I’ve always admired the retro look, but never quite dared to decorate retro style – until now. And where better to start than one of the rooms I spend a lot of time – a retro style living room!
When we first moved into our home 11 years ago, I wallpapered the living room walls with Elinor wallpaper by Graham and Brown. It was the starting block that was to inspire the rest of the room’s theme.
And so when it came to redecorating the lounge – I decided to let the wallpaper trends inspire me again, except I knew that I wanted a retro vibe. For a couple of months I’d collect wallpaper samples from various shops and bring them home to hold up against the wall.
Retro style wallpaper (and paint)
Because the living room is north facing, it’s fairly dark and doesn’t get much light until the very late afternoon when the sun starts to set.
Bearing this in mind, I wanted to lighten up the living room and choose something with lighter colours in. When I came across the Modern Geo Ochre & Grey wallpaper (batch no 697806) from Arthouse and held it against the wall, I knew it was the one.
I calculated that I’d need three rolls and bought them from eBay for £32.85. You can also buy them from Amazon for £10.99 a roll.
Because the wallpaper has contrasting grey tones plus white and yellow in it, I decided to paint the opposite wall in Warm Pewter by Dulux. I picked mine up in Wilko for £15 – and they often do offers if you pick up a couple of tins.
Meanwhile, the window wall (and the opposite wall) were painted in brilliant white (soft sheen) by Dulux. I like using soft sheen as it helps to bounce light around the room and it’s easy to keep clean. Unlike most matt paints, you can just get a cloth out (I usually use a magic sponge), to wipe any marks/fingerprints off the walls as it’s so easy and quick instead of having to do touch-ups with the paint.
Retro style furniture
I didn’t need to update the alcove shelving (from IKEA), sideboards or sofas, but what I was hankering after was a new side table.
The old one was too low and too small – I needed something that would house a side light (from Debenhams), my cool retro drinks coasters, my magazines and nuts, which we like to snack on while watching the telly!
I started by measuring the height of the sofa arm – I needed it to be either the same height or a little taller to be able to reach over for my cuppa in the evening (you’ve got to think of practicalities don’t you?).
After much deliberation, I came across a lovely side table from Wayfair. It had the right height, the right depth and perfectly matched my sideboard consoles. It even had more storage underneath it for things like my secret stash of sweets and my chemo bag which I like to reach for in the evening.
The ONLY dilemma I faced was its width – it was too narrow. But I thought of a workaround– buy two and push them together. And it worked! I now have a functional side table that houses all my necessities and fits in beautifully with my retro style theme.
One of the finishing touches to my retro style living room were some gorgeous plants. I’d seen another influencer showcase her Patch Plants on Instagram and they immediately caught my eye.
However, I’ve always had a bit of a dilemma when it comes to keeping plants alive, so I made sure I did my research. I needed plants that didn’t mind not having any direct sunlight and were easy to care for.
And I found four types of plant for the new retro style living room – all of which were easy to care for and – get this – a couple of them were great at cleansing the air too!
My three large plants were…
- Cassie, described as “an ideal beginner’s plant as she’s super easy to look after, thriving in almost any room”.
- The colourful plant Fleur, which introduces a gorgeous pop of red into the room and matches the colours in the rug and one of my Frida Kahlo tins on the bookshelf
- The snake plant Zey, which likes all light conditions and doesn’t require much watering. Best of all Zey is air purifying – ideal for the lounge!
I also bought two smaller snake plants called Susie to showcase on the alcove shelves. Susie is another fab plant – she doesn’t need much watering and is another air purifying plant, storing oxygen during the day and releasing it at night – she’d make an idea bedroom plant for that reason too.
What I liked about Patch Plants were that it was easy to find plants based on what room they were going to be in – plus they sent me easy step-by-step instructions via email on how to care for each of my plants after they were delivered. Great service and great plants – I’ve more confidence in keeping them alive now.
