The hit AMC television show “Mad Men” has women not only falling in love with sexy ad executive Don Draper, portrayed by the dashing Jon Hamm, but also the show’s hip 1960s décor. From the Draper home to the offices of Sterling Cooper, the program’s amazing visuals have reinvigorated the viewer’s love of the decade’s cool retro look. Turn your home into a 1960s-era bungalow with a little imagination, elbow grease and the right paint colors and accessories.
There’s no need to sell or toss out your existing furniture, instead incorporate “Mad Men” inspired pieces that blend with your current goods. The 1960s design aesthetic was all about clean lines and the fascination with modern industrial age materials, including metal. A great place to start is in the living room, where a statement piece of authentic or reproduced 60s era furniture will anchor the space. Blend a geometric patterned throw rug, caramel colored sectional or oversized round metal coffee table with your current pieces, or go all out and redesign the entire space.
To recreate the Draper’s bedroom, begin with the single piece of furniture that has everyone buzzing: the plush, teal velvet headboard. Pair this with gold accent bedding, his and her bedside lamps and a period-inspired upholstered stool to complete the look. Many 1960s kitchens, including the Draper’s, featured several wooden accents, brightly colored laminate countertops and the modern conveniences of a gigantic microwave or noisy dishwasher. Unless you’re willing to rip out your granite countertops and replace your energy efficient appliances with their not-so environmentally friendly 1960s counterparts, it’s best to create the “Mad Men” feel in the kitchen with thoughtful accessories and paint colors.
Incorporating popular colors from the “Mad Men” era is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to mimic the show’s feel. Shades of jade, turquoise, bright pink, sunshine yellow, mint green and cherry red were popular during the 1960s. If you’re skittish about painting your living room walls bright red, play it safe and choose a more modern interpretations of these colors. If you’re set on creating an authentic ‘60s feel, reserve these hues as accent colors throughout the home. Patterned wallpaper is another option, particularly large geometric prints and plaid. The Draper’s kitchen features chocolate brown plaid wallpaper, which works well with the muted wood tones and white appliances. Be wary of the furniture choices you pair with boldly patterned wallpaper to avoid overwhelming the space.
The right accessories will make or break your home’s “Mad Men” vibe. Throughout the home, choose authentic of 1960s-inspired draperies to subtly blend the show’s retro appeal in with the living room, kitchen, bedrooms and even the bathroom’s vintage or modern decor. Speaking of the bathroom, don’t forget to add that vintage touch around the vanity sink and tub.
A rotary phone is a fun accessory, as are metal table fans, glass liquor decanters and gold leaf glass tumblers and martini glasses for an after-work bourbon or Tom Collins. Use the accessories to add a pop of color, especially if you’re planning to incorporate furniture and paint colors in popular muted 1960s tones, including caramel, mauve and rust. Bulky metal floor lamps were popular during this time period, and are commonly featured in the program’s backdrops as a way to cast a subtle but sexy glow on the decadent characters. One last must-have for any modern 1960s family was the wood turntable console. Urban Outfitters even offers the “Draper Media Console” which features a 3-speed record player, AM/FM stereo, speakers and a headphone jack.
Finding Your “Mad Men” Pieces
You won’t have to look far to find several 1960s-inspired pieces for your home, just pull out your laptop and visit any of the multitude of online retailers offering the goods at a variety of price points. These modern interpretations of retro furniture and accessories allow you to create a “Mad Men” feel by incorporating pieces manufactured with contemporary technology. Otherwise, prepare to give up your weekends scouring local thrift stores, yard and estate sales to find the perfect tweed couch or vintage paisley throw pillows. Look beyond the furniture’s appearance, especially if it needs a little TLC, if it fits in with your design aspirations. You’d be amazed at what a little sanding, spray paint and sweat will create from a piece that was otherwise destined for the trash.
While enjoying your newly redesigned “Mad Men” abode, don’t forget the television show’s most popular accessory: a stiff drink or perfectly concocted cocktail. No house party thrown at the Draper house or during the 1960s for that matter, was complete without a bartender serving up a Whiskey Highball, Manhattan, Dry Martini or Gin and Tonic to the sublimely coiffed guests.
This article was written by Ryan Tupper, a DIY consultant for DecorPlanet.com. Ryan has over 10 years of experience working as a plumber and contractor.