House Tour : Old Happy Home. Harmony’s Vintage Dream, One Spin at a Time …

By Lee Franklin

This month, we are dedicating both our house tours to the cohosts of Instagram’s #theretroroulette. If you haven’t already come across it, The Retro Roulette is a fun hashtag game in which participants post retro and vintage items based on a randomly chosen weekly theme. I started playing along earlier this year (if you follow us on Instagram, you may have noticed!) and I really enjoy searching my home for things to post, plus it’s great to see the wide selection of items in other people’s homes each week. It really is a genius idea, and a great way to meet fellow vintage lovers … but, I will let Harmony tell you more about it, and it’s origins, later in this post.

I recently contacted the two women who invented this Instagram community to see if they would be willing to share their fabulous vintage homes and unique perspectives on living a retro life, and I was so pleased when they both said yes! SO, this week we are kicking off with Harmony (@oldhappyhome) … and our second house tour in September will be Vanessa (@vintagevspot).

Harmony, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your home?

I live in Chicago with my husband, two small kids, and two dogs. We bought a 1930 brick Chicago Bungalow (my dream house!) in 2012 and that was the basis for me creating my instagram account @oldhappyhome.  When I’m not at my day job or taking care of my kids, I like thrifting, decorating, and pretending I’m a vintage housewife. 

House Tour - Harmony in her vintage kitchen

How long have you been collecting vintage?

 I've been a collector of various stuff for as long as I can remember. I always had a propensity for collecting random things I could find as a kid, such as rocks, and then it turned into stamps, and when I was a teen I got into vinyl records. My mom gave me all of her old records that I remember listening to and playing with when I was a kid. I still have the Elton John record with the song I was named after and my scribbles are on it from when I was a baby! But I think vinyl might have been my gateway to collecting other vintage because when you go to thrift stores to find vinyl you end up finding other stuff. So, it's been almost 20 years now since I started the record collection and now I have hundreds of records ...and a ton of other vintage collections to go with!

House Tour - Harmony's vintage record collection and record player

House Tour - Harmony's vintage TV and suitcase collection

House Tour - Harmony's vintage globe collection

Where does your love of vintage come from?

I think it's just part of having a love for things that look good and are well made. A lot of vintage things are made to last and I don't want to see them thrown out or discarded. When I’m at second hand stores I see so much stuff I want to take home, but I'm trying not to become a hoarder so I'll just get a few things haha! But there's an awe that comes with holding something like an old kitchen utensil and thinking about the hands that held it over the years. I don't want its story to end so I feel the need to honor those items somehow.

House Tour - Harmony's vintage kitchenalia and vintage ephemera

House Tour - Harmony's vintage books and scarves

How would you describe your own vintage style?

It's mostly a random mix. A lot of my decor is thrifted so the style gets dictated by what I find! I really like that randomness to it and that I can represent a lot of different eras in my home and somehow make them blend well. 

House Tour - Harmony's vintage kitchen with pyrex, catherineholm, vintage table and cooker

House Tour - Harmony's chair with vintage crochet throws and corner detail with vintage knick knacks

What is your favourite era / maker?

I'm pretty enamoured by the '50s - '60s. The colors and styles are just so great. I love Cathrineholm, even though I only have two pieces!  

House Tour - Harmony's vintage shelfies with kitcheware, glass, pyrex and enamel

Do you have a criteria for your home décor based on style/era/colour … or is it a gut reaction?

It's mostly a gut reaction, though I feel I have a propensity to be drawn to certain things: like anything vintage kitchen or the color green!  

House Tour - Harmony's vintage style hallway

House Tour - Harmony's vintage style lounge

Do you have a favourite piece in your home?

We have the original 1930 cast iron stove from our house. It was still hooked up to the gas when we moved in! I saved it and turned it into a focal point of my kitchen décor. 

House Tour - Harmony's 1930s cast iron stove

What, if anything, has been your best or favourite find?

I think my whole house is my favorite find! I had wanted to live in an old Chicago bungalow since I was a kid because it was the epitome of Chicago living to me. But my husband and I moved and lived away in other cities/states for many years. Luckily in 2012 my job got transferred back to Chicago and we had the opportunity to move back. The week we moved here this house finally went up for sale after being left empty and uninhabited for six years after its previous owners died. It’s 3 doors down from my parents and was exactly the kind house we were looking for. It all just seemed very serendipitous! We put an offer in immediately and got it!

House Tour - Harmony's house exterior

Is there a specific item that you would love to find but has so far eluded you?

A Mid Century era wood articulating candle holder. I love the look of them, but have never seen one in the wild and they’re a bit expensive online


You have salvaged, restored and upcycled a few vintage items, is this something you are trained in or are you self-taught?

It's self-taught. I hate seeing usable items end up being throw out so I try to re-use them in some way. I taught myself how to use power tools a few years ago and then I felt like sky was the limit on what I could create.

House Tour - Harmony's upcycled suitcase tables

House Tour - Harmony's upcycled projects using vintage items

What has been your favourite renovation/upcycling project?

The faux fireplace we built from scratch last year. My husband actually helped with that one so I can't take full credit! But we designed and built the fireplace and used salvaged wood pieces and tile we found. I think it turned out really good, it's definitely a main focal point of our house now!  

House Tour - Harmony's renovated faux vintage fireplace

Please tell us a bit about #theretroroulette … What is it, when did you start it, and what was the impetus to do so?

The Retro Roulette is a vintage themed hashtag game hosted by myself @oldhappyhome and Vanessa @vintagevspot.  Each week a roulette wheel we’ve created with a variety of themes on it is spun and whatever the wheel lands on is that week’s theme. Themes can be anything from colors, to decades, to specific collections. Anyone can play along and share a pic to fit the theme. 

I first had the idea in summer of 2018, but it took a while to come into fruition. I think at first, I just wanted an excuse to pretend I was a vintage game show girl and wear elbow length gloves and spin a big wheel! It didn't quite go that way though (as it turned out it was rather hard to make a big spinning wheel!) I ran the idea past my friend Vanessa @vintagevspot and it finally turned into what it is today. Vanessa is one of my real-life BFFs and also an incredibly talented and creative person so I love having her as co-host. And, of course seeing what amazing pictures she’s come up for the theme each week!

And side note: the wheel is actually one of my turntables, when I realized I didn’t have to build a wheel from scratch haha! 

House Tour - Harmony uses her vintage record player as a spinner to choose the themes for the retro roulette

I love what it’s become, I’ve met so many fellow vintage collectors, been introduced to vintage items I would have never seen before, and also enjoy the challenge of the themes each week. Even though I write the themes for the wheel myself, I often don’t have anything in mind to share from my own collections so it really challenges me to take a look at what I have and sometimes think outside the box. I hope it’s become a fun challenge to others as well!


 Photo credits: All photos kindly provided by Harmony.


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