19 October 2012
In the final part of our Get the Look series, we put the retro chic style in the spotlight. Jane Kubiesa delves into the design archives to uncover this latest trend in modern miniature décor. ...
Bright, quirky and kitsch sums up this modern trend perfectly. It’s all about mixing styles from the past to create a unique interior. Initially the term ‘retro’ when applied to interiors encompassed the 1950s, 60s and 70s, but now that range has been expanded to include the 1940s and 1980s as well. This style is so exciting because it blends furniture and decorating ideas from all of these periods and repurposes them into a modern design trend which is perfect for both large and small scale homes.
In terms of decorating a dolls house or room box to fit with this look, wallpaper is a must and is probably the most important part of the scheme. There are dozens of fabulous period wallpapers to use as a base to build a miniature room around, from the abstract 1950s papers in reds, pinks and mint greens and the psychedelic prints of the 1960s and 1970s in browns, yellows and oranges to the red, grey and black patterns of the 1980s. These papers can either be used on one wall, placed in wall panels to create a feature wall or for the whole room alongside a feature wall of wood panelling or stone effect paper. Wood or stone effect works particularly well on a chimney breast. The adventurous miniaturist could even try panelling the ceiling in wood.
For retro chic flooring, carpet or vinyl are the number one choices. Adhesive-backed dolls house carpet comes in a range of colours and is ideal for recreating shag pile. It can be used in a colour to complement the wallpaper or in a more neutral tone to soften bright patterns. Equally, matt sticky-backed plastic sheets are versatile and come in a selection of colours to imitate 1940s and 50s linoleum. Since retro chic wallpapers are so vibrant, floors are kept free of rugs to avoid pattern overload.
Retro chic furniture covers everything from the 1940s to the 1980s. You can really go crazy on quirky pieces. New and second-hand, slightly distressed, furniture can be mixed together to give this look an authentic feel. You could even add real period miniatures for that special touch. Teak is the predominant shade of wood to use, but painted furniture using the key colours from these eras is also popular and black ash from the 1980s adds a little drama.
Many of the classic items of designer furniture which grace stylish contemporary homes actually hail from the 1960s, so these are a perfect fit here. And miniature versions of these classics like the Corbusier and Eames loungers can be found on sale from miniature artisans. A fun addition to this scheme is the use of royal memorabilia, Union Jack themed accessories and quirky souvenirs to complete the retro chic feel.
Red, orange, brown, grey, mint green
Patterns, wood panelling, royal memorabilia
How to customise
- Re-cover modern items of furniture with scraps of vintage fabric for an authentic look.
- Copy the designers and make scaled pop art murals using different denominations of postage stamps.
- Strip back wooden furniture and stain in teak for an instant retro look. For the finishing touches, cover table tops and cupboard interiors in sticky-backed plastic or varnished, patterned paper to recreate Formica. Doors and handles can be painted in a bright, contrasting colour.
- For a 1970s/80s look in the bathroom, paint your bath, sink and toilet in brown, salmon or avocado shades. The easiest way to paint plastic is with a specialist primer, followed by spray paint to avoid brush marks.
- Distress some pieces to mimic well-used vintage items: Wooden edges can be sanded and rounded off; tin and iron can be rusted with a two-part bleach, one part vinegar mixture; and fabric can be lightly bleached in places to mimic wear and tear. Depending on the fabric type, this can be done with watered down bleach, sunlight or washing at high temperatures.
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