Should I go retro or metro? It’s one of the questions we’re most often asked when we’re restoring midcentury furniture.
Do you keep it retro – true to the furniture’s age, look and feel at all costs? Or, do you go Metro? Bring it up to date, making it a bit funky and a bit more “today”. In other words, give it a make-over.
If you’re a midcentury purist, then retro’s probably the option for you – given that you’d want to take the piece back as close as possible to its original condition. Refurbishing and stripping back the wood, replacing arms, legs and frames with authentic components. Often easier said than done; but replacement parts can be sourced, original manufacturers found and repairs made with materials and components from furniture of the same period.
Fabrics too – authentic as possible. Maybe not exactly the orange and lime brush nylon, but for any purists, it has to be period fabric. Whether that comes from searching the web, vintages stores or using old curtains from the 60s, it’s vital to ensure its authenticity.
Authentic restorations are usually stunning and it’s hard not to admire the dedication and thought that goes into them. However, on the downside they can take a lot of time and money.
But if total authenticity isn’t your only criteria, then the world’s your oyster. Often, it’s more about the shape and the style of the chair or sofa: the real appeal is translating these into the contemporary – without losing the original style. This is the appeal of metro: taking a beautiful piece of furniture, keeping it true to its roots – but taking advantage of all that modern finished and fabrics offer. Blending the old with the new and eclectic is the essence of metro – and it can work perfectly with midcentury furniture.
Go metro and you’ll keep the style and shape of the piece, but you can have fun with it. Modern refinishing techniques will give the frames, legs and arms a superb, contemporary finish that’s perfect for today’s interiors. Fabrics too, have come a long way over the past 50 years. Technology, new materials and production techniques now mean that fabrics last longer, keep their colour better and can be protected against stains, in ways that simply weren’t possible back in the 1950s and 60s.
This durability and usability, combined with the astonishing variety of designs, colours and finishes means that the only real limiting factor is your imagination. The distinctive shapes and designs of midcentury chairs and sofas lend themselves perfectly to making a real statement: bold, bright, eclectic fabric and upholstery can work perfectly together to create an amazing modern piece.
But what if you love your midcentury piece, but want a bit of both – the “retro/metro” option. Making sure it keep its roots and authenticity, whilst being contemporary enough to fit with your existing living space. Is that possible?
Yes – that’s the beauty of midcentury: “mid” means half-way and that’s exactly how you can restore or refurbish your piece. Using the latest products and techniques, you can refurbish to a very high standard whilst keeping a thoroughly authentic appearance. With fabric too, there’s now so much choice: it’s quite possible to recover or reupholster with a retro inspired print or design that complements the piece exactly in terms of colour, design, style and texture. Whilst it may have a retro look, it has been manufactured for today’s interiors: it will be hard-wearing, comfortable, washable and colourfast: things that simply aren’t possible for original, authentic 60s fabric.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a purist and want to go totally retro, fancy making the definitive Metro statement or you’re up for a bit of retro/metro mixing.
What’s really important is that you love it – the colour, the shape, the feel and that it works for you, your lifestyle and your space. Look at all the options, look at some options, visit a few design shops or museums and see what you’d like in your space.
In the end – it doesn’t matter – whether it’s retro or metro, or something in between – as long as you love it, enjoy it and smile every time you look at it!