It’s clear the mid-century trend is back with a vengeance. Clean lines, organic shapes and timeless sophistication… it’s a style we can’t get enough of. But did you know it has a groovy twin? Colourful, kitschy and oh-so-cool, the retro interior design style takes inspiration from the later mid-century — the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. Defined by an eclectic mix of themes with a kaleidoscope of colours, it’s all about sumptuous velvet sofas, swinging basket chairs, furry bean bags and leopard ottomans. If you’re looking to transform your pad into a vintage cool retro retreat, don’t be shy… be groovy, baby.
1 Cool vintage and Art Deco elements
2 Vibrant colour palette
3 Curvaceous and oversized
4 Mix of old and new
5 Flower power or monochromatic geometric patterns
Creating a cool vintage retro retreat is very much a harmonious balance between old and new. ‘Less is more’ is a code to live by as you update your digs — you want to create a sense of the ‘60s and ‘70s without having your every corner of your interiors ablaze with disco balls. Kitsch and cool can coexist!
As with an interior design theme, styling isn’t about exact replication of an era — like the set of The Brady Bunch. Getting the look you love is about plucking out the elements you adore from that style and weaving them into your own interior and contemporary requirements. Retro is such a fun and playful style and gives you the freedom to really get creative. Mix gorgeous new pieces with cool vintage finds, like a rotary telephone, lava lamp or 1970s box TV to upcycle as a bookshelf or — dare we say it? — fish tank!
When you picture the bright colours of the ’60s and ’70s, it tends to bring to mind images of the truly garish, like a psychedelic nightmare or the inside of Austin Powers’ bedroom. But retro colours should be incorporated as accents and anchors. Think, for instance, a neutral space with a striking velvet sofa in aspen gold or forest green to hint at the theme, yet without hijacking the space. A large floral rug, plush armchair or vibrant work of art will work to do the same — select some stunning statements reminiscent of the era.
Alternatively, instead of embracing the full psychedelic spectrum of colours, create a subtle sense of the ’70s with some muted pastels, or some accents pieces, like cushions and ottomans.
Barefoot and daisy-chained, the flower power theme is a very pretty part of the retro look. If you like the fresh feels that florals bring to an interior, add some accents like cushions, a rug, ottoman, print or botanical pet bed to pamper the pooch or puss.
On the flip side, as this style draws from a spectrum of eras, if florals aren’t your thing, go for pop art or geometrics instead. Taking influence from the Art Deco era, the mid-century saw a design revolution. On-vogue monochromatic and geometric patterns, colours and schemes were the height of sophistication and are still timelessly elegant today. This branched off into the Andy Warhol pop art prints will all know and love (or hate?). For a classic look, focus on a few key pieces, like an artwork, side table or rug. Or to give it a little more groovy, be daring with an eclectic mix of abstract patterns, textures and lighting options. You don’t have to spend a fortune — select a few key pieces and pair them with vintage finds.
A time of newfound wealth and freedom, the 1960s and ‘70s were also know for sumptuously oversizing things — like sofas, pendant lighting and wall art. But, again, you don’t need to go overboard. A few well-selected key pieces will create a focal point in your retro interior design, while offering comfort and practicality. Contrasting materials is very retro chic, like a timber dining table with form-fitting plastic chairs or exposed interior stone with a velvet or floral sofa. And what retro interior is complete without at least one thick shagadelic rug! Yeah baby…
We’ve got plenty more retro interior design ideas in-store and online to get your home looking vintage cool. And don’t miss our story on mid-century modern if you prefer a more classic and subdued aesthetic — it’s the sensible mid-century twin who went to architecture school instead of Woodstock.