With the shock effects of ever more dramatic news articles stretching across our screens each day and the inability to visit loved ones from afar, we seek out comfort and happiness more than ever. And what better way to evoke these emotions than spicing up our interiors with hints of nostalgia?
The touch of wood panelling, the smell of stale cigarettes within the home or the sights of punchy colours overloading the senses, teleports us back the to past. Hints of the 1960s-70s stir up sentimental feelings of childlike memories in what seemed like simpler times. Covid-19 didn’t exist, so we were able to hug, and kiss loved ones freely.
But you don’t want to get caught up in nostalgia and risk your home looking like a brown filled interior canvassed by shag carpet, wood panelling and intricate wallpaper splattered everywhere. Today, these spaces feel oddly stuffy. So how do you infuse hints of retro vibes into your home’s interior while keeping it feeling fresh and spacious? Let’s explore the 5 best ways to add elements of nostalgia while maintaining a balance of modernity and ensuring your home is reflective of you!
1. Play with Colour
While the 1960s were defined by love and political movements, bold colours spoke to these times of change with vibrant hues of Citron Yellow, New Orleans Blue or warm peach. The 1970s built off this colourful palette by instilling groovy and mellow vibes into our homes with hues of brown, rust, mustard, avocado, and orange. While these colours have since been re-incarnated, covering everything from appliances, furniture, walls, prints, and accessories remains outdated. These retro vibes will have you feeling drab instead of fabulous.
When seeking out ways to bring back these retro vibes into your home’s interior, instead of having multiple chairs and couches competing with primary colours, try adding an avocado-coloured couch while maintaining a warm neutral colour palette elsewhere such as working with beiges or creamy whites. Further, coming into the 21st century, we suggest focusing your attention on sprinkling colour throughout with accessories or statement pieces.
One of the major mishaps we can see in hindsight from these eras is too much of a good thing. Do you recall the monochromatic floor to ceiling yellow or avocado bathrooms of the mid-century modern era? Today these styles would be considered nauseating.
Did you know an accent rug is one of the easiest ways to embed colour into your home plus it provides soothing comfort below your feet? The Atrium Barker Green Rug keeps things mellow with its avocado green colour and jute composition. This is the perfect flashback while remaining relevant today wouldn’t you agree?
2. Seek out Classic Patterns
Patterns in the 1960s and 1970s took nods to pop art, psychedelics, nature, opulence and as a result, one often found throughout homes: florals, space like shapes and geometric shapes. These often brought about a sense of new age and grooviness. It was loud, in your face and often it could be seen mixing and mismatching patterns and textures. The world was becoming our oyster with travel to faraway places such as the hippie trail from Europe to India and drawing inspiration from the markets of Morocco. Plus, space was top of mind with the first moon landing occurring in 1969.
One way to embrace this era within the home is through florals. Florals could be seen anywhere from peppering wallpapers, bedspreads, tablecloths, couches, and drapery. To modernize florals for use today, alike colour, less is more. We suggest focusing on one wall using a retro print while drawing inspiration from the accent neutral colours for surrounding furnishings and adjacent walls. You can find a brilliant selection of eco-friendly wallpapers boasting feel-good retro vibes online. Another way to embrace the retro florals of this period is through a printed retro throw pillow popping against a grey chair
Geometric shapes paired with the explosive colour defined the mid-century modern movement. Geometric shapes could be found anywhere from plate wear, drapery, artwork and more. Our favourite way to incorporate these elements in our homes today is through a bold and funky art installation. Our 437 Salmon Wall Hanging provides a cool retro feel with its geometric shapes and takes further nods to the 1970s with its long fringe swinging down. It makes the perfect addition to creating warmth plus a relaxed vibe to a home office space.
With travel becoming more common during these decades, tapestry, Turkish rugs, and wooden sculptures lined our homes. Often placed against wooden panelling on walls or paired next to a punchy coloured coffee table, there was a lot in a room vying for attention. To keep it modern, we suggest using prints to cover an expansive area and look for ways to add space by maintaining simple textures elsewhere.
3. Find Quirky Furniture Pieces
Did someone say chrome? Our fascination in the 1970s with chrome was prevalent throughout the home. This was seen through the use of quirky lamps lingering above the dining room table or leaning over in the living room. Other ways these shiny objects caught our attention was by grasping the legs of chairs or coffee tables. Sure, back then it felt like these elements were trying to catapult us into the future, but many of these elements still feel modern today. In contrast to many trends of this period that can feel stuffy, chrome today feels spacious. With its ability to reflect light, it can be sprinkled into our modern living or dining room without dating the rooms. To make it truly feel retro, seek out dome shape lamps. If you are looking to jump right into this trend, space-age pendant lighting can make a statement in a dining room.
If you are looking to warm up a room, we suggest seeking out a classic staple of the 60s and 70s- the armchair. With its clean lines and inspired by Scandinavian design, this piece frequently found its place in living rooms and offices alike. Create playfulness into your space by going for a funky avocado green or brighten up a space with a twist on this design with a yellow lounge. This builds on the classic armchair but is able to accommodate two. Keep these retro pieces as the centrepiece and add modernity by throwing an oversized rug below. We suggest the Scandinavian White Rug to keep your room feeling bright and spacious.
