my favorite, Quilts

There is a theme here, I typically find my blankets at thrift stores, but they sell some very beautiful inexpensive options at Ikea.

vintage dining chair with a dark green velvet pillow and vintage quilt hanging over the side of an arm.

Blankets are magical, to adults and children alike. They can make forts, and picnics or they can create a cosie spot on the couch while you read a book.

For me, linen and vintage quilts are my choice of blankets. Quilts are great in summer and winter, I’m not sure how they manage to do it. They’re cool in summer and warm in the winter.

This is definitely my pick for the most comforting item of the functional decor ideas for your home.

09 Containers

Glass Mason Jars as Storage, Ceramic Crocks, & Pitchers

Laundry Room, Living Room, Coffee Table, Kitchen Island, Family Room, Etc.

Just imagine the beautiful vintage look of a candy shop, soda fountain, apothecary, or general store. And that style is where I gain my inspiration for my pantry and kitchen open shelves, etc.

Two vintage style glass storage containers sitting in my vintage inspired wooden bread bowl as a centerpiece on my table. These are just two examples of many glass jars I use as storage containers in my own home.

Beautiful simple containers on display full of varying foods, spices, grains, dried beans, baking supplies, etc. A few reasons pro-vintage-style storage containers are

  • Easy manageable visual inventory. You can always tell when you’re running low or are completely out of something.
  • As long as you’re using the food regularly or they have an airtight lid, food typically lasts longer in glass containers.
  • There is something beautiful in the simplicity of clear glass or the handmade appearance of ceramic crocks or pitchers.
  • These containers are definitely better for the earth and our bodies as they don’t add to the growing problem of plastics. So, definite health benefits.

10 Mirrors

Antique, Vintage, Faux Vintage

Wooden or Metal, Differing Metals, and Styles

Since I love Alice in Wonderland it is pretty logical that I would also love mirrors, or “looking glass”.

An ornately carved wooden mirror that sits hanging on a wall in my dining room, a statement piece of functional decor.

Reasons you should use Mirrors as functional decor in your home

  • Reflect natural light to create well-lit rooms or a fun illusion of a larger space.
  • Add an element of a beautiful one-of-a-kind crafted artwork. Most antique mirrors aren’t found in pairs.
  • You can look at yourself and ensure you don’t have anything weird going on before you leave the house. A real commodity for me.

Did you know that you could make mirrors? Take any old glass and turn it into a beautiful mirror using special mirror spray paint and a few techniques.

Mirrors as a decorative element have been around for literal centuries. A thing of fairy tales and grandeur. One of my favorite mirror makeovers to date was on this beautifully ornate $5 thrift mirror.

11 Frames

Vintage or Antique, Wooden or Metal, Simple or Ornate

To hold pictures, illustrations, and vintage prints. Or repurpose it as a chalkboard, whiteboard, bulletin board, or a mirror.

Some people like all matching frames in a gallery. For me, I prefer an eclectic mix of unique fancy frames. I vary the styles and material, but I keep them vintage or antique to gain that sense of history that I value.

Functional decor ideas for your home wouldn’t be complete without frames on the list. Though they have some really good faux options out there, today.

Get some art or family portraits up on the walls.

Gather a handful of frames and fill them with things that make you smile when you see them. This is a great way to turn a blank slate into a carefully curated gallery.

12 Pots & Pans

Cast Iron, Copper, or Stainless Steel

There are some beautiful modern lines of pots and pans out today that definitely deserve recognition for their style and function.

A set of thrifted Vintage copper pans that sit in an antique drawer on my dining room shelves.

There really isn’t anything that brings as much ease to the kitchen as ensuring your tools are right within your arm’s reach. No bending over to get them out of a low cabinet or storage space issues.

I wish my kitchen was large enough to make this feasible. But I plan on hanging them from my kitchen island when I create it.

Vintage kitchens were created with efficiency in mind, modern kitchens in builder-grade homes were made with cheap materials and labor in mind. It isn’t about efficiency at all, just the bottom dollar.

But using our pots and pans as functional decor hanging up frees up surface area and workspace in your kitchen.

13 Light Switch Plates & Outlet Covers

Brass, Aged Bronze, Matte Black, Chrome, Copper, Etc

Match the Metals in the Rest of Your Home for Cohesive Design

You can mix and match certain metals, there are probably rules about this. I chose to use oil-rubbed bronze for all of the hardware for my doorknobs, hinges, sink faucets, shower and tub sets, etc.

