11 retro design archetypes — which style are you?

retro design styleA while back, Pam and I created 11 retro decorating “archetypes” — and “retroscopes” to go with. We made these as a “freemium” for the signing up for our newsletter… and now, we decided to just put all this analysis out there. This archetyping was mostly in the spirit of fun, but reading through the retro vintage design styles we gave names to again, well, golly, we still kinda think they capture the different buckets pretty accurately. What do you think? Which archetype, or mix of archetypes are YOU? 

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Did we miss any???

No matter what your retro style – or mix – rest assured that here on Retro Renovation, you can feel at home. In fact, we are pretty insanely crazy about ALL the retro styles – so, we cover them all. To top it off, our community of readers really is like one big, retro-loving family – appreciative of everyone’s unique style – because, yup, we know: There’s more than one way to retro.

See the archetypes enlarged:

Tips to view slide show: Click on first image… it will enlarge and you can also read my captions… move forward or back via arrows below the photo… you can start or stop at any image:

  1. Joe Felice says:

    My style is definitely minimalist. I say “If I can’t do it like Cullen, I’m not even going to go there!” But I do collect cat statuary, and there was no shortage of that back in the day (along with poodles, which I never really cared for, except on skirts). And I tend to go with the bright colors that I recall from the ’50s & ’60s. My nod to the ’70s & ’80s is the worlds largest collection of disco songs. I did not really like the colors of the ’70s (although I did do a bathroom in red, white and blue foil wallpaper to celebrate the Bicentennial), but that was a disaster to accessorize without it’s looking like a museum at a military base! But the music of the ’70s was the best ever!

  2. Kathy says:

    I guess I fit in the tasteful traditionalist category with a big dash of trash to treasure. My tastes cover all just about all historical periods and I love color and pattern and texture. I wasn’t much of a fan of MCM until I found your blog five years ago, and it has helped me appreciate the circa 1962 touches in my remodeled bungalow. I think just about any style and time period can be beautiful if done right.

  3. Jackie says:

    Definately rocka a billy! I had a kitchen set that was pink, gray, and white boomerang with hair pin legs. Chairs were pink and white with hair pin legs. Unfortunately, we were living in Homestead Fl when hurricane Andrew came thru and it didn’t survive. Neither did the majority of my spaghetti poodles! I also have a weakness for danish modern furniture and have a stereo circa 1964 in the danish style that I STILL PLAY.

  4. Kelly Montano says:

    Our 1968 ranch is more mid century modest in style, but I decorated the bulk of the house Mid Mod Minimalist, which was a happy compromise I made for my fiance, who is all about ultra modern furnishings. I also had too much stuff and decided that I would only decorate with things I really, really loved as the collections were getting way out of hand! All the furniture I have collected over the past several years is mid mod sixties walnut, as well as a sleek vintage sixties sectional in brown. I had to brighten up all that brown, so the walls are aqua and I accessorized with peacock blue pinch pleated drapes, turquoise and peridot green throw pillows with a few orange accents here and there. I further accessorized a large sixties walnut wall unit (our favorite piece, which we picked up at a garage sale for $150) with glass decanters and vases in shades of teal, aqua, green and turquoise. I threw in a cool starburst clock and some neato gravel art lantern plaques over the sofa. The only new item is a modern rug in the same aqua, teal and green colors, which I begrudgingly bought when I could not find a vintage rug that was in good shape. However, that rug really pulled the decor together, so I have grown to love it too even though it is not vintage. The more girly spaces, including my Hollywood Regency bedroom done in silver and white, and my pink and black Chinoiserie office, are more Star of the Stage and Screen. So, I guess my styles are Mid Mod Minimalist and Star of the Stage and Screen put together with Trash to Treasure Talent.

      1. Kelly Montano says:

        Thanks Pam! I learned a long time ago that a happy home is not just a well decorated home, but one that your loved ones feel comfortable in. My fiance is coming around and has semi-embraced my mid century style obsession. He has the whole 40 foot basement to decorate all by himself and has already picked up a 1967 pool table off of Craigslist as the focus of his dream entertainment room. I also showed him the post about the 1966 Rat Pack Vegas time capsule home and now he wants to find a few of those awesome Moe pendant lights for above the pool table. Over time his vision has become a little more sixties swanky thanks to the posts I show him on Retro Renovation. It is such an awesome resource! Thanks for sharing it with us!

