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Using Vintage Menus As Decor

I  have a thing for pretty menus. Maybe it’s because I’m a fan of fonts and graphic design, but I notice menus in restaurants and have acquired a few of them as keepsakes over the years (the non-take out versions, that is). You may recall this one that I’ve shared from the Impudent Oyster Restaurant in Chatham, MA (Cape Cod) – a favorite spot we visit each summer. I framed and hung it in my foyer. Is this menu cover and back not the cutest??

I have long thought that a couple of interesting framed menus would be cool artwork for a dining room.
My friend B and I came up the idea to get a menu from the restaurant Mark & I went on our first date to, but lo and behold, the restaurant, Joe Tecce’s in Boston, has closed. An online search commenced for an old Joe Tecce’s menu, but I was out of luck.

I did, however, discover about a million vintage menus on the site that everyone in blogland has been talking about over the past year – the New York Public Library Digital Gallery. Have you visited? This site is chock full of amazing FREE printable images. A search for “menus” brings up 10,138 options to choose from! Here is a sampling of some the interesting menus I found:

HMS Good Hope, USS Louisiana, 1907

Steamship Northwest, 1898

Revere House – Boston, 1851

I decided on a grouping of menus for a small wall in my dining room. I chose menus from cities that we are fond of or have meaning to us, and also were just cool and intriguing, and here they are!

The top two frames are the menu and cover from a restaurant on Sanibel Island, Florida, where we love to vacation. There was no date on this menu but judging by the font and the art on the cover, I am guessing it’s from somewhere in the 1950s-60s. Check out these drink prices! 60 cents for a glass of wine??? How’s that for inflation?

The middle frame is from a hotel restaurant in Sicily, where my father-in-law’s family hails from, dated March 1, 1900. I imagine Scibilias hosting a wedding here or visiting this restaurant for a special occasion, in a time when eating out was not commonplace for regular folks! I wonder if my great-grandparents-in-law ever ate at a fancy restaurant in their whole life!

The bottom set is from a New York City restaurant, with this lovely picture of “La Riviera Lagure” on the cover.

The date?

This little vignette in the corner of my neutral dining room makes me happy. A bit of color, interest and meaning to bring this space to life.

Do you spy something else new in my dining room? Curtains are up, though not 100% finished (do I ever finish a project 100%??)  In the near future I hope to have them finished and show you how the room is coming together. (I am still on the fence about the plate grouping, in case you’re wondering!)

While I’m moving ever-so-slowly with this room, sometimes slow is good if it means that you ultimately love the outcome. How about you? Do you decorate a whole room at once or in bits and pieces over time like me?

I hope you’ll join me tomorrow to link up a project idea for the summer edition of Before & After! I’m hoping to squeeze in a few projects amidst summer fun and am guessing you are too!

See you then!

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Sunday 9th of September 2012

Your dining room is lovely. What color paint do you have on the wall?

Cris Angsten

Friday 8th of June 2012

What a neat idea! Somehow I missed that New York library memo, glad you filled me in!

Urban Orchard Interiors

Friday 8th of June 2012

Lisa I love this idea! Genius! I am going directly over to NYPDL link and check it out. Love it!


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Friday 8th of June 2012

I'm a bits and pieces girl as you can imagine.

And I love LOVE this crazy awesome idea of menus! What absolute fabulousness. Well, dang. Now I want my dining room turned music room back.

pam {simple details}

Friday 8th of June 2012

Love your idea, so cool you found some with a personal connection! Did you make the draperies for your dining room, I LOVE them! I may have to copy them, please?! I think I remember linking up dining room for your first party, was that at the beginning of the year? :)