The sad and lonely only brass switch plate I currently have in my house. Thrifted brass light switch plate, lovely functional decor. Details make a huge difference in a room.
The only lonely brass switch plate cover I own at the moment. I found it at a flea market for $3. I hope to add to this collection with time.

Light switch plates and outlet covers are one of those details that if you pay attention to them in their own small way they will transform their space. It’s those details that sometimes make the biggest impact.

Obviously larger projects take precedence, but we shouldn’t forget to come back and switch them out. Get it, switch them out? There’s a fun pun for you!

14 Racks

Plate Racks, French Drying Racks, Laundry Dry Rack

Creative Displayed Storage

I can honestly say one of my favorite full-price purchases I ever made for my kitchen was a large wall mount french drying rack and my small countertop french drying rack.

They keep my cups either within easy reach for my kids to access, or very out of the way of their reach. I choose what gets put where naturally.

Another added benefit is these clear out cabinet space which then leaves more functional space for other things. Of course, this means your drinking glasses really need to fall in line with the functional decor ideas for your home.

I custom-made my laundry drying rack from an old Eastlake mirror frame I had laying around. It was a really simple project, but I think it adds so much charm and function to my small laundry space!

15 Furniture

Vintage, Antique, Unique

It’s not just a piece of furniture, it’s a portal to another time when craftsmanship mattered.

All furniture is in fact functional decor, but some of it really does its job well. Maybe you have a lot of books, therefore a tall bookcase could be the answer to your problem.

Or if you want lots of choices, choose a china cabinet and turn it into a bookcase. You can always change your mind.

Or perhaps you are dreaming of hosting a large family get-together, social activities, or the occasional party. In this case, you’d definitely want to look for unique ways to incorporate additional seating.

I would consider vintage folding chairs hung up on the wall. Or a piano stool that doubles as a plant stand.

The king dining room chair, it has arms where the others don't. This is apart of my vintage dining set I purchased at a garage sale. Atop the chair is a green velvet pillow and a vintage quilt.

4 important reasons to use furniture as functional decor in your home

  • 01 Vintage and Antique furniture are actually better made than today’s version of “furniture”, made out of better materials, and built to last.
  • 02 It’s typically less expensive than their “modern” counterparts.
  • 03 They’re far more unique than the big box stores’ versions. Since they were made 50-100 years ago there aren’t many of the same kind. Likely your friend down the road won’t have the same piece.
  • 04 Antique and vintage furniture can be refinished since it’s almost always made of real wood. You can choose a finish now and a decade later, change your mind entirely and it will survive. Try doing that to a pressed wood monstrosity from Target.

Here is an entire post I did on the Do’s and Don’ts when purchasing Antique and Vintage furniture (or just secondhand) to help you get started on your journey!

I hope you loved my 15 functional decor ideas for your home and that you have gathered some inspiration to move forward in creating an efficient and versatilely decorated home!

Thanks for stopping by!


Meet the Author

Hi, I’m Julie! Mother to five beautiful kids, Homeschool Educator, Writer, Handicraft & DIY Enthusiast, Photographer, Thrifter, and Furniture Restorer. Follow along for fun DIY projects creating a handmade home on a budget! Read more about me here→


  1. I love all these! They are simple enough for anybody to do, yet really add some beauty to a room. Pinning this for later!

  2. Great ideas! I recently got a couple of cute wicker baskets for using out in the garden that sit on a shelf in my living room so they’re convenient to grab AND put away. We’re also planning on building a pretty wall to hang my cast iron on in our farmhouse kitchen.

    1. Both sound like beautiful and practical ways to get in that functional decor! I really do love hanging cast iron visibly on the wall. It’s so charming!

  3. What a great post! I love when pieces are not just there for decoration and collecting dust but actually usable!

  4. I’m feeling inspired, now. I might have to go out this afternoon and peruse the local antique mall for goodies.

    1. Oh yes, my favorite thing to do. You find so many unique treasures in places like that. I get inspired trying to think of ways to incorporate stuff into my everyday life, too.

  5. These are great tips. I live in a small apartment so functional decor is a must for us ! Thank you so much for sharing!!!

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