Top 10 ways to capture 20th-century style, in a 21st-century setting

The ubiquitousness of patterns, designs and pieces that you, your parents or your grandparents recognise from the first time around all point to the fact that our appetite for the best of 20th-century style shows no sign of flagging. But unless you want to live in a time warp, then bringing retro into your rooms needs a little care so the overall effect is 21st century. Find the easiest routes to success…

In at number one…The patterns of bygone decades were nothing if not confident. Put them in a more modern context by framing them with clean, plain colour. This Starflower wallpaper from Little Greene looks fabulous contrasted with white panelling.

Up one place to number two… Retro-look lighting is the understated way to success. It’ll add a subtle ambience to a room without shouting. This pendant Battersea light from Garden Trading (at ACHICA) has early 20th-century French bistro style.

At number three…Upcycling is all the rage, so join the trend with a vintage chair you can have re-upholstered and put alongside a modern sofa.

Climbing to number four…Make a highlight of one classic, fabulous design such as the DSW chair, designed by Charles and Ray Eames. Don’t over-complicate the scheme with pieces of a similar era – just enjoy the comfort and style. Kitchen shutters (below), Shutterly Fabulous.

At number five…Dress up the dining part of a kitchen-diner with retro wallpaper. All-over risks taking your room back in time, but using it to define an area brings personality to the room.

In at number six…Contemporary, boxy sofas in neutral tones look great with a splash of retro colour and pattern from cushions. The trick is to mix designs in complementary tones.

At number seven…Look out for fashion-forward colourways for retro-style pattern. Whether they’re on wallpapers, fabrics or other pieces, the latest shades will mean there’s no doubt your interior is modern. Fifi by Sanderson for Portmeirion.

Up one place to number eight…Treat kitchens carefully by contrasting bright retro-patterned accessories with quiet, sleek natural wood finishes and plain white tableware.

At number nine…Contrast in the lines of your room will save it from looking trapped in amber. Tapering legs and sweeping lines set against squarer pieces make for an up-to-date effect. Retro bed from The Sleep Room.

In at number ten…Create a surprise with colour. If the 70s and orange will be forever associated in your mind, pick a pattern from the decade in a shade you wouldn’t expect: blacks and greys can look fabulous.

The ACHICA Living blog brings you style inspiration from ACHICA.

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Sarah Warwick, Guest Editor

View all posts by Sarah Warwick, Guest Editor