Eat & Drink

November 21, 2013

Mix nature and vintage objects to create unique holiday decor

Urban Mining owners Susan Hartnett and Heather London share their tips for using vintage items in your holiday decor.

Two years ago, Susan Hartnett and Heather London bought the Urban Mining vintage market at 3923 Main St. and expanded it to encompass two floors, 10,000 square feet and 42 dealers. With the holidays around the corner, the two are busy pulling out the silver and crystal and decorating the aluminum Christmas trees.

They’re also full of tips and suggestions for how to use vintage in your holiday decor.

Why use vintage for the holidays?


It allows you to be outside the box and use your own creativity. And you can mix and match; for instance, you could mix bark and sycamore branches with mercury glass and crystal.


It also allows you to incorporate your own family heirlooms, say, that treasured piece of Grandmother’s that doesn’t fit into your regular decor; you can add affordable vintage pieces to create an entire look. And it’s very simple to change from fall to the holidays; just switch out the fall foliage for evergreens.

And what do you mean by affordable?


At Urban Mining, we like to provide the best value for the item you want. It may not be cheap, but for some things, if you tried to replace them new, they could run into hundreds of dollars. You can get them for a lot less here.

We designed one table by combining vintage silver and crystal for an elegant, dressy look. All of the items range from $5 to $50. The crystal bowl is $50; at a high-end antique store it would be $200.

Quality is an important factor here.


People are drawn to things that have history and quality. Our generation and the younger generation have grown up with the made-in-China, disposable concept.


Our business is founded on the opposite of that. We luxuriate in the quality of the items we find. There’s something special about using and living with items of extraordinary quality that you can’t find at Hobby Lobby.

What are your tips for using vintage in table settings?


We often mix naturals and vintage; the natural elements are as close as your own backyard.


I created a rustic fall table using antique sulfur water bottles from the 1920s that came from Excelsior Springs. I combined them with acorns and bittersweet berries, antlers, tree branches and antique apothecary bottles. I also used slices of wood we call “tree cookies.” (To see photos of these tablescapes, go to


I also recommend using unexpected items in unexpected ways. In one of our arrangements we used a sewing drawer to hold fruit and also incorporated a wire basket that was meant to be used outdoors. In another we used a beautiful old wood belt pulley for a tractor wheel.

You’ve done a midcentury modern table setting to inspire people who want something a little more contemporary.


The dishes are by (the well-known industrial designer) Eva Zeisel. They’re part of her Town and Country collection that includes her “Shmoo” salt and pepper shakers. The silverware is vintage French. Those blue “rocks” are slag glass remnants, a byproduct of making bottles, and we’ve used glass star candleholders as accents. For punch we’ve used old sign card letters as place markers.

So how can people take advantage of all your finds?

Heather: We’re open every First Friday weekend, Thursday through Sunday. The hours and details about the holiday events are posted on our website,


Susan: We also have two special events planned: we’ll be open on Black Friday and Saturday, and then we’re doing a special holiday weekend on Dec. 13 and 14, with wine, cookies and spiced cider. We’ll have lots of Christmas items and lots of vintage holiday gifts. You can select a gift based on someone’s interests, something specific and treasured that can’t be replicated.

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