        1. pam kueber says:

          Very cool! Be sure to take lots of before, during and after photos and submit them to the blog when you’re ready for prime time!

  5. Richard Douglass says:

    Hi Pam,

    Wee there supposed to be links in the 11 styles to click in the examples mentioned?

    It was fun reading them and the comments. Proves that your followers are a mixed group of talented and independent thinkers who are willing to defy trends at any moment. Heck yea!


    1. pam kueber says:

      Originally there were, but no longer… Sorry ’bout that. You can use the Search box and the stories referenced will very likely come up!

  6. Caitlin says:

    Turns out I may be more streamline sophisticate, than mid mod mixer and had no idea. This was a bit like taking a personality test! Just finished my nod to mid mod kitchen remodel, which included open shelving for my Fiestaware, red counter tops, a mid century ball pendant light (restoration hardware replica) and plenty of room for my Heywake dining set. Still considering stainless edging. Am I that predictable?

  7. Antonia says:

    Grandma’s little darling / tasteful traditionalist here, by default: When I inherited a bunch of Stiffel lamps and 1960s traditional furniture (my parents were square Polyester People Eaters…no MCM or hippie stuff for them!), I decided to rock the look. I haven’t gone hardcore into it (no plastic covered couches for me) but it’s definitely distinct. Plus my bungalow is from 1926 so the style feels right.

    Also, I just wanted to say that I discovered Retro Renovation yesterday and I love your site! After looking at other shelter sites and not being able to relate to them it’s great to find this community. 🙂

  8. ineffablespace says:

    Where I live there was a lot of mix between Colonial and the contemporary of the period (now MCM). I heard someone call it “Contempolonial”.

    It is a mix of Colonial style brick, shutters, smaller 6/6 windows, fanlights, with large picture windows, sliders, corner windows, and corner fireplaces. The ones nearest me even have colonial box locks (those big brass rimlocks) on the front door, mixed with tulip/urn contemporary hardware in the rest of the house.

  9. Mary Elizabeth says:

    Thanks, Pam and Kate. I never got this post with my newsletter sign-up, so am enjoying it now. I am definitely Granny’s Little Darling/Tasteful Traditionalist. Remind me to take and send new photos of my knotty pine kitchen (granny ranch), which has a built-in display hutch containing my transferware collection (traditionalist).

    I think I’ve mentioned before on this blog that I found a near exact replica of my kitchen in a mid-century renovation book which was very disrespectful of the “vaguely colonial knotty pine.” I looked at their “before” photo, and it was the same as my “after,” including my new kitchen dinette, which I bought to go with the kitchen.

  10. Andi says:

    Well, after reading all the very cool descriptions I was beginning to feel pretty boring as a “Tasteful Traditionalist”—but it appears I am in a ton of good company! My 1952 Cape Cod is full of Colonial Revival style details like a traditional mantel, raised panel doors, etc.

    Most of my furniture came from our old Victorian house…antique accent tables, chairs, a tight-back roll arm sofa (how did you KNOW??), oriental carpets (which I love), Chinoiserie (furniture and art). We replaced our oversized Jacobean-style dining room suite with a traditional Chippendale-inspired breakfront, a classic sideboard, and a leather club chair (all selling and buying of these via Craigslist). I’ve converted that room into a library so the breakfront is full of books.

    My traditional furniture isn’t very exciting and doesn’t feel “mid-mod” anything, but it fits with the feel of the house.

    However, my inner Rockabilly Classic dances around in my kitchen and bathrooms. Original aquamarine Formica countertops, a 1951 gray “cracked ice” laminate-top table with turquoise & white vinyl chairs, a turquoise tile bathroom and a pink tile bathroom. Those three rooms are the top three reasons we bought this house!

    I have a bit of Granny lurking in upstairs guest rooms, and a sunporch with Tiki Wannabe tendencies…

    I am sure if I had a different house my furnishings would reflect it. There are a couple of true mid-mod ranch homes in my neighborhood that I covet—I must keep chanting the RR motto, “Love the house you’re in”!

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