Friday, 26 July 2013

Article by Charlotte Stafford

Incorporating ceramics into your lounge design

The retro look is everywhere at the moment. Sit back and take a look on TV, in magazines and in the shops, and mid-century style stares back from every direction.

Consider the hit US TV series Mad Men with its gorgeously seductive interiors, singing with 1960s sophistication – don't we all want a piece of that? Well, here is the good news, a slice of that retro-licious look in our homes is easy to achieve!

Nobody wants to live in a time warp, so the key to a successful retro look in the home is to mix and match with modern pieces. The signature themes to look out for are clean lines, bold colours, simple, organic shapes and a playful approach to pattern and texture.

Where to start with the retro re-vamp?

The lounge is the perfect place to begin experimenting with retro style. As always, if the basics are right from the beginning, the rest tends to follow naturally. Choose seating carefully as it is very much central to the room. There is the Austin Powers school of thought that encourages the long recliners in purple leather perched upon orange shag pile carpet – although this is perfectly valid, is it a look that could be tolerated on a daily basis? Far better to edge in the direction of the more restrained Skandi-retro look which draws from a more sober colour palette and an emphasis on materials such as wood, ceramics and glass. There is some really lovely furniture being manufactured today in styles that fit perfectly in a mid-century room, sofas with delicate pale wood frames built with elegance and comfort in mind.

Once the sofa has been decided upon, fun can be had developing the rest of the ideas. Think glass or ceramic topped coffee tables, kitsch retro lighting, sleek sideboards and shelving units in mellow teak and pale elm or ash. Underline all these 50s and 60s flavours with killer accessories. Highly patterned textiles inspired by Lucienne Day and Terence Conran add authenticity and placed alongside some cool retro styled ceramics, the look really begins to rock. For the ultimate nostalgic note try using classic retro shades such as avocado and mustard yellow alongside contemporary hues like teal and raspberry.

On walls these shades can sometimes sit a little flat, but are lifted fantastically with coloured ceramics. Whether gleaming and glossy or subdued and laid back, there is no doubting the power of ceramics to energise a room. Retro pieces have a distinctive style and arranged collectively against a strong contrasting colour, can look stunning. Grouping pieces by shade or shape is eye-catching; a display of decorative plates on a wall livens up a dull corner. Try placing favourite pieces in high traffic areas to ensure they get the attention they deserve. Trawl car boot sales and flea markets for interesting pieces, looking out for vintage marques such as Portmeirion, Hornsea and Poole or check out fabulous modern ceramics with a contemporary retro take. 

So yes, it is relatively easy to achieve the retro lounge look without too much hard work. Start by investing in some well crafted, period look furniture, being fearless with bold ceramics and textiles, and perhaps watching a few Mad Men DVDs for inspiration... how hard can it be?