Life in the Past Lane

As you celebrate SG50, let nostalgia be your guide and give your home a retro makeover with styles from the past

Issue: Aug 2015

In design terms, retro refers to styles that span the 1950s to1970s and going retro is one of the best ways of honouring Singapore's modern history
In design terms, retro refers to styles that span the 1950s to1970s and going retro is one of the best ways of honouring Singapore’s modern history

Thanks to vibrant hues and the wild combination of different materials and patterns, retro home décor appeals to those who appreciate the quirky and kitsch, and want to inject playfulness into their homes. Simply put, retro means ‘looking back’. In design terms, it refers to styles spanning the 1950s to 1970s, which makes it particularly fitting as we celebrate Singapore’s jubilee year

If you want to give your home a nostalgic makeover, here is how to get started.

Blast from the Past

A retro rotary phone (S$99); vintage coffee grinder (S$59.95) ; hot water flask (S$39)
(Left to right) A retro rotary phone (S$99) connects you with the past (right); while this vintage coffee grinder (S$59.95) lets you hand-grind your coffee the old fashion way. Store your brewed coffee in the vintage May Mug Reverie by Scene Shang, reminiscent of grandma’s hot water flask (S$39)
Photo credit: Kiitos (picture on left); Totally Hot Stuff (picture in centre); Naiise (picture on right)

One of the easiest ways to create a retro look is by decorating your home with items from that era. That way, you can inject elements from the past without a major overhaul. Old telephones, radios, televisions, sewing machines, fans, enamel dinner ware, wooden cabinets with glass doors – the list of vintage items that you can get to add authenticity to your retro-styled home is endless. Just think of the things you grew up with or what grandma used to have and you will have a pretty good idea of what retro décor is all about.

Old shapes with new uses – (left) a clock and table lamp housed in an old-fashioned rotary telephone and speakers shaped like an old radio lets you go retro while enjoying your mod-cons
Old shapes with new uses – (left) a clock and table lamp housed in an old-fashioned rotary telephone and speakers shaped like an old radio lets you go retro while enjoying your mod-cons
Photo credit: Totally Hot Stuff
Few things say vintage like a vinyl record collection so equip yourself with a turntable like the Signature 10 for the sound of those good ol' days
Few things say vintage like a vinyl record collection so equip yourself with a turntable like the Signature 10 (S$9,800) for the sound of those good ol’ days
Photo credit: House of Turntables

A Riot of Colours

Film Tissue Roll Holder (S$15) and Rubik Cube Mug reinvents icons from the past for newer uses
Film Tissue Roll Holder (S$15) and Rubik Cube Mug reinvents icons from the past for newer uses
Photo credit: Totally Hot Stuff

A riot of colours is the other defining quality of retro style - primary colours of the 60s, and avocado green, mustard yellow, and orange of the 70s. Pick two or three key colours and stick with them throughout the house. Going for all the colours at once creates a psychedelic effect best left to Austin Powers movies.

Brightly-coloured cushion (S$28) , FARM depicting rainbow-hued pre-war shophouses (S$8)
(top)These brightly-coloured cushion (S$28) covers by Wheniwasfour designed to look like hawker stall signs advertising local foods will give you a taste of nostalgia as will the Shophouse Tin Cans by FARM depicting rainbow-hued pre-war shophouses (S$8)
Photo credit: Naiise
Embrace Me Cushion Covers by Scene Shang (S$25); Samsui Women bookends by Little Red Box (S$68); fridge magnets by Sibeynostalgic (S$10)
Singapore’s colourful past can add colour to your retro décor, too: Embrace Me Cushion Covers by Scene Shang (S$25) featuring Singapore’s historic buildings; Samsui Women bookends by Little Red Box (S$68); and fridge magnets that remind of Singapore’s link to the various dialect groups by Sibeynostalgic (S$10)
Photo credit: Naiise

Be creative in where you want those splashes of colour. Walls and furniture aside, soft furnishings, lighting, and decorative items can all bring the rainbow indoors.

Quintessential retro lighting include (left) the lava lamp with its hypnotic floating globules and (right) pendant lamps in bright colours
Quintessential retro lighting include (left) the lava lamp with its hypnotic floating globules and (right) pendant lamps in bright colours
Photo credit: Kiitos (picture on left) and Sense N Bedeck (picture on right)

Shaping Up Well

Geometric shapes of the Happy Together Pencil Holder by Shanghai (S$75.05) are ideal for a retro-themed home
Geometric shapes of the Happy Together Pencil Holder by Shanghai (S$75.05) are ideal for a retro-themed home
Photo credit: Naiise

Geometric shapes, abstract patterns, paisley, checks, tie-dye prints are all part of the fun mish-mash that is retro. Combined with different colours and materials, the result is visually exciting.

Mix angular seats like the Stark 3 Seater Sofa and The Maverick Armchair with soft bean bags like this Large Bak Chang Bean Bag by Little Red Box
(Left to right) Mix angular seats like the Stark 3 Seater Sofa and The Maverick Armchair (S$998) with soft bean bags like this Large Bak Chang (meat dumpling) Bean Bag by Little Red Box (S$179.90) for a mix-and-match retro look
Photo credit: Scanteak (picture on left) and Naiise (picture on right)

Retro furniture also comes in a particular shape. Sofas tend to be elongated and angular. This is contrasted with round swivel seats and formless bean bags as well as circular light fixtures. If you haven’t already guessed it, retro is all about throwing things together for an effect that is unexpected yet harmonious.

Round lighting fixtures were the favoured shapes of the 60s and 70s which played up well against angular furniture
Round lighting fixtures were the favoured shapes of the 60s and 70s which played up well against angular furniture
Photo credit: Sense N Bedeck

Doing up a home in retro style can be so liberating because of the wide array of possibilities when it comes to colours, shapes, and material. Experimentation is the key. As you remember how far we have come as a nation, let your free spirit run wild and have fun living life in the past lane!

Shop with us:

Crate and Barrel
2 Orchard Turn
ION Orchard
#04-21/22, #03-05
Singapore 238801
Tel: (65) 6634 4222
www.crateandbarrel.com
House of Turntables
68 Orchard Road
Plaza Singapura
#04-65
Singapore 238939
Tel: (65) 6884 4390
www.turntablesolutions.com
Kiitos
68 Orchard Road
Plaza Singapura
#03-26
Singapore 238839
Tel: (65) 6238 8030
www.kiitos.com.sg
Naiise
3 Gateway Drive
West Gate
#01-30
Singapore 608532
Tel: (65) 6702 3248
www.naiise.com
Scanteak Signature
1 Vista Exchange Green
The Star Vista
#B1-14
Singapore 138617
Tel: (65) 6694 0171
www.scaneteak.com.sg
Scanteak Signature
3 Gateway Drive
#03-31
Westgate
Singapore 608532
www.scaneteak.com.sg
Sense N Bedeck
2 Jurong East Street 21
IMM
#03-16
Singapore 609601
Tel: (65) 6896 2452
www.sandbgroup.net
Totally Hot Stuff
201 Victoria Street
Bugis+
#02-51/52
Singapore 188067
Tel: (65) 6341 9223
www.totallyhotstuff.com
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