1960's Interior Paint

A 1960s interior design is notable for its strong colors, modernist shapes and styles and unusual palettes.

Color Schemes

A 1960s home decor often featured strong orange tones.A 1960s home decor often featured strong orange tones.
Homeowners in this decade added bright, undiluted color not just to furnishings and floors, but also to walls and ceilings. Advances in pigment and binder technology made new interior paint finishes and colors possible. Learning about the paint and color schemes common in the 1960s can help you recreate this look for your own home.

Homeowners in the 1960s preferred bright colors, often side by side. Interior paint schemes featured bold warm tones like red, orange, salmon and bright gold, often applied directly to the wall without dilution. Cool colors tended to be strong and slightly warm-toned, like aqua, sea green or olive. Walls could be painted to almost exactly match carpets and furniture or combined with a complementary color to provide strong contrast. A living room might feature gold walls and gold shag carpet while a bathroom might have yellow walls with a teal vanity. Retro Renovation notes that color schemes featuring many shades of the same color were also common.

Pigment

Scientists developed several new organic pigments in the 1960s. These include the pearlescent pigments made up of translucent flakes of mica coated with reflective material as well as several new synthetic organic pigments. Pearlescent pigments allowed a range of new decorative surface effects while the synthetic organics such as phthalocyanine blue and green, Hansa yellow and quinadacrone red were brighter and bolder than previous pigments. These developments encouraged the strong color schemes of the 1960s.

Binder

Latex paint was first developed in the late 1940s, after rubber supplies resumed post World War II. However, it took a little while for latex paints to become the standard interior option. By the 1960s, interior latex was readily available and in use all over the U.S. This type of paint is easier to use and clean up and has a much shorter drying time than oil paints. Most interior paint in homes from the 1960s is latex based.

Warning

Homes built and painted in the 1960s may contain lead-based paint. While some areas had banned lead paint by 1960, it remained legal in many others for years. If you're restoring a 1960s-era home, the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends having your paint tested for lead before you disturb it. Lead paint can be dangerous to babies, children and pregnant women, especially if the paint is peeling or flaking.

About the Author

G.D. Palmer is a freelance writer and illustrator living in Milwaukee, Wis. She has been producing print and Web content for various organizations since 1998 and has been freelancing full-time since 2007. Palmer holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in writing and studio art from Beloit College in Beloit, Wis.