American Vintage Interiors

When it comes to interior decor style, the term vintage tends to be a bit of a movable feast; adapted to suit whatever interpretation fits with a designer’s vision. A glance at the dictionary definition of the word is quite enlightening, it says: denotes something from the past of high quality. This means that in terms of interior style the term vintage has a very long reach indeed. However, in reality the most common understanding of vintage style in the context of interiors, is in the iconic designs of the nineteen forties, fifties and sixties, a period that doesn’t seem all that long ago. In the homes of our grandparents and parents, we frequently see furniture from this era, still going strong and looking wonderful.

Forties Flair

An American vintage interior with real forties flair should include generous helpings of glamor. The glossy look of the Hollywood era with its starlets and matinee idols was very influential and home interiors reflected this in their furnishings. In the bedrooms, satin frilled, color coordinated dressing tables with matching upholstered stools were popular, teamed with corresponding tailored bedspreads and button-backed headboards. Cream wall-to-wall wool carpet and textiles with plenty of flowery, chintzy flavors and scalloped and ruffled detailing added to the boudoir’s beauty. Living areas were more restrained and oozed cool elegance with simple dark wood furniture. Mirrored surfaces, a leftover from the art deco period, were still used to add opulence and window treatments were pared down and sleek. Today, highly lacquered interior shutters in unique colors and finishes enable interior designers to channel forties glamor, whilst accessing the convenience of a modern product. Original forties furnishings can be easily tracked down at auctions and specialist vintage stores. Look out also for classic accessories such as Bakelite telephones and reconditioned vintage radios for added authenticity.

Fifties Fun

American vintage interiors of the fifties used a lot of new materials such as chrome, Formica and linoleum. For the first time ever, paints were available in any color, and people didn’t hold back. Pastel shades in ice cream colors were popular in kitchens and today this look can be achieved combining retro styled modern appliances with vintage look textiles. Look out in garage sales for fifties style crockery, enamelware and Sunburst clocks to inject fifties fizz into a modern kitchen.

Sixties Sophistication

Vintage interior style really came into its own in the sixties. Taking advantage of all the new manufacturing processes, furniture products evolved. Whether it was the space age shapes of Verner Panton’s futuristic pieces or the restrained elegance of Ercol, furniture had moved on. Swedish wooden furniture became sought after and remains collectible today. The color palate broadened out into hot oranges, greens, slates and violets and geometric textiles and the atomic look made their marks. Today, the appeal of this sophisticated era blends well with contemporary interior design. To get this signature look watch out for sofas with simple elegant lines, candy-striped carpets and Scandinavian suspended shelving adorned with art pottery and jewel colored glass. When interior design inspiration is lacking, it’s always a good idea to reflect upon how they did it in the old days – and with vintage style, there are some quality looks to choose from.


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