Retro Design Inspiration: 1950ís

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Article Courtesy by Tiffany Roberts

In this new series I'll be taking a look at the themes, textures, and color combinations popular from the 1950's  to the 1980's and showing you fun ways to incorporate these schemes into your own projects.

This first article will focus on the 1950's, and what a fun place to start!  This post-World-War era brought with it more lighthearted color schemes than we had seen in the past.  The advent of the television had a huge impact on the merchandising and availability of household items, and greatly influenced the home décor and clothing items that became popular.

In the 1950's "atomic era" we see a lot of pastels, but not the soft baby-like colors we may think of.  Today they would more likely be described as cottage colors.  Cotton-candy pink, sunny yellow, and turquoise were the most popular colors of this era.  Reds leaned towards vibrant pinks, and bold greens had a yellow hue.  Both grey and black were popular neutrals and were frequently mixed with these pastel colors to create lots of contrast.

Metals were primarily copper and chrome, and shiny plastics such as Melmac and Formica were all the rage.  Space-age shapes such as boomerangs and abstract geometrics were most common, as was heavily textured cloth, called barkcloth.  This weighty cloth was typically found in Tropical, South West, and Mexicana patterns.  Other popular themes in home décor and clothing were poodles, roosters, tea pots and polka dots.

Keeping these themes and colors in mind I've created the following projects.  Each one is inspired by either a color scheme, popular theme, or texture found in the 1950's.

Happy Birthday


This birthday-themed layout features the colors pink and teal, with the addition of chrome letters, plastic elements, and polka dots.  It's a fun take on 1950's colors and patterns.


  • patterned paper - Polka dots, Colorbok; Happy birthday, Die Cuts With a View
  • metallic chipboard letters - unknown
  • cardstock - Paper Accents
  • rickrack - Offrey
  • buttons - unknown
  • adhesive - Xyron 150
  • alphabet stickers - Reminisce
  • acrylic flower - Heidi Swapp
  • hart banner - Target Dollar Spot.
  • letter rub-ons - Simply Stated, Making Memories
  • vellum tag - Colorbok
  • vintage lace - unknown

Cat's Meow


This fun layout features a photo of my daughter in a retro kitty sleep mask. It's perfect for the fun and funky colors that were popular in the 1950's. While orange isn't a color you typically see in 1950's designs, it does work well with the teal, black, and pink accent pieces.


  • cardstock - Bazzill
  • patterned paper - Bloom Sparklers, KI Memories and Provo Craft 
  • paper ribbon - Doodlebug Designs
  • retro kitty 3D sticker - Nicole Crafts
  • photo overlay - My Mind's Eye
  • journal card - My Mind's Eye
  • letter rub-ons - Simply Stated, Making Memories
  • velvet and glitter letter stickers - Making Memories
  • sequins - Darcy
  • border punch - Threading Water, Fiskars

Preschool Luau


My last layout is about my daughter's preschool graduation party. It was a luau, six-year-old style!  This amazing paper by Daisy D's looks just like vintage barkcloth fabric.  It's a great texture, and has such a pretty, vibrant pattern.


I hope you enjoyed this article and that you come back to be inspired by the colors and themes you'll find in our future Retro Designs articles about the 60's, 70's, and 80's. 


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