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Wednesday, 17 April 2013

How to Go Retro at Home

If you're looking for something new and exciting in interior design, don't look to the future, look to the past. The retro look is always in style. Inspired by the styles, materials and colours of the post WWII era, there's something about retro that appeals to everyone. Here's what you need to know to go retro in your home.

What Makes Retro Retro?

At the end of WWII, the world entered a new era of prosperity based largely on mass production and new materials such as synthetic fibres and plastics. Manufacturers went into overdrive, coming up with home furnishings, appliances, flooring, lighting and accessories that made use of these new materials. In the 1950s, these were some of the "futuristic" ideas they came up with:

·         Plastic laminate bench and table tops.
·         Shag carpets.
·         Linoleum floors.
·         Plywood furniture.
·         Plastic-encased appliances.

Ornate styles were out, replaced by simpler geometric forms and free flowing curves. Before the 1950s, there was no such thing as a kidney shaped coffee table, but by the sixties they were everywhere. In the kitchen, 'lino' was the latest thing. Homeowners quickly started putting deep shag carpets over their "old fashioned" timber floors and new home builders installed plywood sub-floors and covered them with lino and carpet.

The essence of style is arguably colour and the colour that defined the early retro era the most was avocado green. If you want to instantly go retro in your home, paint your walls avocado green and you're off to a good start. Of course, you don't want to go to extremes, so consider the rest of the early retro colour palette, too. Mustard yellow, brown, aqua and orange were also "in" and helped define the early retro era. In the sixties, brighter colours were introduced and by the seventies, "psychedelic" colours became briefly trendy before being toned back down.

Going Retro in Your Home

You can go all-out and recreate a retro-replica interior, but retro today means incorporating stylistic elements of the 50s, 60s and 70s into the modern home. One of the great things about going retro in the home is that it can also be an inexpensive way to redecorate:

·         In the kitchen, look for the retro colour palette and styles in plastic laminate benchtops and splashbacks. On the kitchen floor, there's nothing more retro than black and white chequerboard vinyl tiles. Colourful retro refrigerators with softly rounded edges are a huge trend and you won't want to hide your modern retro toaster behind the cupboard doors.

·         In the living room, you probably won't want to get shag carpets, but you can go retro by placing a shag area rug on top of your timber, tile or vinyl tile floor. For a more distinctly retro look, find an old Scandinavian style timber and plywood coffee table and have a local cabinetmaker sand it down and refinish it for you. Choose old style table lamps with round lampshades and place a nice big sofa in aqua, brown or avocado green in between. If you can find a sofa in a second hand furniture shop and have it reupholstered, you'll have a designer sofa at a budget price.

To complete the retro look, you'll want to have some retro ornaments and decorations. Anything in chrome is good, such as a chrome rimmed kitchen clock or a whimsical chrome "rocket ship" on the mantel. While you may not want to wallpaper your entire room in a boldly geometrical or verging on gaudy looking floral patterned wallpaper , it might be just the thing to use on a feature wall.

Finally, find a place for a lava lamp some place in your house. Nothing, but nothing, says retro like a lava lamp.

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