‘Sooner or later, everything old is new again.’ – Stephen King
You only have to look around to see influences of days gone by and there are many terms that are used for describing design styles from our past; ‘Vintage’, ‘Retro’, ‘Antique’, ‘Mid- Century Modern’, and ‘Art Deco’. As a quick overview; When something is referred to as Antique, this generally means it is more than 100 years old. Vintage pieces are from the 20th century, however are not 100 years old, yet. Mid Century modern is a term than was coined in the 1950’s but covers furniture that was designed in period between 1930’s- 1960’s with functionality key. Art Deco generally refers to 1920-1930’s ornate styling. For many, the terms are confusing, but for the purpose of this piece, whilst much of the furniture that features tends to be mid century modern, we are looking at retro styling broadly. How can we incorporate design ideas anywhere from 1930’s onwards into our modern homes and really harness that decor with the help of fresh flowers and plants.
‘Retro’ is a pretty generalised term anyhow. It can pretty much cover any outdated furniture/pieces that have come back into favour for a multitude of reasons. Retro can be as personal as you wish it to be, and as kitsch! The term alone often conjours up images of psychedelic wallpaper and drapery for me, velour furniture, and just a bold use of colour.
After WW1 and WW2, people wanted ‘modern’ furniture and homes that lacked the ostentatious finishes that up until then had been standard. The style instead focused on functionality with clean lines, soft curves and the use of a variety of materials (often within one piece to create contrast). You will see a lot of wood teamed with vinyl or leather, or plastic or metal features. Many replica pieces that are found currently feature the turned wood legs that were popular within this style, although it must be noted that the style utilised any and every other material they could, unapologetically and often uncovered (i.e plastic) which had not been done up until that time.
What I love most about this broad theme is the fearlessness when it comes to colour. Strong, bright and earthy tones featured, and while neutral colour palettes do exist within this style, and black and white is often used in geometric contrast, typical colours used in this decorating style are; Mustard, Blue, Olive, Burnt Orange, Teal, Red and Chocolate.
The easiest way to use fresh flowers and living plants in this style is by incorporating some sort of plant stand. Turned wood plant stands are incredibly popular and easily sourced at the moment, as are macrame plant hangers. Both perfect examples of retro styling.
Ferns are ideal for hanging baskets if your preference is for something pendulous. Mother in laws tongue, a popular and easy to care fleshy plant often fits well in this style. They require little water and look ‘modern’. Some ceramic vessels or glass vases will sit well in these plant stands and provide an interesting way to display cut fresh flowers too. Try Philodendron or Monsteria Leaves in a vase for simplicity OR, try using vibrant coloured macrame teamed with a vase of contrasting coloured fresh flowers- think Orange, Blue, or Mustard.