Select a vintage color scheme that's a fit for your family.

How to Select Vintage Color Schemes

by Meg Winkler

Picking a new color scheme is a challenging but exciting way to breathe new life into your home. Find your inspiration in days gone by – from the Jazz Age to the era of Woodstock – and easily update your home with a nod to the past. By using the color wheel to your advantage, taking inspiration from vintage media, and really considering the mood you want for your room, selecting a vintage color scheme is so much fun, the kids will want to help.

Pick a Decade

Do you want the exotic hues that colored the 1920s, or is a brightly tinted “Mad Men”-inspired palette more to your liking? Once you determine which decade you want to emulate, the color scheme flows naturally. Peacock blue, dusty purple-mauve, Chinese red and silver-gray were popular in the 1920s. The ‘30s and ‘40s were all about textiles and paint in pink-tan, hunter green, orchid and vanilla-cream. If you go for the cheerfulness of 1950s decor, you should pick hues in chartreuse, flamingo-pink, dark slate-grey, bright lilac and sunny yellow. If a retro 1960s or 1970s feel is more to your liking, pick tones of avocado green, harvest gold, rust orange, navy blue, bright turquoise and cream.

Get Inspired by Media

Flip through vintage magazines or tune in to one of the many television shows that are set in another decade. Crews for shows and films such as “That ‘70s Show,” “Mad Men” and “The Great Gatsby” build sets that are historically accurate, which makes them great resources for finding the color palette that meets your decor dreams. On your next trip to the recycled bookstore with the kids, peruse the magazine racks for inspiration. Take an old car ad from the 1960s to your favorite hardware store. Most paint departments can scan and create paint colors from any source.

Use the Color Wheel

Set the mood by picking colors that are close to one another for a relaxing atmosphere or select ones that are directly across from each other for a dramatic effect. A royal blue rug paired with a silver-gray sofa against a dusty mauve wall color gives your living room a “Roaring Twenties” feel without it being a jarring experience to walk into the room. Take a hint from the ‘50s when decorating a game room for the kids. Bright ocean blue and flamingo pink sit opposite one another on the color wheel and make the room a lively retreat where creativity blossoms.

Be Honest With Yourself

There are a few very important questions you need to ask yourself. Can you live with that avocado green couch? What about turquoise kitchen walls? Consider the woodwork in the room. If it’s dark, a Gatsby-inspired hunter green will make the space feel smaller. Think about how the room will be used. A cream-colored sectional is less kid-friendly than one in a darker shade. Is the room a formal space, or will the kids be playing there? Go for bold colors in your dining room to amp up the drama, such as a combination of dark gray and chartreuse. Infuse playful space-age colors into the playroom, where toys and books will act as accessories anyway.

About the Author

Meg Winkler began professionally writing in 2008. She has covered a variety of topics including fine wine, interiors, the arts, lifestyle and history. Winkler has been a luxury publications editor and music critic. She is an independent author and holds a Master of Arts from American Military University.

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