There’s a time and a place for modernity, but if the first half of the year has been anything to go by, 2020 might not be it. Perhaps we’re trying to recreate simpler times, perhaps we’re rediscovering the joys of macramé… whatever the reason, more and more of us are embracing the retro style in our homes. Characterized by bright colors, geometric patterns, and an unashamed love of fun, this is a look that makes a big statement. It’s also surprisingly easy to introduce to your interior. Try adding a bit of mid-twentieth century swagger to your home with these 10 great tips.
1. Go Bright
Plain white walls and neutral furnishings might have their place in the interior design world, but they’ve certainly not something you’ll see too often in a retro-styled room. Color, and especially big, bold, bright colors, are central to the retro vibe, and are a must if you want to carry off the look with panache. Don’t feel you have to pick just one color and run with it – while you don’t necessarily need to make your house look like the inside of a paint box, feel free to mix as many colors as you like, even if you don’t necessarily think they’ll match. The retro look isn’t about making things look overly styled or matchy-matchy, so take the opportunity to let your inner child loose by having fun with a rainbow of different hues.
2. Go Bold
If you really want to embrace the retro look, then get ready to leave your paint cans at the door. Wallpaper is where it’s at, at least in the retro-themed house. And don’t feel you have to limit your pretty papers to the bedroom or living room, either. As plushemisphere.com recommends, try introducing it to rooms like the kitchen or bathroom which you’d normally reserve for paint – you’ll be surprised just how much flair they’ll add.
3. Go Abstract
When it comes to furniture, forget about the clean lines and simple styles of contemporary pieces. Retro pieces have an abstract, bold quality that makes each piece a focal point. Look for sofas that are as broad as they are long (and styled with plenty of bold throws and colorful pillows in geometric patterns, of course). Bar stools are a 70s style necessity for the kitchen, while as The Spruce notes, Mitt chairs and puzzle-piece ottomans are the ideal seating solutions for the living room.
4. Go Textured
Smooth, coarse, shiny, or velvety – if there’s one thing the retro look is about, it’s texture. Turn your interior into a sensory playground by introducing as many different textures as you can. A smooth velvet throw on the bed, brocade curtains, shag carpeting, vinyl seat covers – let your imagination go wild.
5. Go Accessorized
There’s no getting away from it. The retro look is about as subtle as a brick through the window. If you’ve been used to decorating your home with no more than a single flower in a crystal vase, prepare for a change. A big one. If you really want to go retro, you’re going to need to go hardcore with the accessories. Think lava lamps, door beads, macramé, wall tapestries, and anything else that adds a dash of mid-twentieth century glamor. Sculptures and art have their place as well – just make sure you opt for pieces that make a big, bold statement with abstract designs and vibrant colors. And no, you can’t keep the landscape.
6. Go Period
If you want to go full-on retro, look for functional pieces that wouldn’t look out of place in a 1969 Home and Garden magazine. As styleathome.com suggests, abandon the uber-modern sound system for a vintage-looking AM/ FM radio (although don’t worry about compromising on sound quality – look closely and you’ll find plenty of examples on the market that combine retro styling with crystal clear sound and wireless capabilities), and re-introduce yourself to the landline with a classic 746 rotary phone.
7. Go Childlike
Who says kids get to have all the fun? Indulge your inner child by adding a few vintage-inspired toys to your décor. A tin robot, a mini-carousel, a Raggedy Anne doll or two… basically, if it had a place in your childhood (or maybe your parent’s childhood), it deserves a new lease of life in your living room.
8. Go Global
If there’s one thing every kid’s bedroom in the 50s and 60s had, it was a huge map of the world on the wall. These days, you’d don’t have to be learning the capitals of the world (or in fact, have even the slightest hint of an interest in geography) to do the same. A big vintage map makes an interesting, quirky statement – and best of all, it won’t cost you the earth to get your hands on one.
9. Go White and Red
There are certain color combinations that just work… at least from a retro perspective. Avocado green and gold, black and mauve, white and black, black and gold, and, of course, white and red, that magical combination that was the height of chic in the 1970s. To add a big impact in even the smallest of spaces, do as Better Homes and Gardens recommends by adding some cheerful splashes of red against a backdrop of shiny white. Tomato colored butcher block countertops and all-white, high gloss cabinets are suggested for the kitchen, but feel free to use your imagination and take the color scheme to other parts of the house deserving of a little retro glamour.
10. Go Compact
Big, built-in closets and integrated storage solutions might be all the rage these days, but back in the day, people preferred individual pieces – often in styles that, on paper, might have looked disparate, but when seen together, somehow just worked. The one thing that linked all these pieces together was their compact style – forget huge, lumbering pieces and opt for simple, compact pieces that sit slightly lower to the ground than you might be used to.