Interior design: How Retro Can You Go?

Interior design trends in 2012 are a dream for anyone who loves a bit of retro. From in-your-face 70s wallpapers to Victorian bell jars, many of the year’s best design ideas look to the past for inspiration.  So, unsurprisingly retro design has also reached the most salubrious homes in the country, with owners looking to freshen up their luxurious homes and stand out from the crowd with a dash of old-school style. As such, Estate agents get great insight into owners’ tastes and also what they believe appeals most to potential buyers and tenants.  West London estate agents Domus Nova have many properties marketed on their website that seem to indicate that retro is very much in.  Many properties in West London are beautifully proportioned and in great condition, and the use of mid-century design shows them off in a very contemporary way.


If it’s good enough for residents in Notting Hill, it’s good enough for the rest of us.  But what if you want to really indulge your retro instincts?   Is there such thing as too much retro?  What styles are in? 

It is not just the 70s that are outrageously popular these days. The constantly-bubbling interest in mid-century modern has risen to a rolling boil on the back of Mad Men’s gorgeous aesthetic as well as the increasing cultural impact from Scandinavia.  And it doesn’t end there, austerity Britain has sought inspiration from the 40s, the decade that did it first, and Victoriana has made a comeback just in time for the nation to celebrate its second Diamond Jubilee.  Whatever era gets your juices flowing, you can revel in it and achieve a thoroughly contemporary look.  

Subtle (as a brick) Retro offers the opportunity to celebrate a bygone day, and often introduces an irreverent feel that is perfect for home. But if you let yourself go too far, you can descend into pastiche. Maybe you don’t mind that, and there’s nothing wrong with committing to a particular look, but a bit of practicality can save you some hassle later on. The more you do, the more you will have to undo at a later date, so consider leaving wallpaper and flooring for the dyed-in-the-wool enthusiasts. 

Glorious 70s wallpapers need generous proportions to really take flight. If you don’t have the room, or you think your eyes might not be able to take, it then mid-century modern is a better way to go. It still imbues your living spaces with unmistakable retro charm but is far more subtle with it. With G-Plan furniture, simple hints of teak, and subdued lampshades and wall hangings, pieces from this era prove the adage that less is more, and as a result you can introduce more pieces into a room without suffering ‘retroverkill’.

Everything in moderation – mixing styles.  Many of the other big trends for 2012 focus on simplicity and the effective marriage of styles – think of the way contrasting patterns are being expertly brought together – and that plays into the retro fans’ hands. Focus on simple, light wall colours like a white or light grey, and look for furniture that is low-key, soft and subtle. Around that add a mid-century rug or striking cushions. Invest in a beautiful feature coffee table or sideboard and some high-quality accessories.

All images are properties currently featured on the Domus Nova website.