If you’d like to give Patch Plants a go (and if you spend over £50 with them), you can bag yourself a free plant by using my name (Lauretta Wright) as a code when checking out.
Retro rug & cushions
I was looking for a new rug for the room as the old one (as cosy as it was), was the wrong colour (green) and had seen better days. It was probably a little unhygienic too as we’d let the rabbits run round the living room in the early days and they’d weed on it more times than I care to remember.
So the large green rug went to live in the summerhouse and I was on the hunt for a new rug. I was aiming for a dark grey plain rug when I started to shop around, but when I spotted this gorgeous Monaco Area Distressed Rug by Safavieh on Fy (from £109), I couldn’t take my eyes off it.
I tried to ignore it and continued looking for a grey non-descript rug (for fear of clashing with the wallpaper), but I couldn’t stop thinking about the distressed-look rug.
As I always trust my gut feeling, I decided to bite the bullet and buy it for the living room, not knowing whether or not I was making the right decision. But I consoled myself that the rug could be moved into the office if necessary if it didn’t look right – I would make it fit somewhere in the house.
But I needn’t have worried – the eclectic look really suits the retro vibe and it’s definitely one of the room’s focal points. I catch myself admiring it every time I walk past.
The cushions meanwhile, are from IKEA. I chose ochre to echo the hues in the wallpaper and against the grey sofas they stand out nicely. And on the back of one of the sofas I’ve got a beautiful geometric print throw that I picked up at Habitat a few years ago – it fits in with the décor perfectly.
Retro style accessories
Most of the accessories that lined my alcove shelves I’ve kept, decluttering them only slightly. When I revamped the living room I introduced a mini library to the lounge, deciding to collect all the books from around the house to bring some life into the lounge and make it a more restful place.
VIP even went up into the loft to get some of his old books! Other favourite items that line my shelves include my ampersand sign and some Frida Kahlo tins I picked up online.
Meanwhile, with two empty walls to fill, I turned my attention to the artwork. I’m quite fussy when it comes to art; in the past I’ve preferred to showcase family photos. However, I was looking for a more grown-up vibe to the new living room so I decided to go on the hunt for some classy prints.
Most of them came from either Fy or Etsy – but they all have a personal meaning to me – places I’ve visited with VIP, things I admire, songs or slogans I admire or that evoke certain memories – and this was very important to me. Artwork for me not only has to fit in with the theme of the room – it also has to ‘spark joy’ as Marie Kondo would say.
My favourite print is probably my ‘Around The World’ poster (Daft Punk Airlines) – it’s unique, I love travel – and I also loved the song ‘Around The World’ by Daft Punk.
I’m a huge tech fan and in saying this, I might have just saved the best addition to my retro-inspired living room for last – the gorgeous 55-inch Samsung The Frame QLED Art Mode TV from John Lewis.
There are a number of features I love about the new telly, but the two things that stand out the most are its ‘no gap’ feature, which means it hangs on the wall just like a picture frame. And secondly, when it’s turned onto standby, it actually looks just like a picture hanging on the wall! You can see brush strokes and all close up (choose from a library of prints or even use your own photos), and you’d never even guess it’s a TV.
The technology behind it is also super cool – you can talk to the remote control (as you would with Siri on an iPhone for example) and ask it to do things. It’s also 4K, which means VIP is kept sweet and you can control all compatible devices with just one remote control.
That pretty much wraps up my retro inspired living room and updating my décor really has been like a breath of fresh air. I love spending time in the room – it evokes a sense of calmness somehow (maybe it’s the plants!), and as I’m still in the honeymoon phase of living with my newly decorated room, I find myself wandering into the room for no other reason other than to just to look at it and admire my hand work.
In fact, I’ve enjoyed updating the room so much that I’m raring to get cracking on the next room now – the kitchen. Only trouble is, I’ll need to sell a few things on eBay now to relinquish those much-needed funds for a spruce up! Wish me luck!
Let me know if you like what I’ve done to turn my living room around – and what aspects you particularly like about it!
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