From the modern look of the '60s to the groovy florals of the '70s to the preppy color palettes of the '80s, retro decorating styles can vary big time depending on the era. "Retro can mean something different to a lot of people,'" says interior designer Drew McGukin. "For the most part, I'd characterize [it] as 'vintage and of another time.'"
But just because something is old doesn't mean it's out of style. Trends do make their way back around. These days retro-inspired looks — like the clean lines and muted tones of midcentury modern style — are making a comeback in a huge way. One possible explanation for a newfound fascination with interior design from the past could be due to a resurgence in thrifting and breathing new life into secondhand goods. "There's a clean, timeless modernity to much of the work that comes out of those decades," McGukin says. "I love mixing those sculptural, refined shapes and materials with forward-thinking new designs."
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Thankfully, you don't need a time machine to enjoy the aesthetic — with a little inspiration, you can bring the look into your own home and give it a modern twist.
12 Retro Room Decor Ideas Guaranteed to Inspire
1. Introduce hippie florals.
Are you ready to get down? This hippie-chic studio apartment by designer Dazey Den is taking us on a trip to the '70s with the help of colorful motifs worthy of any true flower child. Here, a mix of patterns and a bright color palette — made up of yellow, green, pink, and purple — deck out every inch of this space, from floor to ceiling, resulting in a kaleidoscopic wonderland that would put a smile on anyone's face.
2. Color block your space.
Retro style interiors are known for taking one color and really making the most of it. For example, in this home tour showcased on Old Brand New, Jonathan Lo of Happy Mundane used bright citrus hues to warm up this living room — even going as far as color blocking. The swath of orange paint turns this corner into a cozy reading nook. A multitude of textures and patterns — showcasing shades of persimmon, yellow, and rust — keep the good times rolling throughout the rest of the space.
3. Use vintage-looking appliances.
A simple way to achieve a vintage look in your kitchen is by adding a retro-looking appliance. For example, in this sunny cook space, an old-fashioned stove acts as the focal point and instantly makes the room feel like we've traveled back to a different time. And bonus: You can even buy a brand new stove or refrigerator with a vintage look in a variety of different colors from retailers such as Smëg.
4. Welcome a funky wallpaper design.
One quick and easy way to turn back the hands of time in your space is to bring in funky patterns. Megan Zietz of TF Diaries opted for this pink abstract design for the entryway. If you're a little nervous to clad all of the walls in your space, start small and limit the wallpaper to one section. Complete the look with midcentury furniture and a few colorful pieces of home decor.
5. Display old-school logos.
Keep the spirit of the past alive with the help of retro decor flaunting old-school packaging or logos. Whether it's a well-loved lunch box that you snagged on eBay or a collection of vintage soda bottles that you found at a flea market, packaging from the days of yore has this uncanny ability to take us back in time.
6. Embrace rattan furniture.
One surefire way to nail retro design in your home is by investing in rattan furniture. You'd be surprised by the amazing finds that you can discover in secondhand stores or flea markets. However, if you'd prefer to buy something new, there are tons of brands to peruse from Urban Outfitters to Serena & Lily to Kalinko. In fact, blogger and stylist Emma Jane Palin actually collaborated with Kalinko to create a handful of products including the rattan side table and lamp spotted in this living room setup. The natural material adds warmth, texture, and old-school charm that fits right in with the worn leather sofa and funky wallpaper.
7. Invest in an area rug showcasing a groovy pattern.
No matter what design style you fancy, weaving multiple colors into your space can be a challenge, to say the least. However, you can quickly and easily set the tone of your palette with the help of artwork, wallpaper, or an area rug. For instance, in this bedroom idea, the shag rug from Flor sets and the vibrant accent wall in the background provide all the bold color this room needs. Complete the retro scene with some lush greenery and you're all set.
8. Dust off your vinyl records.
What better way to pay homage to your favorite decade than by commemorating artists from that era? Take a page out of Emily Jane Lathan's playbook, and reserve an area in your home to display your vinyl collection. The display will not only serve as classic wall decor but it will also be quite the conversation starter. Plus, it will remind you to slow down and unwind with some tunes every now and then.
9. Incorporate a neon sign.
Blogger Aww Sam has the right idea. The creative cleverly paired bright floral wallpaper, a vinyl collection, a couple of caned stools, and some greenery with a groovy neon sign. The electrifying light fixture adds a personal touch while simultaneously giving a nod to previous decades. Whether you go custom or find an vintage design, the luminous piece of wall decor will undoubtedly add retro flair to your space.
10. Don't forget to consider the mood lighting.
Your groovy setup just won't be complete without a little mood lighting. Enter the lava lamp. This iconic piece of decor is still going strong — a testament to its ability to captivate passersby with its colorful dance. You can even make your own with this DIY project.
11. Design a gallery wall.
Put all of those yard sale, thrift shop, and estate sale trips to good use and start collecting old poster prints. Once you have enough, you can create a gallery wall à la this setup from stylist Ola Zwolenik. Here, the wall art complements the pink and yellow color scheme perfectly. Not to mention, the display introduces personal flair and loads of visual interest. Note the tone-on-tone paint. Swoon!
12. Go big.
If you're a bit of a risk-taker when it comes to interior design, follow the lead of Dazey Den. In this living space, orange in all of its glory graces literally every surface, but somehow, it just works. From the squiggles that run across the ceiling and down the wood wall paneling to the groovy wallpaper pattern to the shag rug to the electrifying retro furniture — the entire room is a visual feast for the eyes, the only thing missing is a trendy disco ball.