houses, Uncategorized

How to go retro

Kirsty Machen is passionate about retro furniture and accessories and, after decorating her first home entirely from restored retro pieces, opened a store called ‘Mint’. ‘Visitors were excited by the way that I had furnished my home and wanted to know where they could find similar items, so to satisfy the demand I left my steady job, and entered the freefall world of retail,’ she explains. ‘Mint sold everything from retro ice-cream scoops to 50s light-fittings and Scandinavian dining room tables, with the idea that everything in our homes should be beautiful, functionality never being enough.’ After only eight months in business, Kirsty was lured back into the corporate world and had to shut up shop. 'Somehow though, I seemed to forget that I no longer had a shop to stock, and continued to trawl the carboot markets and church sales for treasure. After a year of hoarding I realised that I had to ultimately have a way of passing on some of my collection, and so I started the online version of Mint. We chatted to Kirsty about how to incorporate retro finds into your home. What appeals to you about retro style? It sounds a little harsh, but the answer probably lies in what I don’t like about contemporary design – and that’s the lack of thought in the design process. Furniture, appliances, everyday objects that we can buy today are either over-designed or manufactured with very little thought given to the durability, functionality and aesthetics of an object. You can of course purchase beautifully crafted goods today, but more often than not, these come with a very heavy price tag. Retro pieces are generally of a much higher quality in terms of materials used, and overall design. What are your tips for incorporating retro elements into a home? Keep it simple. I suppose that it’s a bit of a subjective point of view as a lot of people carry off ‘over the top’ very successfully, but for me older pieces need a clean canvas in order to work well. While I love pieces from the 1970s I wouldn’t want my entire house furnished in that style, but by taking feature pieces from that era (or any other period) and contrasting them with a clean, relatively uncluttered space you get the sense of a retro style without it being all encompassing. How do you mix eras without your space looking discordant? I think that if you buy things you love, and lay them out in a way that makes sense to you, it doesn’t really matter how many eras your decor spans. I don’t want my house to look like it’s been cut and pasted from the 1960s, I want it to look like each piece was chosen with thought for an overall aesthetic. At the end of the day, it’s not really about the items you buy, it’s about what you do with them – and I don’t know if that can really be taught, you just have to have a feel for how you want your home to look. What is your favourite retro piece in your home? It changes all the time, but at the moment I’m loving a plaster of Paris bust that my boyfriend bought me for Christmas (pictured above). She’s quite a serious looking lass, but I love the naivety of the work and that page boy haircut is just fantastic! What is your favourite era? It’s not so much an era as a style. I love what is termed Scandinavian style – a movement characterised by simple lines, minimalism and functionality that emerged in the 1950s in Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Ironically it’s a style that talks very well to good contemporary design, but that’s probably why I like it so much: despite being developed 60 years ago, these designs have stood the test of time, and look and function just as well today as when they were first produced. Mint, The Retired Goods Company is online at minttheshop.com Text: Candice Botha