Retro Furniture Ideas to Reflect Styles of the Past

If you have a nostalgic personality, or you appreciate the styles of the decades before your time, then retro furniture and decor offer many ways to express yourself. This time frame refers to the period from the 1950s to the 1970s, and includes industrial vintage furniture inspired by turn of the century factories. There are many distinct types of designs and colors during this span, and finding the one that suits you should be your main goal.

Even though you want retro furniture and inspired pieces, avoid the use of old furniture since older items are not made to the same safety standards as newer items. Luckily, the retro furniture style that the industry offers today has the same appearance as in former decades, but without any of the dangers. 

Ground Your Style in a Specific Decade

Before you begin to decorate, you should ask yourself, what is retro furniture supposed to look like in the decade I want to mimic? Too many people make the mistake of simply searching for "retro furniture" on a search engine or a furniture website, expecting that every piece blends perfectly together. Your best chance at a cohesive look for your home is to decide which of the included decades show the decor that you want the most. Plus, knowing about the decade makes it easier to decide on the right color palette and framed vintage furniture pieces.

The 1950s is just the first decade of the retro era. With big and bold patterns on the walls, use slender retro furniture for balance. Formica tables and chairs were all the rage, complemented with chrome accents on chair legs and backs. If you check out any 1950s-inspired diner, the furniture sets the tone against the classic white and red background.

During the 1960s, more color made its way into mainstream interior decor. If you use this motif, choose low tables and other short retro furniture, making the ceiling look much higher than normal. Everything in this era highlighted the molding in seats and other furniture, so try to find dining room chairs or living room chairs with similar cushions.

If you decorate like people did in the 1970s, you need to focus on bulky and chunky furniture, like big dressers, entertainment centers, and similar items. Seek out boxy couches with wooden legs. As a rule of thumb, your retro furniture and paint have the same colors that you find in nature during the autumn months, like rustic red, avocado green, and mustard yellow.

The 1980s brought in many advances in technology, but it also ushered in the art deco style, which you can reflect in your retro furniture. Choose accents and fabric with creamy pastels, like teal and mauve, for couches. With white wicker and minimal patterns, the prominent country appeal blends with whatever retro furniture you choose. If you want to include the 1990s in your motif, the only substantial difference between the other decades is the use of saturated colors.

Add Accents to Broaden the Look

With all the decades, your retro furniture needs accents to add touches of your personal style, but without disrupting the tone of the room. Lighting fixtures are a significant part of each decade, and they enhance the prominence of the retro tone against your vintage furniture. The easiest way to integrate the accents is by choosing funky shapes, whether the fixture hangs from the ceiling or adheres to the wall. Try to match the same metal as you use on your furniture, utilizing media furniture for storage space, or shelving for different art pieces.

Use the Modern Retro Furniture Look

Without fully committing to the retro look, use modern influences to create a balance for bedroom, dining room, or living room vintage furniture. The modern retro furniture look uses the second half of the retro years, which is the 1970s to the 1990s. Some of the designs include bright colors, wavy lines, thick geometric symbols, and "happy" colors like red, orange, and yellow. Find couches in solid colors, accenting them with the patterns in pillows and throw blankets, or use end tables with curvy legs and tops.

Retro furniture should mean something to you since so much of this type of decor focuses on nostalgia. Use your own inspiration from your experiences in these decades, if you were born early enough to remember them. If not, take a page from your parents' or grandparents' homes to make the room look welcoming and reminiscent of your chosen decade. All the retro furniture you choose should be whimsical, kitschy, and featuring decor that was prominent in pop culture during that time. With a few new retro furniture pieces from that time and the right vintage art, you'll turn any living space into a blast from the past.