In truth, retro style decorating actually encompasses several decades of styles, and the term itself is used to describe almost any interior decorating themes that are influenced by trends and styles from the past.
And while this definition means that just about any era could be considered "retro", the term is more commonly used to describe decor from the 1950's, 60's and 70's. Go back just a little farther and you're bridging more on vintage style, although the two styles can (and do!) frequently cross over.
Retro style decorating usually has a fun, lively feel to it, with bright colors, wild designs and an overall sense of "flair". Just think back to the fabrics and textures during the 60's and you'll immediately get a sense of where your decor needs to go to truly capture the essence of retro style.
Because retro-style requires such a bold approach, it also requires a certain personality to pull it off. There's nothing laid-back or casual about retro-style decorating. On the contrary, it is loud, busy and most definitely "funky".
So, how can you bring retro style decorating into your home? Let's take a look at some common elements of this energizing decorating style:
Retro Style Furniture
Retro style furniture has an abstract feel to it, with each piece almost fighting for the limelight as the focal point of the room. Sofas are broad and elongated with multi-colored throw pillows for an added dash of color. Shiny chrome barstools with bright red seats draw your attention to a wet bar or diner-style kitchen while Mitt chairs and puzzle-piece ottomans provide unique seating for guests.
Colors in Retro Decors
One of the easiest ways to give a room a retro feel is to choose retro colors. Fortunately, that's not hard to do. Avocado green is by far the most popular retro color choice, followed closely by mustard yellow and combinations of brown, black, white and red. In addition, purple and hot pink both make a great addition to your retro decor. Don't be surprised to find items that have a little of everything, with mixes of bright orange, green, indigo blue, and yellow on one single piece. Tie-dyed fabrics, checkered patterns, and elaborate paisley prints were also a trademark of the era.
Textures in Retro Interiors
This is one area where retro style decorating really goes over the top. When you think of retro style, you'll first think of shag carpeting, smooth plastics, soft vinyls, and crushed velvets. Remember, everything is bold when you're decorating in the retro style so don't be afraid of textures. The more the better.
A favorite aspect of retro style decorating, there's no limit when you're talking about accents and accessories. Fuzzy throw rugs, door beads, lava lamps, skate tables and scoop stools. Art and sculptures are typically bold and unusual, leaning more toward abstract pieces rather than simple landscapes and still-life.
Flooring for a Retro Feel
There are only three choices with flooring when you choose retro-style decorating-- natural wood, shag carpeting, and a bold mix of tiles placed in a checkerboard pattern.
Fun Retro Lighting
Floor lamps and lamps with square or tasseled shades are both wonderful retro choices. Or choose a swag multi-colored chandelier that plugs into a wall socket and feature a dangling cord draped from hook to hook.
Pulling It Together for a Total Retro Look
Retro style decorating is about combining a variety of shapes, textures and colors to create a look that's as unique as the era that influenced it. Retro furniture is sturdy, durable and completely usable. Everything is useful and functional. Furniture and accents have a purpose, such as black and white checkered curtains or the lime green bean bag chair in the corner. Ottomans often doubled as storage space and come in a variety of unusual shapes and colors.
Creating a workable retro style decor requires attention to every detail from the burnt orange wall sconces to the turquoise Kettle desk phone sitting on your bedside table.
The important thing to remember when decorating in the retro style is to get rid of any inhibitions you have about mixing colors and shapes.
Don't try to tone-down a retro style decor. It's like trying to tone down the over-the-top music of Jimi Hendrix. Throwing a few pieces of retro-influenced decor in your home will do nothing more than give it an outdated feel. If you love the Retro look, be ready to go all the way.