Furniture, accessories and styles from the past are increasingly popular, whether it's sleek Art Deco designs, fifties kitsch or funky sixties fashions that take your fancy. You don't have to decorate your entire home with retro items to enjoy the style - many thoroughly modern homes successfully incorporate a few favourite retro pieces to create a unique look.
Katherine Sorrell's book Retro Home is full of ideas and gorgeous images of interiors to give you some inspiration to add a touch of retro style to your home. She begins by explaining what exactly retro mean - to her at least, as apparently retro can imply different things to different people - although it is generally considered to be anything that's more than 25 years old, but which isn't a proper 'antique'.
The book divides the retro look into seven distinct styles, and discusses the key elements of each looking at a range of furniture, fabrics and accessories illustrated with images to show how your retro home might look. First up there's Nostalgia which isn't based on any particular period but is more of an idealised view of how things used to be with painted floorboards, patchwork quilts and faded florals - think Cath Kidston or Toast with a touch of shabby chic and you'll have the idea. Then there's Luxe Moderne which is a far more luxurious and decadent style based on the 20s and 30s and combining Art Deco and Modernism. This might include items in tubular steel, leather and chrome with accessories made from Bakelite or colourful Clarice Cliff ceramics. Scandi Sleek is light and airy - an open-plan living look which is clutter-free, simple and sculptural, based on Scandanavian design. For a fifties feel, there's Mid-Century Modern - all spindly-legged furnishings, kidney bean shaped coffee tables and a palette of black and white, lemon-yellow, teal, tangerine, crimson, turquoise and acid green. Take it one step further and you have Colourful Kitsch, unstuffy and fun with formica units, Lava lamps, flying ducks and pineapple-shaped ice buckets. The author warns that a little of this style goes a long way, and an overdose of colourful kitsch in your home could end up looking like the height of bad taste rather than something cleverly ironic. The American Dream is another fifties style, based around a US Diner theme with chrome, leather, neon, brightly coloured pieces made from plastic or fibreglass and perhaps even a jukebox. Finally there's sixties and seventies style In the Groove with man-made bright, bold colours and shapes. Throughout the book, key designers are featured and their looks explained: for example the modernist Le Corbusier style which uses tubular steel and plain colours or the distinctive chairs and accessories of Danish designer Arne Jabocbsen.
The final part of the book looks at a selection of case studies, with different rooms which use different retro styles, showing how these can be both stylish and practical. It concludes with a useful list of stockists to help you to seek out the look you want for your home.
Retro Home shows that you can bring a touch of retro into your home whether you're doing it on a shoestring, picking up pieces from junk shops and markets, or whether you're more interested in a few expensive designer items. For anyone who is fascinated by styles from the past, Retro Home is an excellent source book, packed with inspiration and ideas.
About the author:
Katherine Sorrell is an interiors writer and former Associate Editor of Homes & Gardens. She writes for a range of leading magazines and newspapers, and is the author of numerous books.
Retro Home is published by Merrell at £24.95
Bedroom image copyright
copyright GAP Interiors / Rachel Whiting, styling Francine Kay
Kitchen image copyright
GAP Interiors / Douglas Gibb