How to pull off a perfect retro interior

Cassie Pryce

They say what goes around comes around and while retro interiors may conjure up images of avocado green bathroom suites and psychedelic orange wallpapers, the iconic style is seeing a revival in a big way…

Colour combos

When it comes to creating a retro vibe, there’s plenty of choice to inspire your colour palette. Popular shades include mustard yellow, brown and red, whilst dark green and burnt orange also make striking additions when used in accent pieces.

White walls will make a good base from which to build up your look if you want something a little more pared back or, to fully embrace this style, look out for wallpapers with graphic, geometric repeat designs and don’t be afraid of going bold—the bigger the print, the better!

Decorate a statement feature wall using a bold print with graphic shapes. Geometric and abstract floral designs were particularly popular back in the 60s and have seen a modern revival today. Arthouse Tamara orange wallpaper, £8.99 per roll, available at gowallpaper.com

If you’re living in a rented property where decorating the walls isn’t an option, why not order samples of some funky wallpapers and frame them for a pop of colour? Hang the frames using 3M Command strips to avoid any damage to the walls.

 

Furniture finds

Pull together your mid-century look by choosing pieces with iconic design features to instantly create a retro feel: think simplistic, sleek curves, dark walnut woods, low-slung sofas and armchairs with exposed feet and kidney-shaped side tables. Popular materials from this era were plastic, chrome, glass and wood so opt for similar textures when buying today.

Build up a collection of mid-century kitchenware and showcase your favourite pieces as part of a styled display. David Weidman Family of Birds coffee pot, £45; family of birds mugs, £11 each, all Beaumonde

While lots of high-street stores and online retailers now stock retro-inspired furniture ranges (check out Cult Furniture, Out There Interiors and Maisons du Monde to name but a few), you’ll need to turn to specialist shops, markets and auctions if you’re after the real deal.

Original designer pieces such as G Plan, Eames and Ercol are highly sought after, meaning you’ll often have to pay a premium for such brands. If you’re willing to compromise, do some research into other similar designers from the era and you’ll be surprised at the price difference.

Dunelm’s Hansen coffee table is an affordable alternative to an original G Plan design for those wanting to recreate a retro look on a budget. Yellow check wallpaper, £15 per roll; Stamford sofa, £499; Hansen large sideboard, £449; Hansen coffee table, £169; paint stroke cushion, £25, all Dunelm

Remember to always check the condition of furniture when buying from second-hand sellers; look out for things like signs of woodworm or rot on wooden frames, or damaged upholstery on sofas and armchairs and make sure the price you’re paying reflects the quality.

 

Final touches

Have fun when it comes to accessorising and spend some time picking eye-catching pieces that will complement your retro scheme. Combine different textures to really embrace this look—team shaggy rugs with smooth plastics for an attractive contrast. A vintage radio or vinyl player will look the part in the corner of a living room, or hang 50s-style diner signs in the kitchen for a quirky styling idea.

For a more pared back feel, introduce a hint of mid-century influence by keeping walls neutral and allowing a statement, retro-inspired sofa to take pride of place. Fenner sofa, £1,600; Enzo AV unit, £495; Enzo bookcase, £450; Simone rug, £500; Gala coffee table, £275; Blair vase, £30; Ripple vase, £30, all Habitat

Macramé has seen a huge resurgence in recent years, so display house plants in hanging pots or opt for a woven piece of wall art for an on-trend Boho look. Large arched floor lamps ooze mid-century charm and look out for designers like Orla Kiely and Layla Faye for soft furnishings and wallpapers.

There are no set rules when it comes to achieving this look, so get creative mixing and matching different pieces for an eclectic finish with plenty of character.