I'm not one to live in the past, but oh, my, do I love lots of old things. I have peppered my home with collections of vintage treasures, family heirlooms and a few antiques because they fill my heart and just make me happy. The secret to decorating effectively with old things, I've found, is to use them sparingly and to mix them with fresh, new pieces so your interior doesn't feel stale or stuffy. Here are six of my favorite old things to have in my home:

1. Transferware

If my house was on fire, I would run back in for my transferware dishes.

A quick snatch of history: Transferware was developed in England in the 1750s as a way to mass-produce dinnerware so it was accessible and affordable for middle-class folks. It's been produced ever since.

If I could, I would have a set in every color imaginable. I use it in my everyday dining to set a beautiful table when I entertain and in decorating.

Hang transferware plates on your wall as art. Put a beautiful bowl filled with apples or lemons at the center of your kitchen island. Prop a platter in an easel and use it as a backdrop for a display in a bookcase. Blue and white transferware steals the show in my friend's light, bright, airy kitchen.

2. Silver

My love affair with silver began when my mother-in-law started giving me a few pieces from her collection as gifts for Christmas or my birthday. (I always knew I was in trouble with her when she gave me Isotoner gloves instead!) I've been collecting vintage silver ever since. It's magical how adding something as simple as a silver bowl, candlestick or tray can take a ho-hum display and send it through the roof.

You can create a simple yet stunning centerpiece for the dining room table just by filling a silver serving dish with flowers and flanking them with a set of charming candelabra. You can't beat silver when it's kept shiny. (It's painless to polish it while you're binge-watching your favorite series on Netflix.) But it's also great with a touch of tarnish if you're going for an aged look in your display.

3. Florals

Florals are crazy hot right now. I am thrilled floral fabrics are back, because I've loved them for years. Today's florals span the spectrum from traditional patterns to transitional and modern.

4. Tole trays

Tole trays, with their romantic designs and rich colors, are perfect accent pieces for your kitchen, living room or bath. Really, they work anywhere in your home. The tole painting process was developed in the 17th century as a way to help protect metal household pieces from rusting. These charming trays have been popular ever since. If you're a collector of fine antiques, expect to pay a bundle for the real deal. But if you want vintage trays from the '40s and '50s, or modern reproductions, you can snag them for as little as $10 on sites like Etsy. I love tole trays hung as art, backing a display in a bookcase, or used as a base of a lovely display.

5. Books

I've often waxed poetic about my love of books. They bring warmth and character to a display, and I use them all over my home when I decorate. They serve as risers, conversation pieces and backdrops. A friend created a tower of tomes to serve as a little side table in her living room.

6. Porch swings

Why did porch swings ever go out of style? There is nothing better to do on a warm summer evening than sit on the porch and swing back and forth as you sip a cold drink, watch the fireflies and talk with friends. Guests always gravitate to the swing on the porch. No wonder: That's where I would be, too.