Adopting a ‘retro’ style is all about imitating or recreating styles from past recent decades. In terms of what you can do to create this kind of look, the options are really quite broad. You may choose to focus on particular features and items from one era, such as the 70s, or if your taste is more general you might want to mix and match.
Here are six things you can do to give your interiors an instant retro vibe.
1. Embrace color and prints
Nothing screams ‘retro’ like bold colors and prints. You can include them in your wallpaper, your furniture, your accessories and your drapes. It’s a good idea to have a color scheme in mind, so it doesn’t look like a rainbow crashed into your home. This range of 130 retro color palettes will give you tons of inspiration, from soft tones to dazzling brights.
2. Mix old and new
One of the fun things about incorporating retro pieces in your home is mixing them with modern counterparts. You could pair an embellished antique lamp with a minimal white shade, modern art with a gilded frame, or an ancient dresser with a contemporary vase. Don’t feel you must stick 100 percent to one style of furnishing – variety will keep things interesting.
3. Pick a visual theme or decade
Having a theme can help you to narrow down your tastes and choices to create a look that is more cohesive. For example, if you really like natural materials, you can seek out quality aged items made from wood, wicker or stone. Or if you’re strongly drawn to the interior fashion of say, the 50s, you can make a clear impression using bright, lively accessory colors, clean lines and geometric shapes – and leave the groovy 60s wallpaper to one side.
4. Look for statement pieces
A lot of the retro movement is about reinvigorating big, bold, one-off pieces from the past. Flea markets, thrift and secondhand stores are some of the best places to find such items. You must attend with an open mind, as you never know what you might come across. It might be a huge gilded mirror, an antique radio, a classic corded phone, an oversized lampshade, a jukebox or a typewriter. Or it might not – part of the fun is in seeing what you find.
5. Craft and upcycle
Sometimes, the best retro pieces are hiding – under a garish coat of slapped-on paint, a layer of gathering dust or a collection of rugs and chinaware. When you go out searching for furniture and interior accessories, try to see the potential in older items. That set of drawers may look drab right now, but imagine if each drawer was repainted and the handles replaced with quirky alternatives? The internet is brimming with genius ideas to upcycle and enliven your finds.
6. Showcase your style
Whatever kind of visual theme you are trying to achieve in a room, make sure it feels like you. If you don’t love something, why have it? As William Morris said, “have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”. If you’re going for a retro look, why not find fun old-fashioned frames to display your photographs, and mix them up with some vintage art prints? Be sure to have all your favorite things out on display so you will see them often – on shelves, in display cabinets, up on the wall and boldly incorporated as a feature of the room.
In a nutshell, be bold. Mix things up. Don’t buy all of your furniture at one store. Think about the overall effect and display beautiful old-fashioned things that you love. Have fun and see the hidden potential in used objects – but don’t be afraid to add a splash of modernity too.
Was this article helpful? What else would you add? What are your favourite retro styles and why? Let us know.
By Hollie Jones
Hollie is a freelance writer and lifestyle blogger based in New Jersey. She is a thrift store fanatic and lover of all things interior-design related. Read more of her work at her blog, The Hollie and The Ivy.