The bedroom is probably the easiest room to create a vintage look in, as it tends to be the space where it is accepted to be more feminine with floral linens and pretty wallpapers. There are two ways to get a vintage or mid century bedroom which I will share today – a mid-century modern space with clean Scandinavian influences from the 1950s-1970s and a more traditional vintage room reminding us of the 1920s-1940s.
The Mid Century Bedroom
Furniture companies such as G Plan made great mid century bedroom suites from the 1950s-1970s which are easily found today. In the 1950s, they designed the Brandon range with dressing tables and chest of drawers in light and medium oak with simple styling and details such as splayed legs and matching wooden handles. Their later Fresco range, in a medium teak wood, introduced beds with integrated floating bedside tables and vinyl headboards. These can be used today, pushed up against a standard bed to get that mid-century modern look. For advice on where to find these key pieces, read my blog also for Real Homes How To Source Mid Century Furniture.
Create a feature wall using original wallpaper in bright retro colours or choose modern wallpaper and hang it across all four walls for a more impactful effect. Key colours from this period that still work well today are burnt orange, teal and mustard yellow, which all look great with a basic grey or cream paint. I love Starflower by Little Greene, Wayne Hemingway’s Carnival Zest and the more affordable Trippy both from Graham and Brown.
In any room, storage is essential especially in a mid-century bedroom where you want to achieve clean lines with not too much clutter. Choose fitted wardrobes (as original ones are never large enough) with doors that have little fuss such as a cream gloss without handles. Look out for teak sewing boxes on splayed legs to store jewellery and accessories in as well as metal trunks for linen.
There are so many lovely pieces of mid-century lighting out there that the hardest part will be choosing which to buy. Choose vintage ceramic lamp bases and team up with a plain modern shade to draw your attention to the textures and tones within the pottery. Alternatively, go for a simple teak base with an upcycled shade which has been covered with original retro fabric.
The Finishing Touches
Remember, within this space you should be aiming for a clean look so be careful not to fill the room with too much stuff! Key pieces for the mid century bedroom are:
- A circular plastic dressing table mirror to sit on top of your chest of drawers, often in cream
- A funky alarm clock with a space age feel such as the Westclox Big Ben
- Cushions and a throw made from original patterned fabric contrasting against simple white bedding
- Great collections of glassware and pottery in the key colours used on the walls
- A Scandinavian Rya shaggy rug to keep your toes warm in the morning
- Wall art grouped together above the bed with interesting pieces mixed in such as ceramics
The Vintage Bedroom
The key to creating a vintage bedroom is to choose mis-matching furniture so it looks like you have collected them over the years (as you may well have done!) For the bed I would choose a cast iron frame which you can buy new from Laura Ashley, Marks and Spencer or Ikea. Choose 1940s utility furniture or older pieces which you can always paint in cream or a brighter colour, although please only do this on pieces that need it and cannot be restored. 1920s rattan furniture such as Lloyd Loom bedroom chairs and linen baskets also work really well here – look out for bedside tables in this material too.
I would hang wallpaper on every wall in a vintage bedroom, sometimes choosing two patterns that tie together by a key colour. Paint the woodwork in a hue that you pick out from the wallpaper such as pinks and greens – green was very popular in the 1930s and 1940s and will give you an authentic look. I love William Morris designs especially in green tones as well as K2’s Lucy in yellow and Graham and Brown’s Foxglove in lilacs which remind me of old nature drawings.
As this style allows for more clutter, don’t store everything away! However vintage cases, trunks and hat boxes make great storage and sit well in a large pile in the corner or at the end of your bed. Store jewellery in glass bowls on your dressing table, hang handbags from the end of the bed, in a glass fronted cocktail cabinet or even on the wall!
Creating mood lighting adds to the vintage feel so choose standard lamps with fringed shades from the 1920s in muted tones to tie in to your colour scheme. Hang a chandelier from the ceiling which can either be modern from shops such as John Lewis or Laura Ashley or vintage such as an original French piece with metal flowers as well as peeling paint!
Buying Tip: As with any vintage lighting, make sure that it has been rewired to modern standards. If you are unsure, factor this cost into the purchase price
The Finishing Touches
There are so many accessories and soft furnishings that can be added to your vintage bedroom but here are just some:
- Floral bedding with a vintage eiderdown layered on top. Folding extra fabric quilts on the wardrobe will not only look good, but can be used on a chilly night
- Vintage perfume bottles out on display in cut glass from the 1920s and 1930s alongside Czech dressing table sets with bowls, candle holders all sitting on a glass tray
- A velvet padded stool casually sitting in the corner
- Pretty vintage mirrors hanging on chains with patterns etched into the glass
This is my article for Real Homes magazine. All images by Simon Whitmore from my book Style Your Modern Vintage Home