Retro-style furnishings are back en vogue. Vintage style is a classic and yet highly contemporary trend that both modern and classic homeowners adore.
Vintage design has a special and unique sense of charm that appeals to many folks. Retro decor includes a variety of aesthetic touchpoints, which include novelty charm, quintessential design archetypes, and ethereal, romantic motifs. With its widespread appeal and ornamental touches, retro elements can transcend quick, flash-in-the-pan trends and decades of home style.
Definitive retro design components include durable textiles such as wool, velvet, cotton, or silk alongside raw materials like wood and glass. In addition to these elements, metal is a huge presence in vintage furnishings like brass, silver, gold within these materials, too. Design periods such as art nouveau, mid-century modern, and baroque are heavily associated with vintage, but there are many other design eras and period styles that fall under the retro chic umbrella!
So what is vintage style exactly? Retro furnishing, art objects, or decor can be between 20 and 100 years old to be considered vintage. This encompasses a broad period with a multitude of aesthetics, trends, and pop culture design phenomena to consider! In short, adding vintage touches to a living space gives any homeowner a wide berth for playfulness and creative expression. And how does one exactly scour the world for the oh-so-right vintage item? A retro item in question should also easily and quickly reflect the design period it represents, such as 1920s, 1950s, or 1970s decor trends, for example. Don’t be afraid to mix and match furnishings or art from various periods; in fact, a living room can be even more elevated by combining key pieces from different design eras.
Any homeowner looking to get his or her feet wet with retro-style touches should start with the living room. This room is often a star-studded focal point of any home, as it is the normal gathering space for entertaining, lounging, relaxing, and more. With retro-futurism – like 1950s atomic design elements back in style to the sleek mod Mid-Century modern trend resurgence – it’s not hard to find a motif or pizzazz that will transform any living room. Plus, adding in vintage charm doesn’t have to make a home look dated or stuck in a time machine, as these classic design elements represent their cultural period while also remaining ageless and timeless.
Retro-style appliances and vintage-filled bedrooms are already trending across the world. So why not add a bit of that design enthusiasm to your living space? You can mix-in this style in big and small ways: couches, tables, planters, art, screens and dividers, along with decorative trinkets. The living room is a wonderful vantage point for retro-style as it elevates every day hangout spots and entertaining to another-worldly, engaging, and cozy space.
Check out our tips and tricks below on how to add whimsical retro charm to your living room right now.
How To Mix-In Vintage Style To Your Living Room
Before diving head first into the wonderful wide world of vintage, be aware that there is a bevy of products on the market. In addition, many contemporary designers are creating furniture, appliances, and decorative objects with vintage inspirations in mind. However, don’t feel disenchanted or fatigued by all of the options available. If anything, get inspired by it!
The question now is: where to begin? Research iconic and off-beat trends from decades for which you have an affinity. From there, pick vibrant colors of your preferred decades for top tier style and aesthetics.
With jewel tones or bold colors top of mind, opt for a couple of neutrals to balance out bright colors and harmonize the space. Plus, neutral toned items can add surprising twists and help equalize the mood of any room, particularly a living room. With a color palette defined, homeowners can unearth popular fabrics, accessories, artists, films, and silhouettes from decades past.
As to the degree of how little vintage or vintage-inspired items to add into your design scheme, that’s up to you. Whether the changes are major or tiny – swapping out a couch, adding a coffee table, record player, cheeky wall art – they can make any ordinary space extraordinary with vintage. High or low style, browse our compilation guide below to find the best design details to remix your vintage style.
A Vintage Oasis Awaits
1. Mix in soft and sleek textures.
Nothing says luxe vintage aesthetics like a supple and sinewy velvet couch, particularly in a deep jewel tone like a moody chartreuse or midnight blue. For a real pop, add a contrasting material for an elevated mood with a shiny and sleek modern white or black credenza complete with bright gold hardware. Homeowners can play with additional textures and materials like reclaimed wood, brass, chrome, porcelain, and more.
2. Add a scattering of quirky touches.
Consider pop art collectibles like vintage radios and boxes, inspiring vintage picture books, stylish vases, throws, colorful or ornate lamps, and bright glassware. Other chic accessories like retro record players and nontraditional tables like stacked suitcases, wooden crates, lockers, and library cabinets make a clever splash.
3. Get playful with art.
Art is both a great mood equalizer and conversation piece. Create a gallery wall with famous art prints and beloved film posters, or even source vintage photos from a thrift store and mix and match frame colors and sizes. And beyond gallery walls, don’t shy away from sculptures, figurines, vintage magazines, and even retro radios and telephones to dot your end tables, bookshelves, and even a bar cart.
4. Weave in patterns and color.
Combine patterns for a unique feel in your living room’s atmosphere. Patterns can extend to rugs, blankets, wall art, and even design motifs on other furnishings like wood grain patterns, carved tables, chairs, and credenzas, and even wall art! Sprinkle in pops of contrasting colors to add volume to the patterns and textures like shaggy rugs, soft pillows, and velvet chairs.
5. Highlight a statement piece.
This is the time to go big or go home. Whether it is a large credenza, a vintage settee, a sculpture from your favorite era, room dividers, printed screens, and even bookcases make an arty, splashy statement.
6. Cheers! Go big with a bar cart.
Capitalize on this prime space by adding a few more pieces like small vases, sculptures, and novelty art. A cart is also an ideal space for stocking period barware with cocktail shakers, vintage glassware, stylish jugs and bottles, and even art above the cart! Glass and brass carts are very of-the-retro moment and classic.
Stephanie Valente is a Content Director and Editor in Brooklyn, NY. She’s previously held writing and social media positions at Barkbox, Men’s Journal, and currently works at a full-service advertising agency. She’s a self-confessed home and design enthusiast. Stephanie is an award-winning poet and fiction writer. When she’s offline, you can finding her taking a yoga class, running, hanging out with her rescue dog Pepper. Find her on stephanievalente.com.