A retro living room can be inspired by furniture and fabrics from the 50s, 60s or 70s. You can create a period look, or mix and match a number of different styles to create something unique. Modern or contemporary style was popular from the 50s onwards. A combination of a few vintage pieces and some new pieces can create a modern look that is very twenty-first century.
Habitat and Ikea sell minimalist looking modern pieces that look great side by side with real vintage furniture from the 50s and 60s. You can also source some great furniture, lighting and curtains on eBay, if you are looking for originality.
We hope to give you some starting points with a look at some living rooms from the past.
1950s living rooms
People changed from liking traditional style living rooms in the 50s to preferring contemporary. Bright and contrasting colours were considered fun and modern. Different patterns were mixed together in the same room. This room (pictured right) from the late 50s shows large leaf patterned wallpaper mixing greens and black, contrasted with red carpet and a painted red wall. The fabric of the chair and sofa contrast also.
The coffee table (above right) shows a typical 50s style organic shaped coffee pot and mugs in a delightful natural fruit pattern.
This fashionable New York apartment from the 50s, left, uses contemporary furniture. In the first half of the fifties light coloured woods prevailed. They complemented bright coloured fabrics and wallpaper.
The owner of this apartment chose simple, modern furniture. The overall look is retrained modernism.
How to create a 50s style retro living room
If you want to create a retro sitting room inspired by the fifties, look for bold, patterned wallpaper. Abstract shapes were fashionable. Floral wallpapers were also popular, think of Cath Kidston's designs today. Go for modern style furniture. Either buy original G-Plan on eBay, or look for modern furniture in simple forms, with no decoration or ornamentation.
For more information see 50s contemporary style furniture.
1960s living rooms
In the 60s, modern was still cool, but colours were more subdued. The bright reds and lime greens of the fifties gave way to more subtle shades, but the overall look was still contemporary.
This sixties living room, left, shows a large orange sofa and matching chair. Contrasting sofas and chairs were less fashionable in the 60s.
The orange shade was very hip for the time, as were the curtains. The dark blue curtains show a circle motif which was very much "in" in the middle half of the sixties. The circular coffee table picks up the arc of the sofa and the circular pattern in the curtains. The sofa is a four-seater curved design allowing better television viewing for more people. It is also perfect for stretching out on.
Note also the two tone green telephone. This style of phone was new in the late fifties and became the standard GPO phone in the 60s. Choose a retro telephone to give your living room an extra touch of sixties style.
How to create a retro sixties living room today
The sixties is a decade that changed very quickly. If you are after the mid sixties look illustrated above, look for geometric shapes. Circles were popular. Contemporary furniture of modern style can do just as well as original pieces from the sixties. Better still, mix and match some original retro furniture with new furniture from Habitat, for example.
In the later sixties, people started to experiment with psychedelic patterns, paisley prints and vintage accessories. Also look for classic lampshades from the sixties. A good tip is to always use them with a low energy bulb. You often do not know which bulb wattage is appropriate for the shade and low energy bulbs will preserve the life of the lampshade.
A lava lamp can create an instant sixties look. First marketed in 1963, they tuned into the spirit of the decade and the great thing is you can buy new lava lamps today.
You can find the . Mathmos was the original brand and they are still made today. If you want an authentic model from the sixties or seventies, look for . A cheaper alternative, available from Amazon is illustrated, left.
1970s living rooms
This living room, left is from the 70s. Browns, creams and golds were the colours of the 70s. Most rooms still accented on modern style, but there was renewed interest in nostalgia and the past.
In this room we can see modern chrome furniture in the dining area, a cream leather sofa and exposed brick walls. There is a teak unit with a few collectable nick-knacks displayed. Teak furniture was still popular into the 70s and early 80s. The wall unit was now a much more common choice than the sideboard for storage. The patterned carpet looks traditional.
See also 70s retro furniture
This selection of fabrics from the 70s shows the style of patterns from the era. There are plenty of golds and browns. Textured fabric was popular. Paisley and flora prints were a hang over from the heady days of the late sixties. Their popularity lasted until the middle of the 70s. There is also an abstract pink pattern, second row, third from the left. Geometrics were also popular, but lines were curved rather than straight.
Getting the 70s look today
Look for modern patterns that match those popular in the 70s. It may not be easy as styles move on. It can be difficult to find retro wallpaper patterns in the DIY super stores, but there is a large selection of
Lamps and lighting in a room was moving towards the more traditional. Reproduction oil lamps were popular. Although, the Lava Lamp continued to be a favourite.
If you wanted to stay ultra modern in the 70s, the fibre optic lamp was cutting edge and expensive. Today, these are yesterday's technology and cheap to buy new. They can add a touch of retro chic to a 70s style living room.
70s style furniture is less easy to buy today. Modern classics from the 60s will still suit a 70s style room.
Your guide to vintage and retro