Ideas

30 Vintage Living Room Ideas for a Nostalgic Retro Feel

Never been a fan of the most contemporary design trends? Let's turn your living room into a tasteful time machine that matches your definition of vintage.

Retro vibes, a shabby chic twist, inspiration from the 60s or perhaps even the roaring twenties: there are so many different ways to add a vintage touch to your living room.

To help you embrace the right vintage nuance for your own preferences, our interior design experts have scouted for a large variety of examples and tips that you can experiment with.

From small nostalgic accents to a living room that will make your guests wonder if they've accidentally traveled back in time, here's what your vintage vision could look like.

1. Start with a mid-century modern sofa

Lalaklak Interior Architects

With it being the core element of your seating area, opting for a mid-century twist for your sofa is an excellent way to introduce a strong vintage vibe in your living room.

The most important part is a horizontal feel, so focus on a long design with a slightly lower back height.

Other iconic mid-century modern elements are slanted wooden legs, warm-colored fabric upholstery, or brown leather.

2. Add a Persian rug…

Living room with a vintage rug
Wendy O'Brien Interior Planning & Design

Persian rugs are both timeless and full of nostalgic vibes, so they can be the perfect addition to your vintage living room.

Choose a decorative design full of ornate patterns and harmonious lines, but don’t forget to take your palette into consideration to keep it consistent.

An aged or faded effect wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

3. … or make a retro rug the star of the show

Black and white geometric rug
Madison Modern Home

Bold geometric patterns were extremely popular with different 20th-century interior styles, and especially in mid-century modern homes from the 50s and 60s or with trends from the 70s, too.

From recognizable shapes to more creative geometric patterns, these rugs can really tie your living room decor together while showcasing your retro inspiration.

How about one that creates a bold contrast like with this black and white design?

4. Use geometric shapes as accents, too

Sofa with cushions including geometric patterns
Tobi Fairley

Geometric shapes and patterns were so popular with retro interiors that it’d be a shame to only introduce them through a rug!

Think of smaller but noticeable accent items too, such as cushions, artwork, vases, or lamps.

For the best results and to avoid an overwhelming feel, introduce them against a monochrome background.

5. Include a vintage mirror frame

Vintage living room with shabby chic elements
Nichole Loiacono Design

An extremely ornate mirror frame will instantly showcase your vintage inspiration, so don’t be afraid to go big!

As for styles, we especially recommend decorative designs in a golden or silver hue. Oval shapes are especially popular with vintage living rooms, but you can also experiment with more creative ones like this stunning example.

And, if you’re really obsessed with these frames, choose similar ones for your pictures, too.

6. Include a modern console table or cabinet

Mid-century modern living room corner
Zigzag Studio Design

For a stronger mid-century modern vibe, don’t forget to include a console table that embodies this vintage style’s iconic features.

For example, a horizontal feel can be achieved both by choosing long but short designs and by including drawers in the same style. Consider warmer or darker wood finishes, a combination of wood and glass, thin or slanted legs, and an asymmetrical mix of open and closed storage.

7. Consider an apothecary chest

Vintage living room with an apothecary chest
Trish Kachel Apothecary Design

This is a vintage living room idea that can convey more of a nostalgic and antique feel rather than a modern retro vibe.

With their range of small drawers, these pieces are the opposite of the clean lines and minimalist elements that characterize contemporary furniture, so display them proudly.

You can add to their intrinsic vintage feel by opting for a wooden model with a distressed finish.

8. Include eye-catching chairs

Modern living room chairs
Katie Hodges Design

Rather than the bulkiest armchairs with an attention-grabbing backrest, choosing smaller chairs is a wiser idea in vintage living rooms where space isn’t a luxury: they’ll help you inspire an airier feel instead of getting in the way of your visual flow.

An instantly recognizable modern design includes the combination of a wooden frame with clean lines and some leather upholstery.

9. Use the right mixture of painted walls and wallpaper

Nostalgic vintage living room section
Heidi Caillier Design

If, when thinking of vintage living rooms, you instantly picture the most decorative wallpaper, go on and cover your main walls with it!

Worried that it’s gonna feel too overwhelming?

Here’s a practical compromise: stick to white or monochrome walls in most of your living room but use wallpaper on an accent wall or a separate section, like in this delightful example.

