How to Try the Retro Glam Decorating Trend in Your Space

Retro glam living room from Phara Queen of Neely+Queen

Courtesy of Phara Queen / Neely+Queen

As we take a look at decor trends on the rise, one style that keeps coming back on our radar these days is an aesthetic that’s chic, fun, and glamorous: retro glam.

This look can currently be spotted all over the place (hello, HGTV Dream Home!), so we turned to the experts to find out what defines retro glam, how we can bring the look into our own spaces, and what makes this trend particularly perfect for fall.

Meet the Expert

  • Anna Langston is a designer at Stoneside Blinds & Shades, a custom drapery company.
  • Sara Ianniciello is the director of design at Whitehall Interiors, a New York City–based design studio.
  • Phara Queen is a celebrity interior designer and co-founder of Neely + Queen, an Oklahoma City, Oklahoma–based firm.
  • Jade Joyner is a co-founder of the interior design firm Metal + Petal.

What Retro Glam Is

Start asking about retro glam, and it quickly becomes clear that that nearly everyone has a slightly different take on what constitutes retro glam.

“Retro glam is … reminiscent of the elegance of Old Hollywood mixed with funky, mid-century modern pieces,” suggests Anna Langston, designer at Stoneside Blinds & Shades. “To get the look, you can combine glam elements like velvet or marble with some sleek lines, fun patterns, and bright colors.”

Sara Ianniciello, director of design at Whitehall Interiors, has a slightly different take—though she pulls her inspo from a similar era as Langston does. “It’s easy to elevate a vintage aesthetic to ‘retro glam’ by steering toward glitz, reflective surfaces, and organic forms that evoke the space-age aesthetic that emerged in the 1950s,” she says. “[Whitehall has done] the look with a statement pendant light that looks like a set of orbiting planets and a fluted, frosted glass room divider—two design touches that people can opt for in order to bring a bit of ‘retro glam’ into their own homes.”

Phara Queen, interior designer at Neely + Queen, has another slightly different take on the ideal era for retro glam inspo. “I’m seeing clients looking for the ’70s mod vibe, which says a lot about the desire to create these fun, feel-good experiences within personal living spaces,” Queen explains. “Retro movies and music on streaming services are helping drive this interest to new levels.”

It's All About the Mix

Jade Joyner, co-founder of the interior design firm Metal + Petal, has yet another take. "Retro glam is vintage-inspired interiors with a bit of gold, glitz, rock 'n roll,” she says. “It's Dorothy Draper in a modern way. I like to incorporate this look by mixing up eras of furniture from the recent past, like ’90s chandeliers and ’80s furniture, mixed with a ’60s piece. The key is to do it with a light hand. Don't go too heavy into the trend, or the room will seem too contrived."

When it comes down to it, any vintage era will do for perfecting the retro glam look. “You can use furniture and accessories from all eras as long as there’s a good mix,” says Queen. 

Avoid Creating a Theme Room

There's another reason striking a delicate balance is key. As Joyner tells us, designing one, sole room to be retro glam runs the risk of making that room feel like a theme room in relation to the rest of your home. “I don’t like themes, so if this is your intended style, carry it throughout the house,” Joyner suggests. “I think the living room is the best place to showcase a [full] retro glam style, but you can for sure add nods to the look in [the] main areas of your home.”

Lean Into the Nostalgia

As for what’s causing this surge in retro glam, Queen has a theory. “I believe what’s driving this ‘retro glam’ trend is the pandemic, which has made everyone more nostalgic—not only in the U.S. but overseas as well,” says Queen. “Our research shows people are tapping back into items ranging from fashion to food to music to connect with the happy memories of the past. Of course, this is impacting interior design.”

It's All in the Details

When it comes to pulling retro glam elements into your current design, you don’t have to go all in. “Use small accessories,” suggests Queen. “Go to thrift stores and Goodwill. It’s always good to train your eye to know what you like and what something is worth.”

On the other hand, if you do decide to fully embrace this look, then be sure to go all-in—from floor to ceiling, with special attention to your windows in between. “Drapery is a great and easy way to bring in retro glam to any room in your home,” Langston tells us. “The right set of drapes makes a powerful visual statement and is the perfect mix between elegant and homey. Floor-length drapes will add a dramatic flair that screams glam, and the luxurious fabrics will make the space feel warm and lived in.”

Color is also key for executing this look. “For retro glam, I think pinks and golds work well but maybe are a tad expected,” Joyner says. “For that high-end retro glam look, I’d go for chocolates and oranges—deep rich hues.” 

There's No Time Like the Present

As for when to play with this look, fall lends itself well to this style. Retro glam is particularly perfect this time of year because it’s easy to add a holiday dash of glamour and fun. “Going into the holidays, it’s always fun to use barware,” says Queen. “Mid-century barware often incorporates jewel tones and gold—great holiday colors.”

But the real key, says Joyner, is mixing vintage with new trends. “A whole house of vintage glam pieces can feel a bit too much, but if you combine a few newer items with a couple of statement vintage pieces, you’ll create a perfect backdrop,” she says.