With the massive resurgence of retro style influencing all areas of interior design, kitsch is most definitely back. Previously a word that filled sensible homeowners with dread, kitsch is now a byword for cutting edge cool. Opting to go for a fully authentic retro theme in your home may initially feel like quite a large leap out of your comfort zone but it can also be extremely gratifying. You will be rewarded by a space that promotes fun, relaxation and interaction. Your rooms will have character and flair and make your home a much more sensually satisfying and tactile place to live. What’s more- magnolia will be gone for good!
Retro design can mean many things- there where so many great designers all doing different things and so many sub eras which took their own twists and turns. Here we will concentrate on the more kitsch end of the spectrum, the plastic fantastic years which really defined the time- no holding back!
Not only did the sixties give us so many new designs but it actually changed the way we live by popularising open plan living. The architects of the day were determined to create utopias which allowed us to live in communal harmony. Through an admittedly idealised notion, what it left us with was large, open living spaces that encouraged family interaction. Before you begin to think of what décor you might like, try to find ways of making your house as open plan as possible.
If taking down walls is a little out of budget, try widening doorways, use sliding doors and moveable screens to partition off rooms- try to increase the flow from one room to another. Where possible, define your spaces with large shag pile rugs rather than walls. A really adaptable option is to install curtain tracks on the ceiling around the perimeter of predetermined areas such as the living or dining space then hang from the tracks some aptly coloured curtain fabric (fuchsia pink anyone?!). This will give you the ability to section off areas whenever necessary, creating a truly interactive space.
If at this stage you have any walls left, look for floral or psychedelic print wallpapers made of vinyl in reds, purples or oranges. Alternatively, you could opt for classic black and white.
In a real break from the norm, wooden furniture will be completely disregarded. Instead go for plastic and anything that looks futuristic and space age. Wood is all too often lazily used by homeowners to add that feel of quality- show faith in plastic. The plastic era was a 1960s phenomenon, some of the all time classic pieces of furniture where designed by the worlds most iconic designers- you will not be found wanting for quality.
Wood junkies can still get there fix through wood veneer wall panels which where a big part of kitsch design. Pine boards applied in a tongue and groove manner and left unpainted sauna room style is most authentic way of doing it, although if you prefer, you can create a more subtle feel by using teak or a more contemporary feel by using walnut.
Create a laid-back environment by including lots of beanbags and oversized cushions scattered liberally. Look for fabric slipcovers with huge repeat patterns in an art nouveau style or with the graphic images of pop art. Fashion designers like Mary Quant and Christian Dior started designing for interiors as well and some of their fabrics can still be found today.
Lighting should be other-worldly. Choose from mesmerising lava lamps, neon-fibre optic lamps which change colour, Moroccan-inspired lamps or the ubiquitous paper lampshade.
Finally, look to add tongue-in-cheek accessories. Military uniforms displayed on tailors dummies, Busby hats, and Victoriana such as coronation plates and royal memorabilia, Warhol prints or blow up seating will all give depth and authenticity to the scheme.