What is Retro Design?
The term retro is short for ‘retrospective’ – the definition of the word is to look back. Retro design looks to the past for inspiration. This theme incorporates styles from the 1950s, ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. The retro theme can incorporate items from each of these decades in a single room for the maximum retro effect!
Retro furniture and furnishings can be items made and used in those decades, or alternatively, modern made objects which have been inspired by past designs. Antiques are not the same as retro items – antique usually refers to items which are 100 years old or more. Vintage also differs from retro – vintage refers to items from the 1940s and before.
Retro furniture and furnishings are so fashionable that you can get some great items on the high street. Alternatively, for used items, visit charity shops or market stalls to find some stunning items from the past!
Defining the Decades
The 1950’s was a new era for Britain. The impact of the war of the previous decade was starting to wane. Rationing was abolished and people started to invest in the home. New gadgets, such as the hoover and the toaster were being massed produced for a new and demanding consumer market. People started to splash out on luxury goods and this had a big impact on interior design.
Newly built homes were much smaller than those built in previous decades. This led to a demand for streamlined furniture. Open plan living became fashionable as well as fitted kitchens. Chrome appliances were trendy as well as breakfast bars and breakfast stools. Bold and floral patterns were used to decorate the walls.
This decade ushered in the hippie movement and free love. This decade was all about freedom and expression as those born during or after the Second World War entered into adulthood. The ’60s were also about rebellion and creating a sense of self. This was expressed in interior design too.
Bold colours entered into the home. Psychedelic patterns adorned the walls of the home. Colours were loud and proud. There was a sense of fun and individuality when it came to home furnishings. The sideboard became a popular piece of furniture. And plastic and PVC became more widely used. Huge rugs and beanbags entered the home to enhance the relaxed atmosphere created by this decade.
The disco decade! The 1970s saw mass unemployment but also a rise in living standards for many. Flower power is synonymous with this era and increased freedom of expression. More people began to buy their own homes and wanted to furnish them with built to last furniture. This decade witnessed a move away from sleek furniture to bulkier items.
Again bold fabrics and patterns were used in home furnishings. Avocado green was a popular colour – in all rooms, even the bathroom! Browns, oranges and other earthy colours were used to decorate the walls as well as in home furnishings. Quite often a combination of these colours would be used in the same piece of furniture. Wooden and semi- wooden furniture became increasingly popular and was used to mass produce chairs and tables.
Interior design in this decade was inspired by the art deco movement of the 1920s. Geometric shapes and floral patterns filled the walls. Vibrant colours, in particular, pinks and yellows were popular. Wall to wall carpeting was common as were beige and teal colours. Mirrored furniture became increasingly popular and country style kitchens.
The Use of Colours in Retro Design
Choose colours that are bold and loud. Don’t be afraid to mix colours together too. The brighter the better. Some of the best colours to use would be:
- Avocado green
- Hot Pink
- Bright blue
- Neon colours
- Mustard yellow
Materials to Incorporate in a Retro Inspired Room
Create a retro look by using a combination of materials. Individual pieces of furniture which use a number of different materials fit well with this design too.
Rugs – Chunky materials.
Furniture – Plastic, PVC, wood and semi-wooden, mirrored furniture.
Appliances – Chrome, country style.
Retro Design Patterns
Be bold with your patterns. Use a mixture of influences from the different retro decades to create your own look. Wallpaper or wall art, as well as carpets and rugs and cushions, can be used to incorporate retro patterns into the home.
- Geometric shapes – traingles, circles, squares.
- Floral patterns
Retro Design – Living Room Furniture and Furnishings
Whether you want to create a retro room, or incorporate pieces of retro furniture into an existing decor, here is some design inspiration:
Use mirrored furniture, plastic or wooden pieces to create a retro design in the lounge.
Go for colourful chairs and sofas. Use a range of different materials to create the retro look!
Geometric shapes are a great pattern to use on curtains to bring that retro feel into any room. Go for retro colours, such as mustard yellow or earthy colours to really set off the room!
Think bold patterns, bright colours and geometric shapes when choosing a rug.
When it comes to wall art, the funkier the better! Think bright colours and unusual patterns. Unique pieces of art and geometric shapes.
If you’d like to incorporate some retro design into your home without going the full mile, cushions are a great way to achieve this look. Again use bright and bold patterns and colours.
I’m always changing the ornaments and accessories in my lounge. It’s a great way to bring a new and fresh design into the home without spending too much or going to too much effort. I love these suitcases! They are a great way to add some storage space to the room in a stylish way.
When kitting our your retro themed room, don’t forget to be bold, experiment and to let your personality shine through your design!
For more interior design inspiration, browse my interiors category.