5 Retro Interior Design Ideas

Are you partial to the way homes use to be decorated in the 50’s, 60, or 70’s? Do you miss your Mom’s shag carpeting or the black and white checkered linoleum floor that you found down at the diner? Then you definitely have a soft spot for a Retro Interior Design! Those once bold and bright colors and stream lined furniture come back to life in a Retro Interior … as the saying goes, “What’s old is new again”!

Choosing to “go Retro” has become a very popular modern day way of interior decorating. The possibilities for transforming your living space to a throwback in time is not only easy, but can be a ton of fun! If you don’t have your own personal memories of the mid-twentieth century, you may want to consider consulting with a professional Retro Interior Designer who will bring you up to speed on this particularly enjoyable way of decorating.

For those who are a bit younger, a Retro Interior Design is now starting to also encompass the design style of the early 1980’s – although a true Retro is generally based on a couple of decades earlier. If you grew up watching the “Brady Bunch”, “Happy Days”, “Welcome Back Kotter”, “Doris Day”, or “Ozzie and Harriet” – or if you can remember juke boxes, Disco balls, doing the “Twist” with Chubby Checker, “American Bandstand”, and the street corner “Tastee Freeze” – then you are in the right period of time.

Retro Designed Family Room by Debra Nashbar

How to “Go Retro”

  1. Find Inspiration: Every design style needs a starting point – finding inspiration and ideas for a Retro Style of design can be quite easy to do, especially with the use of the Internet. Another good source is your local library’s magazine selection. Check out older issues of early 1950’s, 1960’s, or 1970’s magazines – paying special attention to the advertisements as they were promoting all kinds of popular furnishings like living room furniture and appliances. You’ll get a feel for the style simply by paying attention to photo details.
  2. Choose Your Furnishings: During and after World War ll, new materials started to come on the scene which caused a dramatic shift in home decor furnishings. In the Retro period new elements such as Formica and fiberglass were introduced, as well as an increased use of plastics and plywood. Chrome was a major component in furniture pieces and began to show up in accessories, as well. The style of furniture took on a new low lying, abstract shape that usually consisted of clean lines made out of Teak wood or pine.
  3. Colors That Rule: Colors definitely defined the Retro era of design – they were prominent in your carpet, on your walls and everywhere in-between. Color combinations included; turquoise, avocado, mint greens, mustard yellows, candy apple reds, blues, black and white, and the famous orange/rust and brown combo. The mood of the country was bright and hopeful after the war, so the colors in homes began to reflect that disposition.
  4. Accessories are King: For those that enjoy shopping antique malls or flea markets, you’ll fall in love with the Retro period of design. Accessories were prominent especially in kitchens; cookie jars, cute salt and pepper shakers, enamelware, aprons and flour sacks. Clocks were found in every room in odd shapes and sizes due to the influence of the newly arrived space age. Quirky patterns run amok in everything from wall decor to your Dining Room table.
  5. Random Elements to Complete the Design: Here are a few tell-tell signs you have gone Retro: Shag carpeting, avocado colored appliances, black and white checkerboard tiles, red and white metals, bean bag chairs, blow up furniture, round lamp shades, outer space related memorabilia or shaped accessories, vinyl records, incense sticks, and brightly colored artwork – just to name a few.

Retro Comes Forward

There are no rules to Retro, it can even turn a bit Eclectic as long as you stay in the specific time period. You can mix and match decades to match your comfort level or stick with one particular period to replicate that piece of history. Retro is all about going backwards … but with a little research, some sound advice from an Interior Designer, and a passion for a time gone by, you can have the best of both worlds by living in the present – but decorating in the past.

To get a visual of the Retro style of design, as well as checking out other decorating ideas, please visit our Interior Design Ideas and Photos gallery, where you’ll be inspired with every click of the mouse.

When it comes time to seek out a professional designer in your area, you’ll find our interior designer directory is filled with highly qualified design firms ready to help with any of your designing needs.