Decorating Bedroom Walls in a Vintage Style

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A vintage bedroom with a skirted dressing table.
A vintage bedroom with a skirted dressing table. (Image: George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images)

Nothing tells the story of an era better than vintage bedroom wall decor, which encapsulates the dreams of past generations. To create a vintage ambiance, opt for vintage colors, wall decor and wall treatments that embody an era's defining imagery. From the 1930s to the mid-1960s, period styles often overlap, containing references to preceding eras but maintaining time-specific characteristics. Feel free to filter in some items from a previous decade to increase the authenticity of your vintage bedroom. For instance, though the Jazz Age was its heyday, Art Deco works in '30s and '40s bedrooms, especially less opulent Deco items.

1930s

Create a Depression era-farmhouse bedroom, while filtering in some Dime Store Deco accents. If WPA posters aren't your preference, hang an assortment of pink, Depression glass plates, which often feature Deco motifs. Painted, white decorative plates correspond with a white iron bed and a white, popcorn chenille bedspread. Choose simple floral wallpaper or paint your walls in the favored muted hues of the era: dove-gray or grayed lilac. A white, glass oil lamp on an embroidered, skirted table adds a vintage touch.

1940s

Bring post-war optimism to bedroom walls with the '40s jewel-tone palette. Deep reds, blues and greens enliven walls, or use floral wallpaper and floral prints in simple frames, which echo the era's emphasis on home and hearth. Your Colonial-style poster bed with a ruffled canopy top pairs with a skirted dressing table stool and a glass lamp with a scalloped-topped, melon shade. Use carpet, the increasingly popular 1940s alternative to wood flooring. For plainer bedrooms, opt for '40s Deco furniture, a gymnasium clock and '40s travel posters.

1950s

Some '50s bedrooms displayed nascent Mid-Century Modern trends, including bold colors, abstract artwork and simple Danish Modern furniture, but the majority were traditional enclaves in styles like French Provincial. Bedroom walls in '50s aqua provide a vintage look, especially with matching carpet and a button-tufted, curving headboard. Pale pink is another vintage '50s color, and black accents, such as thin black frames, ground the era's ice-cream pastel palette. Simple, silver frames also work, coordinating well with light, French-finish furniture and traditionally framed street scenes or landscapes.

1960s

Modern styles came to fruition in the '60s with a bedroom palette that included warm neutrals and an array of bright-colored solids and bold, geometric patterns. Consider yellow-green bedroom walls, paired with a Danish Modern bed and a patterned bedspread in yellow, orange and '60s hot pink. A long, horizontal oil painting in a narrow, modern frame is true 1960s style along with the tall lamps with wide shades and stacked ball bases. An accent wall with geometric, patterned wallpaper in orange, hot pink and yellow provides vintage flair.

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