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What Is An ‘LA Retro Eclectic’ Interior, And How Do I Get It?

Interiors

When we published a story on The Sunseeker in Byron Bay earlier this year, it crystallised for us a new type of interior trend that’s been emerging over the last few years. The ‘LA Retro Eclectic’ look is, as the name suggests, an eclectic mish mash of styles, but a few key hallmarks tend to define it.

No longer does Los Angeles style mean laid-back, surfy or bohemian. Now, LA style errs more towards its show business roots, combining old Hollywood glamour with a touch of 70s glitz. A retro eclectic interior with an LA flavour is the best of the 60s, 70s, and 80s rolled into one; meaning maximalist rooms filled with cane furniture, squashy and full-bodied couches, a hint of tropicana, potted cacti and some graphic artwork.

If you’ve seen the fabulous Flamingo Estate (or Troye Sivan’s Flack Studio-designed Melbourne home), then you know exactly what we mean! Lauren Li breaks down this new look and how to achieve it yourself.

20th April, 2021

Raw timber and bold colours create a feast of textures, materials and surfaces that is key to achieving this bold look! Photo – Laure Joliet. Project – Altadena by Reath Design.

Softly clashing prints and warm materials (such as the ones in the Altadena project by Reath Design) are key to achieving a retro eclectic look. Photo – Laure Joliet. Project – Altadena by Reath Design.

Time and place doesn’t matter, the ‘eclectic’ comes from the hodge-podge cohesion of a collection! Photo – Laure Joliet. Project – Altadena by Reath Design.

Geometric fabric, warm timbers and solid colours…. this project is hitting all the right notes! Photo – Laure Joliet. Project – Altadena by Reath Design.

The Sunseeker motel in Byron Bay is a PERFECT example of this exact aesthetic. Photo – James Tolic. Project – The Sunseeker by

Round windows and vintage lampshades bring out the ‘retro’ side of things. As does the Sarah Ellison Halston console from her SOL collection! Photo – James Tolic. Project – The Sunseeker. Creative consultant – Tory Bauer. Interiors consultant – Julia Ashwood.

A graphic artwork painted right onto the wall in primary colours is a combo of so many key features! This one at The Sunseeker was completed by Lila Theodoros of Studio Muse Muse. Photo – James Tolic. Project – The Sunseeker. Creative consultant – Tory Bauer. Interiors consultant – Julia Ashwood.

The intense patterns and materiality of a crazy paved floor are offset by the slick and solid primary colours in the door and bench seat (the latter by the Fearon Brothers). Photo – James Tolic. Project – The Sunseeker. Creative consultant – Tory Bauer. Interiors consultant – Julia Ashwood.

The Polychrome House by YSG Studio. Photo – Prue Ruscoe. Stylist – Alicia Sciberras. Project – The Polychrome House by YSG Studio.

An artful combination of slate, brick and colourful painted surfaces at this revamped 60s house in Cronulla. Photo – Prue Ruscoe. Stylist – Alicia Sciberras. Project – The Polychrome House by YSG Studio.

Pairing two primary colours (red and yellow) with natural materials is a playful yet sophisticated way to incorporate a bold colour scheme into a kitchen design. Photo – Prue Ruscoe. Stylist – Alicia Sciberras. Project – The Polychrome House by YSG Studio.

The Santa Cruz House by Commune Design combines graphic elements with raw timber. Photo – Stephen Kent Johnson. Project – Santa Cruz Beach House by Commune Design.

A more subtle, clean take on the scheme by Commune Design. Photo – Stephen Kent Johnson. Project – Santa Cruz Beach House by Commune Design.

The astoundingly gorgeous (and eccentric!)Flamingo Estate is where the Los Angeles side of a ‘retro eclectic’ scheme comes in! Photo – Courtesy of Flamingo Estate.

The perfect statement, squashy couch or armchair is critical! The fabulous Flamingo Estate in LA encapsulates the retro eclectic look in a perfectly refined way. Photo – Adrian Gaut.

Lauren Li
Tuesday 20th April 2021

For so long, a classic Californian interior was defined by its earthy textures, beachy vibes or modernist lines. But in 2021, Los Angeles-cool is tapping into a whole different side of its history. Hollywood!

The renaissance of this glitz and glamour era manifests itself in low-slung slouchy sofas, raw-edge log coffee tables and vintage statement pieces. We can freely mix different periods: an 80s couch with a mid-century cabinet, or a Scandinavian armchair alongside a unique resin side table. The time or place of origin don’t matter, it’s the collection that counts!

This dynamic new interior personality combines earthy and bold colours with mid-century design ideas. Natural materials such timber, brass and stone are layered with a bold and unexpected element: a chunky armchair or hand-moulded ceramic lamp. Thoughtful lines and a playful dose of patterns and colour is what makes these spaces so memorable.

Can’t you just picture Eve Babitz swanning through, champagne in hand, en route to Chateau Marmont? Or Joan Didion reclining on a squishy sofa, her tiny frame swallowed up by its large silhouette? Here’s how to get the look!

Retro Surfaces

If anything sums up a retro eclectic vibe, it’s textural flooring. So if you’re thinking of taking up your slate floor – stop! We’re seeing designers use crazy paving, slate and flagstone again because of its natural texture and pattern, and it’s an unexpected complement to timber and brick.

Match it with tropicana prints, shearling furnishings, cane details, leather couches, and terracotta-toned bricks – and you’re well on the way!

Primary Colours

In the 80s, the primary colours (red, yellow and blue) were used all at the same time. Admittedly, this is a really tricky look to pull-off without some careful consideration. One tip is to only use primary colours in pairs – not all three – and use the same level of saturation for each colour.

Graphic Artwork

When in doubt, go graphic! Make a statement with artwork that features solid shapes of bold colour, in naive or geometric designs. Whether it’s an original work on canvas, a print, or a wall sculpture – go for something impactful.

Why hang an artwork on the wall when the wall itself can be the artwork? If opting for a mural, incorporate shapes that talk to other patterns or motifs in the space – such as triangles to match the patterns in a crazy-paved floor.

Chunky Furniture

Chubby seating with curved outlines and a textured fabric (stretched and bunchy vinyl are a classic!) are the soft centrepieces of the room, while hefty pieces hewn from a single piece of material – like a side table made from a boulder or a log coffee table featuring the cross section of enormous tree trunk – anchor the space, with bold and heavy attitude.

Cane or bamboo details add a tropical coastal touch, and are an easy way to bring a soft and desirable clash to the material palette. Sarah Ellison’s velvet Huggy chair or Paloma coffee table are excellent places to start!

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The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net