You may recall the “S chair” or also known as the “Panton chair”. Berthed in the 1960s this piece is oh so sexy and sleek. Often found in a vibrant red, adding this stable to an outdoor dining area could easily polish off a retro vibe in your outdoor entertaining space. Keep it modern by pairing a solid wood outdoor dining area and opting for white coloured Panton chairs. These statement pieces will add a cool factor and make your outdoor dining area feel more artsy.
Pro tip- if feasible in your living room, why not look to sink your furniture and create a sunken living room to create an even cozier space amongst your stylish furniture. Further this can add an interesting element of depth to your space.
Looking for subtle ways to sprinkle retro vibes into your home? The easiest and most cost-efficient way to do so is to source accessories popularised during the mid-century modern era.
The 1970s began our fascination with owls, and these could be found within the home from macrame owls, to table lamps and wooden structures. Try placing a macrame owl on the wall as a wall hanging or add a brass owl to your wooden shelves in a living room or office. To keep it modern, avoid crowding your shelves. A few pieces with a cohesive theme, spaced nicely amongst one another and spruced up with some greenery will keep it feeling fresh.
Another fan favourite of the 60s-to-70s-time capsule is the lava lamp. One can be easily mesmerised by its blob movements. First popularised in the 1960s by the hippie movement, this item could be placed anywhere from an office, living room, bedroom and was advertised as suitable for any room. We suggest bringing the retro vibes back to a living room by placing it on shelving close to power or sitting on your home office desk. Don’t blame us though if you spend minutes becoming lost in its allure.
An easy and inexpensive way to bring retro vibes into your kitchen, dining, living, or bedroom is by purchasing a starburst wall clock. While the need to check the time is no longer relevant today, this eye-catching piece will easily bring you back in time. Keep it modern by avoiding placing it in busy areas with other artwork or wall hangings. Instead, we suggest making it the star it deserves to be on your wall.
Indoor plants- from ferns, hanging vines, cactus and more, brought the outside in, and was all the rage during the 70s. While recently plants have made a comeback, keep it modern by avoiding too many plants into a space-creating almost a jungle-like feel. During this period plants were not only popular in the living room but in bathrooms too! Try adding a fern into a corner and this will help bring some life into your bathroom.
In the kitchen, try sourcing yellow or avocado coloured cast aluminium cookware or adding some floral printed mugs hanging below your cupboards. If you are seeking something more permanent, you could opt for an avocado green splash to add a pop of colour into your kitchen.
Finally, bath towels are an easy swap to bring retro vibes into a bathroom. Line up on your towel rack mustard yellow, rust and avocado towels and you could look for other small doses of incorporating these colours into your bathroom. Any large surfaces such as flooring, walls, and tiles keep bright and neutral for a modern twist.
5. Bring A Room Together with an Area Rug
Some of our favourite rugs that spark nostalgia are oversized vintage rugs or shag carpets. Shag carpets of the 1970s were typically found in vibrant shades such as golden orange, mustard yellow and fiery red. Their downfall was too much everywhere. Today, you can keep it modern by seeking out shag carpets in neutral tones or by using coloured shag carpets minimally throughout the home. Shag carpets retain their relevance today, because they bring softness to angular pieces in a room and provide comfort beneath our feet.
We love the Laguna Pink Shag for the bathroom. This could be placed below your sink or near the bathtub in a bathroom. This will add a luxe element to your bathroom, while the polypropylene pile composition is practical in places with lots of moisture. If used in a dining or living area, opt for something oversized or something that will skim outside the edges of your furniture.
While shag was king in the 1970s, our curiosity to visit afar places embraced by the hippie movement sparked us to bring a piece of this back into our homes. Tribal carpets were often seen in bathrooms, underneath the beds and in lounge or dining areas. Keep it retro by seeking out ethnic prints bursting with reds, rusts and yellows. We think the Magnolia Paprika Rug embodies the richness of the mid-century modern era and could be suited to a dining, theatre room or bedroom. Keep it modern by avoiding layering with competing prints or matching the colour of your rug to your walls and furniture.
Bringing in retro vibes into your home’s interior will not only ignite fond memories of the past but its warm colour palette and textures will provide comfort into any space. Try starting with something that can easily be removed and if you are feeling more adventurous, you can look to something more permanent such as a sunken living room or an avocado splashback in a kitchen. You can apply all these tips or merely one of them. The choice is up to you! Do keep in mind looking to strike a balance between retro and modern pieces to ensure your space has a fresh feel in 2021. Also, look to see how pieces fit together and try to seek out points of connection between pieces. The goal is to create a well thought out cohesive space.
Retro vibes within your home will keep your house feeling fun and exciting. We cannot wait to see what you create. Please share with us how you have applied these tips in bringing back retro vibes into your favourite spaces.Looking for other ways to spruce up your living room? Read further here for more inspiration.