10. Create a warm vintage palette

Living room with warm colors and wood
Jamie Bush

This isn’t to say that cold hues can’t work in vintage living rooms.

However, warm colors like yellow, ochre, orange, beige, and brown are especially tactical when it comes to inspiring a nostalgic retro vibe.

Plus, they’ll work divinely with the wooden finishes of your vintage or modern furniture.

11. Include dark wood finishes

Living room with white walls and dark wood
Heidi Caillier Design

While lighter options make more sense in contemporary homes, dark wood finishes were definitely more popular in modern and vintage living rooms.

They’ll easily help you maintain a nostalgic feel that blends coziness and sophistication.

However, dark wood finishes can also make a small room feel even more cramped, so we mainly recommend them in large or, at least, particularly bright settings.

12. Create some contrast against dark walls

Vintage living room with navy walls
Katie Geddes Interiors

If you’d rather opt for darker walls in a strong saturated hue, decorate them wisely with lighter-colored items or some on the opposite side of the wheel.

That way, you’ll create a visually interesting contrast while avoiding a heavy feel.

See how well it works for this living room with a hay-style mirror, bright yellow lamp, and salmon sofa against a navy wall?

13. Sit around a corner sofa

Vintage living room with a corner sofa
JL Interior Design, LLC

If the layout of your living room allows it, the introduction of a corner sofa could help you further emphasize the warmth behind your cozy nostalgic inspiration, allowing your household and guests to gather together.

The most logical ways to position a corner sofa are along two perpendicular walls or, in larger settings, the middle of the room to separate your seating area from the rest of the living room.

14. Blend a neutral base and colorful accents

Vintage sofa with bright cushions
Maureen Stevens Design

A beautiful, balanced idea for your vintage living room palette is to choose light neutral colors for larger items, such as a beige or light gray sofa.

Then, help them pop by introducing smaller accents in attention-grabbing hues, like these fuchsia and green cushions.

15. Make a bold statement with a large artwork

Retro room with an artwork above the fireplace
Michelle SABIN Interior Design

Whether that’s your largest wall or the spot above your fireplace or console cabinet, decorating the main focal point in your living room could help you reinforce its vintage vibes.

For example, you could introduce a large print consisting of a design with geometric shapes or a charming, nostalgic painting.

16. Brighten it up with some vintage lighting fixtures

White living room with colorful furniture
Claire Campbell Mint Home Decor

There are so many different vintage lamps you can experiment with depending on what decades you’re drawing inspiration from.

For example, scout for Tiffany lamps for an art nouveau or art deco vibe, simple geometric shapes for mid-century modern twists, or bold patterns and plastic designs for a 70s touch.

Overall, empire lamp shades never fail to convey a more generic vintage feel.

17. Try a vintage living room with a shabby chic twist…

Vintage shabby chic living room
Andrea West Design

With vintage vibes being a core element of shabby chic interiors, why not embrace the rest of this style, too?

We especially recommend it if you love feminine and highly decorative interiors.

Start with a palette including an abundance of white, light pastel colors, and pink, fuchsia, or red accents. Choose furniture and items with an aged feel, harmonious lines, and heavily ornate elements.

18. … a colorful boho take…

Vintage room with boho elements
Slic Design

70s interiors in particular were characterized by heavily saturated elements and sections.

The same bold color choices are found in bohemian interiors too, so you could blend the two to create your own take on boho vintage living rooms.

Think patterns, natural wood finishes, and some more iconic boho elements such as rattan furniture and eclectic decorative items.

19. … or a Hollywood regency room!

Bold and opulent Hollywood regency living room
Lisa Gilmore Design

Does your idea of vintage living rooms stem from the opulent homes of movie stars and directors from Hollywood’s golden age?

Then impress your guest with interiors where each piece looks as if it were one of a kind, and don’t hold yourself back when pairing up contrasting colors.

Other iconic Hollywood regency choices are animal prints, different textures, and glam, golden, glass, mirrored, or lacquered surfaces and accents.

20. Make your vintage living room more eclectic

Vintage living room with different styles
Steve Somogyi and Filip Malyszko, steve + filip design

If you’re not a fan of perfect symmetries and cohesive results, you might want to consider drawing inspiration from different decades rather than fully embracing a specific vintage style.

