Combining vintage style with urban chic creates a modern retro look

Mixing vintage styles with newer styles is very “cool” and a popular decorating style today. In some circles phrases like “Urban Chic” or “Fresh Vintage” are used instead of “retro”. It’s still “retro,” but a different take on the past when shoppers combine “edgy” vintage collectibles with contemporary-style furnishings and decor. Others understand “Urban Chic” a little differently and refer to the rise in popularity of collectors looking for metal furniture and industrial styles compatible with city life. Of course, this is also a throwback to earlier times. Metal fixtures and furniture dominated mid-century homes and were used for magazine racks, phone stands, ashtrays, seating, serving pieces, etc.

Today urbanites like to buy antique steel industrial shelving, antique metal desks and chairs, antique commercial desk accessories, and lots of factory finds to decorate lofts, apartments, and houses. This opens up a whole new market for sellers who are starting to look for items in unusual places. Suburban homes feature high-tech kitchen surfaces and lots of stainless steel. Buyers now love vintage metal canisters from the 1950s that seem to fit perfectly in today’s stylish kitchens. The “metro-retro” style is often combined with collectibles from the 50s, 60s and 70s to create eclectic interiors that are unusual, quirky and affordable.

If the industrial look isn’t your thing, there are other directions to consider. I have put in many younger collectors who gravitate towards the “bohemian style”. “Bohemian style” is what happens when your flea market pickup is out of control but in a good way. Somehow, collectors get the look together with unifying color schemes, themes, patterns, or rhythms that organize collections. Once again, collectors mix and match different eras, styles, textures, wall coverings, etc. And as seasoned decorators, bohemian collectors tell us “it works.” This style is difficult to explain, so I might suggest reading Elizabeth Wilhide’s Bohemian Style, a post by Watson Guptill. While collectibles from the ’60s and’ 70s have moved more slowly in physical stores than those of earlier periods, “fashion collectibles” are gaining momentum as department stores are emphasizing these styles. Designers are taking greater risks than in the past and it seems that buyers are once again being encouraged to experiment with home interiors, products and materials.

Let me remind you of what they said years ago “let it hang out.” In fact, both manufacturers of new products and collectors of old products are “doing their thing.” Numerous online businesses are growing with “hairy sixties” websites catering to shoppers who love pink, brown, and lime green palettes, as well as cheesy stripes, polka dots, and swirl patterns. In fact, there are web designers who specialize only in this style.

While shoppers in their “twenties and thirties” enjoy ordering new home and apparel items inspired by “psychedelic” colors and designs, mature collectors

They want the originals and are active buyers at flea markets, stores, and shows. Once a thrift store staple, colorful toasters and fondue sets are now “cool” finds for serious collectors and casual shoppers jumping on the “retro” bandwagon alike. The next time you lift your nose at a set of mushroom-patterned kitchen canisters, think again, you may be overlooking a true “retro” gem that even the Pottery Barn is keeping an eye on.

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