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Implementing a Retro Look in Your Kitchen and Bathroom

Have you ever felt like you were born too late? Love the fashions, interiors, and lifestyle of a bygone decade? While you can’t build a time machine and go backward, you can create an ambiance of an earlier era with a few vintages and retro touches in your home, especially in the kitchen and bathrooms.

Often, a step back in time can be accomplished as simply as adding some antiques to space or changing paint or accessory color. But if you’d like to make sure your “retro” instincts are spot-on, it never hurts to have some professional help from experts such as the folks at Diamond Kitchen and Bath. We’ve been helping homeowners design and build kitchens in the Arizona valley since 1986. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

1. DECIDE WHERE IN TIME YOU BELONG

To avoid a “mishmash” or a cluttered effect, think carefully about which decade you prefer. If your house is already Mid-Century Modern, for example, you might embrace a ’50s-style kitchen with linoleum in black-and-white checks, terry-cloth toaster covers and tea cozies, chrome and vinyl furniture, and painted metal cabinets. Your bathroom can shine in pastel colors — blues were very popular, as were such shades as apricot and peach — and can be accessorized with bright flowered patterns on shower curtains, towels, and other linens.

On the other hand, if you’re a fan of the ’60s and ’70s, your “flower child” temperament will feel right at home amid the hues so popular then: avocado, harvest gold, and bronze. Tangerine orange goes naturally with this scheme, too…and don’t forget smiley faces! Think dark wood, especially teak, for everything from candlesticks to cabinets and chairs. To capture that “retro” spirit, many designers now paint kitchens and baths vivid greens and yellows and add daisy and other floral patterns to walls and light fixtures.

Do a little digging and you’ll soon find the era that speaks to you. Then, it’s just a matter of deciding on your overall color schemes and hunting out the vintage trimmings.

2. START YOUR DECOR SEARCH CLOSE TO HOME

Before you go shopping, think simple: vintage is easier to find than you might realize. Ask your relatives and extended family about things tucked in their attics; often these are gold mines. Offer to buy any of these things you especially like — but you might not even have to pay for them if the family member would just as soon get rid of the stuff! More than one kitchen or bath has given new life to an antique mixer, light sconce, or hooked rug while it “stays in the family.”

Garage sales are your next best bet, especially estate sales. Here, you can find great deals on items from furniture and lamps to dishes, glassware, and linens. If your finds are in good shape, you’ll score a great bargain by browsing these “outlets” rather than making your first stop a pricier vintage store. Even if you pick up something that needs a bit of refurbishment or cleaning, odds are you’ll still come out ahead. A little elbow grease can make the difference between trash and treasure in a hurry!

3.REMEMBER THAT LESS CAN BE MORE

Often, we get into “nostalgia overload” and want to deck a room stem-to-stern as it would have been in that earlier decade…until we actually have to live with the results. (Anyone who’s sat on one of those Victorian-era horsehair chairs knows this already!) In the interests of both your budget and your sanity, then, try out touches of retro-era décor rather than plunging full-tilt into remaking a room from the ground up. Often, you’ll find that a little goes a long way. For example, black-and-white linoleum or tile is a look that’s timeless; red vinyl stools with steel bases may look stale after a while.

One key in vintage decorating is the overall feel of the time, rather than matching every individual detail. Unless you’re outfitting a museum, don’t be afraid to mix things up, even mingle several decades’ worth of collectibles if they appeal to you. After all, that’s how most of our homes looked as we grew up!

WHEN IN DOUBT, GET HELP TO SORT IT OUT

Surrounding yourself with vintage and retro treasures you love can turn an ordinary kitchen or bath into a place that makes you smile. And the design pros at Diamond Kitchen and Bath know how to coordinate the right mix to keep that smile on your face. Stop in, or check out our website, and get “grooving”!

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