For example, get creative by including eye-catching elements that, as well as different time periods, look as if they had been found in quirky shops or markets in other parts of the world.

21. Keep it cozy

Vintage living room with wooden furniture
Kristin Lam Interiors

While specific styles and influences make all the difference, at the end of the day your living room is still the place to gather with your family and friends: so, don’t sacrifice coziness in favor of decor.

Consider sticking to wooden furniture, a warm palette, and tactile textures that inspire comfort (for example, woolen blankets and fluffy pillows).

22. Include some Danish modern elements

Vintage living room with Danish chairs
NATALIE MYERS Veneer Designs

Here’s a creative take on vintage living rooms that brings style and coziness to the next level: some Scandinavian inspiration.

Danish modern design, in particular, offers the most possibilities since it boomed between the 40s and 60s.

As well as chairs with pure but creative lines, choose lighter wood finishes for more of a Scandinavian influence and warmer or darker ones to focus on the mid-century modern side of things.

23. Blend glass and wood

Vintage living room with bold colors
Kimball Starr Interior Design

Furniture that includes both wood and glass elements is another staple of retro interiors (mid-century modern and 70s homes in particular!).

Your coffee table is a central spot to experiment with this combination of materials, but you can find it in other pieces of furniture too, such as console tables and storage cabinets.

24. Gather around the fireplace

Vintage living room with a fireplace
Molly Erin Designs Inc

A cozy fireplace would certainly help reinforce the warmth and familiarity of vintage interiors.

If your living room includes one, position your retro furniture so that you can all gather around it, and use the mantelpiece to display a carefully crafted selection of items that add to your palette and vintage style.

25. Consider an antique kind of vintage living room decor

Antique vintage livi
Jessica Helgerson Interior Design

Perhaps your idea of vintage goes further back than 70s glam and mid-century modern homes?

Then prioritize much darker furniture and wooden accents for an antique feel.

Heavily ornate pieces (for example, including cabriole legs or wood carvings) and sophisticated accents (like pendulum clocks) are the kind of elements you’re after. Curio cabinets are also a must with this type of vintage decor.

26. Showcase your attention to detail

White vintage living room
The Rustic Warehouse Designs

You don’t necessarily need to go overboard with your vintage living room! If you’d rather opt for a more subtle nod to this decorative style, channel it through smaller items and elements.

For example, this living room involves a fairly traditional decor style, but it’s made nostalgic through more ornate elements like the column-style layout of the fireplace, cupboard doors with recessed panels, and thoughtfully placed decorative items on the shelves.

27. Make the most of your coffee table

Vintage living room coffee table
Willadsen Design

Glass and wooden designs, ornate legs, aged finishes, retro pastel colors, mid-century modern legs… There are lots of different coffee table designs that you can consider for your vintage living rooms!

Because it’s right in the middle of your seating area, though, it’s the items you place on it that’ll make all the difference: be sure to include some retro or nostalgic ones, from old book editions to ceramic souvenirs.

28. Include some starburst designs

Vintage living room with a starburst mirror
Laura Lee Home

It’d be hard not to find any of these shapes in 50s and 60s homes!

The iconic starburst design is an immediate giveaway of your vintage inspiration, and you can use it through one or more of these strategic elements: mirrors, picture frames, overhead lights, clocks, and smaller decorative items on shelves.

29. Relax on some leather upholstery

Vintage living room with leather seats
Designology Luxury Interiors

Leather furniture is sophisticated and timeless, but there are certain designs and colors that were particularly popular over the past decades.

For instance, consider brown and tan leather, tufting or channeling, long horizontal shapes, wooden legs, or instantly recognizable sofa designs like the chesterfield.

30. Include a showstopping floor lamp

Vintage living room with a 70s floor lamp
Kimball Starr Interior Design

As well as a vintage table lamp and a starburst overhead light, you could impress everyone with a bold floor lamp that’s both functional and decorative.

Colorful and rounded dome shades are a great starting point for a 70s vibe, especially if paired up with nickel finishes. Victorian lamp shades (perhaps with fringes) convey more of a nostalgic vintage feel, or just focus on retro designs with geometric shapes.

Foter Magazine is a premier architecture, decoration, interiors and design website. We inspire and guide you to make your home a more attractive place.

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