Retro design is a uniquely different and whacky style of interior design. Think a blast from the past… the kind of style that encompasses a mixture of 50s, 60s and 70s design with a touch of new flair.
Some might think the style has been thrown together in a mishmash of elements, but this could not be further from the truth, says intrepid interior designer Bianca Harvey from Harvey Design Fusion. With more than 20 years in the design world, Bianca is more passionate than ever about bringing beauty to different spaces and that includes bringing past trends back to life.
“Retro design is a complicated style which requires thoughtful implementation. The style lacks rules, but ironically, several stringent guidelines need to be adhered to in order to achieve the right aesthetic. Vintage is often confused with retro. They are indeed similar, but vintage has its origins in the earlier eras preceding the retro inspiration.”
According to Bianca, true retro style suites the eccentric individual. It is whacky, fun, bright and overly adorned with near-gaudy elements.
“Spaces are designed and furnished without giving much thought to a focal point, while each unique piece or adornment fights for attention over the other. The look to achieve is one that is wild and free and “funky” beyond your wildest imagination.”
To achieve this style in your home Bianca suggests you take a good look at your existing furniture.
“Mixing second hand furniture and new pieces is totally on trend in this case. Start by asking; do you own a few hand-me-downs or have you got a local flea market nearby that sells has-beens? These types of ‘oldies’ can be a gem in your new retro living room with these out-of-date possessions being upcycled, upholstered or repaired to bring them into the 2019 Retro style. Do not be afraid to disfigure these pieces slightly to make them your own unique creation, while keeping taste in mind.”
Bright and colourful is the best place to start to achieve the look for your home. Avocado greens, mustard yellows and combinations of black, white, orange and red are the top choices. Purple and pink are also deemed worthy colour candidates for retro design.
Pattern and Texture
Heavily textured rugs and fabrics are ideal for attracting attention. Fabrics such as crushed velvets, woollen and plush fabrics are textures to keep in mind. In terms of pattern, the crazier and zanier the pattern, the better. Find success by using bold shapes and patterns on fabrics, wallpaper and furniture.
Back in the 50s, 60s and 70s, the hottest trend was furniture made of unusual materials such as plastic moulded chairs. The most iconic of these are the Bubble Chair and Tulip. Incorporating one of these funky items alongside one of your old treasures will ensure a strong retro design.
“When decorating, think of accessories such as lava lamps, vintage globes, tasselled lamp shades and shaggy rugs. These are bold statement pieces that demand attention. In the day, these new ‘modern’ designs were favoured by intellectuals, so the inclusion of books is also an integral part of the look. Do not throw out that teak console or any other dated furniture pieces, they can come in handy. Any unusual items with immense personality should be incorporated at all costs. While some pieces might seem clunky or oversized at first, when placed correctly these often become the most comfortable and functional pieces that are the epitome of retro design.”
“Once you have adorned the space to high heavens, and you think it’s time to tone things down, reassess and add more. Excess of adornment is critical to the design aesthetic. The entire goal here is to achieve a space that is cheerful, lively, fun and cheeky. If it makes you smile then you have created a successful retro design space!”