5 Retro Interior Design Tips in 5 mins!

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living room retro interior and title

We all dream of creating a Pinterest-worthy home. But of course, the reality is very different when you're starting out. A mix of limited funds and questionable, pre-decorated rental accommodation can squash any scandi-minimalist dreams or art-deco delights in seconds. While the shell of your flat is certainly one that can be altered in so many ways, it's easy to feel deflated when you walk in to find that your preferred aesthetic of white walls and mahogany wood floors are instead subbed with magnolia finishes and blue carpets (cheers, landlord). But sometimes you've just gotta roll with it, or at least try to cover everything possible with amazing home interiors

Which leads us nicely onto today's article. Let's look at how you can dial up the funk in your home with some retro-inspired home decor...

(To follow my interior journey and keep up-to-date with all my blog bits, come join me over on Instagram - @emmielois

(For more interior inspiration, you can also find me on Pinterest by clicking here

So for me, a retro-style can be summarised with five main elements: 

  • A warm-toned colour scheme 
  • Curved shapes and patterns 
  •  Mixed textures and mid-century furniture 
  •  Vintage artwork/prints 
  •  Plants

Apart from being in love with the 60's and 70's eras, I chose to go with this theme for my flat because it's one of the cheapest interior styles to pull off. Everything listed above can be sourced second-hand or achieved relatively in-expensively. Like anything of course there's still the higher end of the market to explore - finding one-off vintage pieces for example - but for the sake of this article, let's keep it cheap and cheerful. 

1. Warm-toned Colour Scheme

collage of warm-toned colour palettes

*colour palettes taken from Pinterest* 

The 60's and 70's were all about peace and love, so naturally, your colour scheme should evoke that same kind of positive energy. For a retro finish, you want to be looking at warmer shades, also known as earthy tones. And no, thank god, nothing has to be brown if you don't want it to! There's a common thought that retro = brown, old and boring. Absolutely not! Think gorgeous hues of burnt orange, vibing with pinks, pistachio greens, and moody blues.

*Top Tip* I'd recommend getting a blank canvas and some paint and creating your own colour palette; it's the perfect way to add in some of your favourite colours to give it that personalised touch. Then rank your rooms in terms of how much theme matters to you. For example, I'm going more traditionally retro in my living room, but then adding more colourways in my kitchen, and keeping it calmer in my bedroom by introducing cooler tones. 

2. Curved Shapes and Patterns  

retro prints

This tip can be very easily overlooked, but it's the little things that make the world of difference! Curved shapes emulate the iconic hippy font-type, created by Wes Wilson, which became the graphic expression for the peace and psychedelic movements in the 1960s. It's trippy, swirling style has worked it's way into a lot of interior elements, through everything from candle holders to cushions. 

*Top Tip* Charity shops are made for this style of home - the majority of brick-a-brack brought in is already dated, and oozes character. Remember, things can be painted, altered, and shaped to perfection - one person's trash is another person's treasure, so get searching! 

3. Mixed Textures and Mid Century Furniture 

collage of retro furniture and interior design

Velvet, tassels, corduroy, fake-fur... these are your key players that look good in any setting. I'm also adding an array of warmer wood finishes to this list - oak, teak and walnut are ideal for getting that mid-century interior style. When looking for bigger items of furniture, mid-century styles mostly encompass the general retro vibe and can be found everywhere from MADE to Facebook Marketplace. 

*Top Tip* Don't be afraid to mix textures, that's what adds depth and flair to your interior. Also, if you're struggling to find things in your budget that fit the texture criteria, don't be afraid to DIY!

4. Vintage Art Work and Prints

collection of retro artwork

Groove is in the art and is the key to tying together any room. Most art dealers or interior websites will separate their artwork into sections, so finding retro prints is usually a breeze. There's still such an overwhelming amount of choice though! So here are a few starting points for you to work from...

- The easiest way to introduce retro art into your home is to find portraits of people from the past. An icon, a famous editorial piece, you get the idea. What's more retro than having a photo of someone who literally defined the era?

- Block colour pieces work great in a mood board, and just hammer home that colour scheme I was talking about earlier.

- Psychedelic graphics look so cool. 

*Top Tip* When framing bigger pieces, I'd opt for gold or wood frames. Depending on the piece I'd also say getting a coloured frame could look really flattering! If you've got the frame, but are still searching for the perfect print, use a magazine cutting as a place-holder. It's cheaper and still has the desired effect.

5. Plants 

Plants on a patterned background

It may just be me, but there are definitely certain plants that have more of a retro feel to them (have I lost the plot? Probs). Opt for spider plants, cheese plants, ferns, pampas grass and bamboo, instead of desert plants like succulents.  

Feel free to take this one with a pinch of salt, I get it's a bit extreme but I may as well go through it all while we're talking about it! 

*Top Tip* Fake it until you make it, babe. If being a full-time plant mom triggers potential commitment issues, opt for some plastic beauties instead.  

And there you have it! You're now on your way to creating the grooviest abode in all the land. In case you still need some help, or something to refer back to, here are some of my favourite retro-inspired home accounts on Instagram... 

. @70shousemanchester 

. @retrohauls 

. @bungalow_fifty8 

. @whinniewilliams 

and for any plant inspiration...

. @flourish_manchester

. @ruffledflowers 

What would your dream home look like? Leave a comment below!

Wishing safe and sound energy to all x

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