How to Create a Retro Style Home

Thursday, 10 July 2014

The best thing about retro styles is that they're bold, flexible and easy to tailor to your taste. Whether you want an infusion of '60s colour, the crisp clean lines of '50s design or the flowing, organic approach of the Art Nouveau, there are plenty of ways to give your home some retro flair.

Decide on your theme

Retro is a catch-all term for the design styles of the mid-to-late 20th century that have yet to become antique: and it includes a range of very different looks. Decide which one suits your style and your home before starting to amass your ideas. Not only will it make the final effect much more consistent, but also much more striking.

Contemporary colour schemes

An easy way to get started is to commit to a colour scheme that best represents the era you're trying to emulate. Pale pastels are great for adding depth to a '40s or '50s feel, while burnt oranges and sulphur yellows bring a bold '70s touch to a room.
Keeping the colour scheme consistent across your walls and furnishings makes for design continuity, but that doesn't mean everything has to be painted in the same colours. Painting one wall a bright colour while keeping others neutral brings a retro infusion without being overpowering. Adding blocks of colour to furniture panels, cushion covers or curtains can be equally effective.


A great alternative, particularly with single, statement walls, is a patterned wallpaper. Whether it's the flowing organic designs of William Morris that returned triumphantly into fashion in the '70s, or a geometric, futurist design to accompany your Scandinavian furniture, wallpaper prints are a useful way to tie together your room's retro style.

Period furniture

Buying second hand furniture in vintage stores is a quick and cost-effective route to an authentic look. Ercol coffee tables are rising in value at the moment, and with good reason. Built from high-quality solid wood and bringing an air of period charm, these 20th century design pieces are a great addition to any retro space. Likewise, round plastic egg chairs and later Bauhaus-inspired furniture makes for a stunning '60s feel.


While you don't want your living room to turn into a time capsule, some iconic artefacts of modern design send the right signals. Lava lamps are a clear signal of '60s cool (and they don't contain real lava so your home insurance isn't affected). For '50s kitsch, flying ducks are the benchmark, and for more classy overtones of the age, geometric Scandinavian porcelain designs and sunburst wooden wall clocks scream mid-20th century chic. But to find that piece of retro that's really you, it's worth scouring second hand shops, vintage stores and antique fairs for the perfect piece.

Create focal points

You've chosen your colours and gathered your design icons, now it's time to flaunt them. Use your room layout and lighting, both natural and electric, to create focal points throughout your home.

Whether it's by illuminating a display shelf with spotlights and lamps, placing your stylish coffee table in the centre of a room, or hanging the clock in an eye catching position on an otherwise empty wall, draw attention to your ideas to show off your retro style.

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