Retro Wallpaper Contrasts Contemporary Space

By Jessica Ackerman

The impact of retro wallpaper:

Wallpaper that has the look of belonging in the years from the 1940’s to the 1970’s is usually considered retro. The floral, striped, or geometrical patterns in colors like orange, brown, aqua, and grey are unmistakable. Most of the time they have a bold and stylized look that is different from the contemporary designs today.

Retro wallpaper used in a contemporary space stands out and gives the room a unique and interesting ambience. Because the wallpaper takes up such a large surface area of the room, it instantly catches the eye. The clean lines and neutral colors of contemporary furnishings stand in contrast but also balance the space. Each style becomes more articulated, whether the retro-contemporary combination is used in the bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, dining, or living area.


Retro wallpaper can also change the mood of a contemporary space by making it more fun and homey. Used in a children’s room, it brightens up the dcor with color and pattern and can create a warm and friendly space for play and rest. Retro wallpaper works best in a contemporary space when the colors are unified in the space. For example, selecting a color from the wallpaper to use as an accent color in the room helps to tie the room together.

Tips for using retro wallpaper:

If you don’t want to turn your space retro… Furniture of the mid to late 20th century featured polished chrome, molded plastic, and laminate surfaces. Bright and colorful pieces were popular, as well as rounded or asterisk shapes. If you are able to get your hands on these pieces, having a retro themed space may very well work for you. But if you want to keep your space contemporary, retro wallpaper can still look great in a room without all the retro furnishings.

But you do want to include some accessories… A great way to put your room together is to add a few retro accessories that echo the style of your wallpaper. Try displaying some vintage posters on the wall or place retro light fixtures or retro clocks in the space. You can place a jukebox against a wall opposite to the wallpapered wall to balance the space. Create an interesting art piece by combining retro and contemporary items of a single theme, like a collection of fabric swatches or small mirrors.

Even a classic furniture piece or two… Retro furniture that has stood the test of time with its quality and comfort works well in any space. In your contemporary living room, consider placing a classic retro furniture piece, like a wood and glass kidney-shaped coffee table or a leather Eames lounge chair.

Keep it simple for greatest effect… Retro wallpaper can look great in a contemporary space all by itself. In fact, the key to successfully mixing decorating styles in a single space is to have one dominant style and to use the other style sparingly. Be careful when decorating your space that you do not have patterns that are competing or clashing with one another. Let the retro wallpaper design take center stage.

About the Author: With signature design style, Jessica Ackerman, an online writer with, describes bold approaches to

atomic outdoor wall clocks


iron wall cross



Permanent Link:

Back To Top