February 20, 2021

Go Retro with These Vintage Paint Colours

Go Retro with These Vintage Paint Colours

Thanks to the popularity of Instagram photo filters and our love of all things nostalgic, vintage colours have made an extraordinary comeback in recent years. In fashion, the "grand millennial" movement sees young adults emulating their grandparent's eclectic style. When it comes to interiors, more people than ever want shabby chic and retro vibes.

Thankfully, it's easy to recreate the distinctive looks from the 1950s to the 1980s. You don't need to splash out on expensive antique furniture or go crazy with Warhol prints. Instead, choose the right colours, experiment with clashing, upcycle furniture, play with textures and draw from your past.

What colours are vintage?

Vintage colours span many hues, but the earlier palettes tended to be less saturated and more muted. Bright shades were swapped for neutrals, drawing heavily from creams, browns, tans and taupes. Many wall paints had a yellowish tinge, which gave rooms their signature well-worn look.

As time passed, everything became more garish. Over-the-top geometric prints, textured wallpaper, lacquered furniture, art-deco pieces and glitzy gold trim characterised the 1980s. Neutrals were out – reds, blues, greens and pastels were in. Oh, and people had a thing for neon, but we won't mention that (some trends should never be repeated).

With so many influences to choose from, it can be challenging to know what's right for your home. To help you get started, we've put together some expert tips and colour recommendations that perfectly encapsulate the era.

Opt for bold focal walls

While neutral colours may give the illusion of more space, they risk looking a little bland. In contrast, coloured paint injects kitchens, bedrooms, dining rooms, bathrooms and hallways with personality. Plus, bold walls make exceptional focal points, especially when decorated with cute flea market knick-knacks, fluorescent signs and pop-art posters.

If you're feeling brave, opt for a darker shade of green or blue. The rich colours complement stripped-back wooden furniture and floors, while the matte finish adds a touch of up-to-date elegance without compromising the vintage feel.

Experiment with colour clashing

Embody the period's fearlessness by experimenting with colour clashing. The trendiest combinations of yesteryear were undeniably flamboyant - mauve and turquoise, pink and green, orange and blue. There were no rules, which gave interior designers bucket loads of freedom to create the kind of lively styles we've not seen since.

If you prefer more structure, you can still achieve the same effect with minimal colours. You need three paints - black, white and a colour of your choice (we suggest something bold like pink or teal). Whatever shade you choose is bound to work and stand out against the simple monochrome backdrop, which saves you the stress of potentially not liking the finished result.

Want more colour inspiration for your vintage upcycling projects? Check out Frenchic's selection of the top 100 quotes about colour

Revamp tired furniture

On the one hand, retro furniture embodies the abstract and takes inspiration from pop-culture and out-there graphic design. Every piece is a showpiece designed to dazzle and delight dinner guests. On the other hand, woodwork retains its genuine grooves and grains. It's untouched and untampered with to create a well-used, authentic look. Luckily, we have ways to cater to both preferences.

If you're drawn to the gorgeous barstools and shiny monochrome tiles of American diners, revamp furniture in red, black and white. Many traditional 1950s establishments also included a healthy dose of baby blue (something like Anguilla will do the trick). For something simpler, give old tables and chairs a new lease of life with a fresh coat of brown.

Whatever furniture paint you pick, you're guaranteed an exceptional finish. Our all-natural chalk and mineral paint has no toxins or added VOCs. Plus, it's smooth and self-levelling, which eradicates unsightly brush marks and provides effortless coverage.

For more inspiration and to see how the paint sits, browse through our gorgeous upcycling makeovers. After seeing the transformations, you'll be raring to start your own.

Play with texture

Shag carpets, smooth plastics, woven throws, crushed velvet and soft vinyl – it's safe to say vintage and retro design loved textures. Much like paint colours, experimentation took centre stage, and the finished rooms were a sensory delight. 

An effortless way to introduce more texture to your space is by using Easy Crackle. When applied between two contrasting colours of Frenchic furniture paint, it creates an aged appearance and gives surfaces much more depth. 

The first coat determines the crack's colour, and the second the overall colour of the project. The finished product will look well-used and much-loved – even if it's brand-new off the shelf.

Draw from your past

What images come to mind when you think about your childhood? Perhaps, you see the white foam, red umbrellas and gentle blue waves of seaside holidays or the rolling green hills of UK staycations. Maybe, you remember your first date (sorry to bring that up) and the buttery yellow popcorn in the pictures. Or was it the fashion? Electric purple eyeshadow, oversized brown blazers and faded denim bell bottoms (sorry again).

While trends existed, retro is inherently personal to your experience, and part of its popularity is it invokes feelings of fond retrospection (see the link?). For this reason, choose colours that mean something to you. Create a space that, in Marie Kondo's words, sparks joy. Rooms should be a fun blast from your past, rather than generically inspired.

Find the perfect vintage and retro paint colours with Frenchic

Above all else, retro and vintage paint colours are fun, curious and unique. They span a kaleidoscopic array of shades, and there's no one-size-fits-all approach when choosing a palette. That's why, at Frenchic, we offer a vast range of award-winning paint to suit all tastes and styles.

From our Original Artisan Range and New and Improved Lazy Range to our collection of Chalk Wall Paint and Easy Crackle, there are plenty of options to bring your retro memories back to life.  Plus, our all-natural and eco-friendly products have no hidden nasties. You get exactly what it says on the tin.

To get started, simply browse our selection today or for more inspiration, take a look at some of our customers' vintage upcycling projects on Frenchic TV. 


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