In this day and age, when globalization seems to take over our lives, the way we think, the way we dress and speak, it has become increasingly important to maintain some uniqueness, to have a real identity, something to set you apart from the rest. It may seem like a reiteration of superficiality, but in fact we all need to work on the external and material as well in order to preserve a bit of individuality. One way in which this can be achieved is through home decoration; the home is your little nest where you evade from the worries and responsibilities of daily life, and where you can finally be yourself. An interesting decor style to play with if you want to express your ideas and personality is the retro style; although by definition it means borrowing from older styles, the originality comes from the fact that you can combine elements as you wish.
When saying retro, we refer to decorating styles ranging from the 1950s through the 1970s; anything older than that is vintage style, and anything newer is considered rather unfashionable, because these styles still persist in some areas, or with some people. In any case, the retro style is daring, colorful, and even over-the-top. The easiest way not to go wrong is by turning your attention towards color schemes and textures synonymous with the 60s. The decor of this era was further influenced by the time’s mentality, which is often associated with the hippie movement. People of the time would take trips to exotic locations such as India and Morocco, where they were impressed not only by local philosophies, but by their approach to architecture and furniture as well. First of all, they were much more inclined towards comfort and relaxation, and furniture in these areas is as aesthetic as it is practical.
Thus, when reaching for a retro decor, you must look towards heavy, traditional patterns, variety of textures and lots of color. It is difficult to balance all these while maintaining an airy atmosphere that isn’t too crowded, but the general guideline helps towards creating a retro style that represents you. In this style, the walls are just as much a part of the decor as other elements; they are usually adorned with intricate wallpaper, with flowery carpets, or even murals and mosaics. The furniture can be very colorful as well, but a lot more horizontal; this is described by ottomans, divans, sofas, plush rugs that you can rest on, throw pillows, stools and so on. Low tables, and even decorative objects placed directly on the floor.
The first step you have to take towards creating your own retro style is to get the furniture; this may be a bit difficult or costly if you don’t have access to flea markets or yard sales, where you can purchase authentic pieces and affordable prices. Without these, what you can do is focus on abstract types of furniture, strange geometry, plastic furniture with futuristic design, and so on. In the 50s and 60s, people thought plastic was a material of the future that would last forever; today we know better, but there should still be pieces you can use here and there. On the opposite end, but just as retro, are the long couches with lots of colorful throw pillows, and ottomans. And although they may seem kitschy, elements like door beads, lava lamps, fluffy carpets, or colorful wallpaper can be nicely inserted; keep in mind this is not a modest style, and you as a person must identify with it.
If, however, you want to recreate a 70s feel, you have to look for earthy tones and colors, such as beige, brown, yellow, mustard, orange, navy, and even deep purple. Patterns and heavy decoration are still present, but in calmer tones. To avoid over-decorating, keep three walls in a room in a single color, and add patterned wallpaper on the fourth wall; preferably, it will be the couch wall, which you can use to create a focal point in a room. Symmetry is pleasant in 70s retro style: the couch can be placed near the wall, in its center, and it can be framed by two small cabinets, two identical lamps, two tall vases and so on. You can use the same guidelines for the bedroom or other rooms, but “airy” is keyword here because you want to maintain a more restful atmosphere.
It’s not that difficult to tell which colors are most appropriate for the retro style; bright is a keyword here, though not mandatory. Dirty oranges, yellows and browns can work very nicely, even together, though you must not exaggerate. Avocado green is yet another color you can still find on objects today, but you can even be as bold as inserting pink and purple elements. As for the textures, look for traditional-style patterns, tie-dye coloring, checkers, plaid, velvet, and even linen. Be careful about how you mix them though, as checkered and plaid patterns don’t mix with other patterns, but can be good accents in a very colorful room.
Because you may not find furniture in your color scheme, or find that bright-colored furniture is too expensive, you can enhance it with decorative details. Instead of spending lots of money on retro-style wallpaper, you can find colorful drapes, old posters (movie posters from the 40s-70s are easy to find and usually have good artwork), fractal images, or even go in the opposite direction, and opt for black and white photos. A bland couch can become retro with a few exotic-looking throw pillows and a colorful blanket. Strange and futuristic lighting fixtures, beaded drapes, and pendant lights can help bring your decor together nicely, but you also shouldn’t forget about the decorative candles.