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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. Scott says:

    I suppose I should be a little bit frightened that I identify with bits of every retroscope, with perhaps slightly heavier leanings towards being a tasteful traditionalist who is not afraid of color. Lots of color. Red and turquoise are neutrals, right? 🙂

  2. 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”!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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. 🙂

  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. 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!

    Richard

  8. 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!

  9. 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.

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