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August 12th, 2008
Mid-Century Design & Retro Modern Rugs
India
 
If you read my personal blog, Apartment 528, you know I'm a fan of all things retro. The mid-century period (1950-70) was a time of change, the height of American pop culture, and the dawn of great design - much of which was Scandinavian. New "modern" homes were built for happy young couples while stores filled with the likes of Eames, Saarinen, and Jacobsen.
 
Though the times have changed, most vintage designs are still around today creating the classic look we call mid-century modern or retro modern. Unfortunately, obtaining the perfect balance between livable retro and vintage junk can be hard. How much is too much? How far should you go? As someone who's turned their living room into a mid-century marvel (I'm my number one fan) I'm here to offer advice.
 
Without further ado, India's Rules of Retro Decorating
 
1) Chairs, Chairs Everywhere
 Mid-century design was all about chairs, from Bertoia's Diamond Chair to the infamous Eames Lounger. Consider replacing your loveseat with two lounge or side chairs. Not only does this give you the freedom to move seating around the next time you host a fondue party, but it also gives you the ability to be creative. Mix, match, and coordinate the chairs to your heart's desire. Need some chairspiration (chair + inspiration...I'm so funny!!)?
 

 
2) Get Teaky
 I saw a house for sale on craigslist the other day that was COMPLETELY covered in wood panelling. They described the house as a 70's throwback. Really? I couldn't tell! Panelling is good as an accent, but I much prefer the 50's take on wood - it stayed in furniture and decor. Teak was the prefered wood of choice for most designers. The rich, durable wood goes perfectly with vintage colors and instantly warms a space. Use teak furniture to give your room a firm base.
 

 
3) Dive into Color
 When it comes to retro decor, you can go neutral or be brave and add some color. I'm not recommending you turn your home into rainbow land; pops of color here and there will do the trick. There are basically two ways you can handle color: neutral furniture with bold accessories or bold furniture with neutral accessories. Either way, you can't fail.
 
 
4) Credenza
 Just about every retro furniture collector has a credenza. Why? Not only is it a defining piece, it's also versitle. You can use it as a buffet in the dining room or as a sidebar in an office. In my house, I mounted my LCD tv above the credenza to make it a real focal point. Top it off with a vase, candles, or neat little tchockes (see rule 6). I found this two-piece credenza on craigslist and have been in love with it ever since. It sold awhile ago but I still keep the picture as a memory!
 

5) The Little Things
 Yes, the aim of these rules was to help you avoid a house full of tchockes, but you need a few little pieces to complete the look. My favorite place for vintage decor is H is for Home, a European store that specializes in mid-century and one-off pieces. They have just about everything you could ever need for everyday, retro life, and a few things you never knew you needed! I love the pedastal ashtrayand funky trimphone. Victory Vintageis another great place to go if you're looking for decor...check out the cute cork lamps.
 

 
6) Shag Baby!
 You didn't think I'd go this far without mentioning a Domestic Modern rug did you?! This time it's the shag. The late 60's started the shag boom in America. From mustard yellow to avocado green, shag carpeting was everywhere. While I happen to love shag, having it wall-to-wall (and in those horrible colors) is definitely a faux pas. Instead, grab an area rug from Domestic Modern to give your floor the shag it desires. My favorite: the Wave Pattern Rug. I'd pair it with the Dux Couch I picked out earlier and use cream colored pillows and accessories to lighten the room.
 
7) The Final Reveal
 Here are a few pics from around the web to get your creative juices flowing: