30 Vintage Color Palettes for Nostalgic Designs

Vintage color palettes illustration

The past has always had a certain allure, especially for designers. When you use the right color palettes, you can make even the most contemporary design look like it was printed decades before you were born.

But before we jump into some inspirational vintage palettes, let’s clear up a common point of confusion: “retro” and “vintage” colors are different. When it comes to products (like toys, clothing, etc.), a retro product is a new product made in the style of a previous decade. A vintage product was actually made decades ago.

In design, the definitions are similar. Retro color palettes are often bright, and they imitate the colors of a certain time period (like a pastel palette can be a throwback to the 50s). Vintage color palettes actually look old — they often have a sepia or grayish tinge. Sometimes, they even look yellowed, like colors in the pages of an old book.

The bottom line is that people — regardless of their design knowledge or lack thereof — know a vintage palette when they see one. These palettes can create a feeling of nostalgia and timelessness, and they’re a great way to add character to your designs.

Vintage Color Palettes

Prepare to be inspired by these beautiful vintage color palettes. Hex codes are included if you want to use the colors in your next design.

1. Field Guide

Field Guide color palette

Names: Moss green, Sage, Vanilla, Dun, Chamoisee
Hex Codes: #919C77, #BDC29A, #DDD9AC, #E0C9AA, #988357

This pleasing botanical palette works for digital design and interiors alike. After all, it includes the on-trend Sage, a green shade that often works a lot like a neutral. One of the best things about this palette is the gradient from Moss Green to Vanilla — much like a vintage illustration, the color itself seems to fade.

If you’re using this palette and find that you need an accent color, take some inspiration from the example image. The hints of blue on the butterfly’s wings pair beautifully with the various shades of green.

2. Deconstructed Bouquet

Deconstructed Bouquet color palette

Names: Sage, Pearl, Champagne, Thistle, Mountbatten pink
Hex Codes: #A9AE74, #D4D0B7, #F4E5CE, #DCC1C9, #9C7E88

Although the surreal effects on the example image give it a modern feel, its color palette is unmistakably vintage. Various shades of mauve and dusty purple are indispensable when it comes to creating vintage designs, especially those involving flowers. But this palette would be incomplete without Sage and Pearl, two muted greens that seem dusty in their own right.

Of course, in a vintage-style design, you can’t neglect the background color. Parchment-like warm whites like Champagne are great go-to options, as they have the appearance of yellowed paper. To really get the full effect, you might choose to darken the edges of the design a bit.

3. Atlas

Atlas color palette

Names: Moss green, Sage, Peach yellow, Lion, Raw umber
Hex Codes: #8E8B6B, #A6AA8A, #ECD495, #C19C81, #936B47

Even for non-cartography enthusiasts, vintage maps have an undeniable appeal. And when you select colors inspired by maps like these, you can channel some of that sense of wonder and adventure.

This palette primarily sticks to earthy hues, but there’s enough color variation to keep things interesting. If you decide that your palette needs a few other colors, you might take some inspiration from the bluish and orangish shades used for some countries on the map.

4. Butterfly Garden

Butterfly Garden color palette

Names: Reseda green, Jasmine, Timberwolf, Melon, Auburn
Hex Codes: #7D7F4F, #E7C675, #E5DDD3, #EBA398, #98292A

Plenty of vintage designs successfully use aged, parchment-like shades as background colors. But there’s a certain elegance to the ivory or bone-white backgrounds you see on designs like this one. Even without any simulated yellowing, this palette’s dusty pinks and muted greens make it unmistakably vintage.

However, this palette does stand out from most on the list in one interesting regard: the deep red of Auburn doesn’t often appear in vintage color schemes. The example design makes good use of it as an accent color. But if you overuse this shade in your own design, you may find it doesn’t have as much vintage character as you’d like.

5. Peonies in Spring

Peonies in Spring color palette

Names: Reseda green, Ecru, Dun, Linen, Pale dogwood
Hex Codes: #737958, #ACA37E, #DDC6B2, #EFE7DD, #E9CBCB

Few flowers exude the vintage charm of the light, feathery peony. And whether you’re creating a floral design or not, the pale pinks and rich greens of this pretty bloom just might make a great addition to your next project.

However, if you’ve ever seen a peony in real life, you probably noticed that it was a lighter, brighter pink than the Pale Dogwood in the palette. To make the petals and greens of peonies (or any other flower) have that distinctive, vintage appearance, you need to mix in small amounts of brown. That’s what creates the “dusty” look.

6. Wild Rust

Wild Rust color palette

Names: Kobicha, Beaver, Payne’s gray, Coral pink, Mountbatten pink
Hex Codes: #5C3A28, #AF9784, #527A84, #DC7F70, #A58199

If you want your vintage design to stand out from the rest, this is a great palette to choose. It’s somewhat unusual — you don’t see Coral Pink in every vintage palette you come across!

With a little ingenuity, you can bring these shades together to create a memorable design. Beaver makes a great background color, as it’s close to the sepia-streaked horizon in the example image. Between Kobicha, Beaver, and Coral Pink, this color grouping might seem to get a little warm. But with the calming, weighty blue of Payne’s Gray, you can bring everything back into balance.

7. Confectionery

Confectionery color palette

Names: Beaver, Jasmine, Platinum, Light blue, Rosy brown
Hex Codes: #8F7A68, #F5D080, #EAE3DD, #A5C4C6, #D69494

When you think of vintage color palettes, you probably imagine the colors of old-timey photos. But vintage illustrations have their own appeal. The dusty blues, muted pinks, and golden yellows of this palette will transport you (and your audience) back to a simpler time.

If you’re creating a color palette for an advertisement, that vintage association may work in your favor. Plenty of people believe that products were better made in the past. When you promote a product with vintage colors like these, your audience may subconsciously think your product outshines the competition. At the very least, they’ll appreciate your unique color scheme!

8. Beachside Bicycles

Beachside Bicycles color palette

Names: Old rose, Beaver, Eggshell, Ash gray, Buff
Hex Codes: #AD7670, #B49886, #F3ECDC, #BFD5BE, #DFA679

Some vintage-style color palettes can start to look dark or heavy. Not this one — its eclectic blend of colors gives it a breezy, coastal-inspired feel. Sandy Eggshell, watery Ash Gray, and earthy Beaver create a feeling of balance, even if your design isn’t at all related to the coast.

However, the example photo does offer some helpful guidance as far as how to best use these colors in your design. Eggshell is an outstanding background color, and prominently featuring Ash Gray is a sure way to get your audience’s attention. Beaver is dark enough to keep things grounded, and the more intense Old Rose and Buff make great accent colors.

9. Wallflowers

Wallflowers color palette

Names: Fern green, Ash gray, Platinum, Puce, Rose quartz
Hex Codes: #67783B, #B5C9B1, #DBDBDA, #CB8A9D, #AE9DBA

When you’re trying to dream up vintage-inspired color palettes, it helps to take a look at some of the fixtures of bygone eras. One of these is floral wallpaper, and the example image is a fairly close approximation of the type of pattern you’d find on many of these wallpapers.

This one is a good choice if you want something that’s a little deeper and brighter than some vintage palettes. If you like it but find you need more variety, you might consider including the rich blue-green used for some of the leaves.

10. Country Cottage

Country Cottage color palette

Names: Sage, Bone, Ecru, Butterscotch, Coyote
Hex Codes: #A4A57B, #D5D3C5, #DBC993, #C48F47, #7F6E50

As you can see in the example image, this palette is a great one for home decor. However, that isn’t all it’s good for! Because the colors are so closely related, they’re ideal for imparting a rich, layered look to any design.

This is also one of the earthiest palettes on the list, so it’s ideal for nature-connected brands and designs. If you’re creating a website for a campground or a farm-to-table restaurant, it’s certainly worth considering.

11. Marigold

Marigold color palette

Names: Cambridge blue, Ash gray, Peach yellow, Earth yellow, Sage
Hex Codes: #7CA2A1, #C1D5C9, #ECD2A1, #DFA75A, #B0B182

Vintage color palettes aren’t just shades of gray, brown, and warm white. As you can see in this example image, they’re sometimes collections of lively blues and yellows against a deep navy background.

At first glance, this collection of colors might look a little busier than some palettes on the list. But thanks to its gradient-like effects, it’s fairly unified: Ash Gray is effectively a paler version of Cambridge Blue, and Peach Yellow comes close to being a dilute version of Earth Yellow. If you use this palette, keep in mind that Ash Gray and Peach Yellow can look washed out against a light background — to get the full effect, you need a darker backdrop.

12. Coffeehouse

Coffeehouse color palette

Names: Artichoke, Cambridge blue, Apricot, Light coral, Slate gray
Hex Codes: #899E81, #9AB19E, #F7BDA5, #D98A86, #5E808C

Even if you aren’t designing vintage-style signs, you might be able to draw some inspiration from their unconventional color schemes. This palette borrows from several signs in the example image. And thanks to its emphasis on pink and green, it works nicely with spring-focused seasonal designs.

For some projects, Apricot may be light enough to work as a background color. But if you’re looking for a neutral (either as a backdrop or a text color), a creamy white like the one bordering each sign is a good choice.

13. Teatime

Teatime color palette

Names: Khaki, Rosy brown, Floral white, Vanilla, Sage
Hex Codes: #BDA795, #DA9592, #FFF7EC, #F1E4A3, #ACB58B

This is a palette that can work well in spring- or summer-focused designs. It’s a versatile option — although it’s one of the brighter vintage palettes on the list, it has a pleasantly subtle earthiness. Floral White makes an outstanding background shade, and its faint warmth works nicely alongside the faded glow of Rosy Brown and Vanilla.

As you likely gathered from the example image, this palette is ideal for floral designs. If you use Rosy Brown and Vanilla primarily as accents and let Floral White and Sage take center stage, you’ll be able to create a more authentic vintage character.

14. Postcard

Postcard color palette

Names: Cambridge blue, Ecru, Dun, Chamoisee, Rose taupe
Hex Codes: #8A9C8C, #A79D71, #D7C1A2, #A28667, #9C6F6A

This palette’s example image captures what most people think of when they imagine a “vintage” design — faded florals, a mottled and yellowed background, and an overall hazy look. It can be hard to distill an image like this one into a usable palette, but the five colors above capture its character well.

This palette is great for creating designs that look fairly unified. On one side, adding a little blue gives you Ecru and then Cambridge Blue. On the other side, adding a little red gives you Chamoisee and then Rose Taupe. Dun sits roughly in the middle.

15. Golden Compass

Golden Compass color palette

Names: Cinereous, Lion, Dutch white, Opal, Ash gray
Hex Codes: #967C78, #AA9378, #F3E1C0, #A9C5BD, #9BB3AC

The image above is a quintessential “vintage” picture. But even if your design doesn’t include old maps, compasses, and mysterious keys, you can still take some inspiration from this eclectic and versatile collection.

At first glance, Dutch White might seem like the obvious choice for a backdrop (or if you’re designing an interior, a wall). This is a perfectly fine choice, but if you want to do something a little different, try using Ash Gray, the color of the map in the photo. As you can see, this is a shade that goes wonderfully with warm neutrals like Dutch White, Lion, and Cinereous.

16. Parchment

Parchment color palette

Names: Buff, Sunset, Linen, Bone, Dun
Hex Codes: #E0A474, #E8C89D, #F3EADD, #E4D9C6, #D1BB9F

Thus far, most of our palettes have involved at least some degree of contrast  — often including warm and cool colors alongside a neutral or two. But if you want your design to exclusively or almost exclusively use neutrals, this cozy combination is worth a look.

In an interior design context, this group of colors would be ideal for a Scandinavian-style color scheme. This design style involves layering neutrals throughout a room. If you’re creating a digital design, you can work with this same concept. A design with a single neutral can start to look boring or staid. Add a few layers, and you have an eye-catching finished product.

17. Summers Past

Summers Past color palette

Names: Taupe gray, Rose quartz, Sunset, Sage, Puce
Hex Codes: #757383, #BF9FAA, #F0D4AF, #A7A281, #D38F99

The colors of summer blooms and berries are enough to captivate anyone. Transform them with a muted cast, and you have a pleasant, calming palette great for just about any project.

The example image offers an interesting way to combine these shades. Whether you’re creating a botanical design or not, layering deeper greens over diluted sage and then incorporating accents of brighter colors is a great way to create balance. If you’re creating a text-based design (like a wedding invitation, a poster, etc.), you might try including a Sunset-colored inset with a vintage-style font.

18. Saturday Evening Post

Saturday Evening Post color palette

Names: Olivine, Vanilla, Peach, Ecru, Buff
Hex Codes: #B7C888, #E5D598, #F8E6B6, #CBB385, #E8AF7C

Few things capture the vintage aesthetic like a Norman Rockwell-style painting. The yellow undertones of this palette will let your project look aged while still giving you the opportunity to use a range of colors. Even if it’s not conscious, your audience will likely associate this palette with the past. That’s something most people find pleasing, and you can use that fact to your advantage.

Let’s say you’re creating a banner ad. Most banner ads are bright and flashy, and sometimes obnoxiously so. But if you create a banner ad with softer, old-timey colors, your audience may be drawn to it simply because they’re intrigued.

19. Venetian Lagoon

Venetian Lagoon color palette

Names: Cambridge blue, Buff, Champagne, Chamoisee, Moss green
Hex Codes: #7C9F99, #DEA886, #EDDABF, #92795A, #9B9460

A lot of vintage-style color palettes are inspired by floral patterns, aging maps, and old photos. This one has an aquatic feel to it, and the pinkish Buff and Champagne might even make you think of the beach.

You could select two or three of the colors in this palette and use them to create a design, but to get the full effect, you really need to use the whole combination. That way, your audience will be reminded of surf, shells, sand, earth, and sea grasses.

If you’re creating an animated sales video, this palette is worth considering. Most of these videos use limited color palettes. Overly bright colors can seem too intense, but the dusty look of this palette makes it refreshingly easy on the eyes.

20. Garden Party

Garden Party color palette

Names: Desert sand, Dun, Dutch white, Ash gray, Cambridge blue
Hex Codes: #E9CAB2, #DEC6A6, #EBDEBC, #BBCBAE, #95B79E

Warm whites, dusty pinks, and faded teals are mainstays of vintage color palettes. This delicate, powdery collection of colors is ideal if you’re looking to create something with a softer look. It skews slightly warm, but the relative saturation of Cambridge Blue keeps it fairly balanced overall.

Like some other palettes on the list, this color palette does well with a darker background. Many vintage shades are desaturated and almost pastel-like. When you place them over a dark background, they really pop, catching your audience’s attention in the process.

21. Old West

Old West color palette

Names: Bone, Antique white, Dun, Tan, Beaver
Hex Codes: #E4DDD0, #EFE5D7, #EED6B9, #D1AF89, #9D896E

This palette draws some inspiration from the sepia-toned photographs of the late 1800s. Its colors might make you think of worn wood, tarnished brass, and yellowed paper. Despite the name, this palette isn’t limited to Old West-style designs — it just has generally strong old-school appeal.

If you want to round out this neutral palette, try taking a look at the example image. Warm metallics are a safe bet, as are most wood tones. If you need to include text or a border, a very dark sepia (like the lines on the map) should work well — black can be overly harsh, and it might disturb this palette’s monochromatic appeal.

22. Flamingo Spring

Flamingo Spring color palette

Names: Beaver, Khaki, Pale dogwood, Misty rose, Tea rose (red)
Hex Codes: #A99287, #B6A59A, #DCCCCB, #E4D1D4, #D0AAA5

When you imagine an image of flamingos, you might assume that it includes bright blue water and vivid foliage. But this example image integrates these typically-bright birds into a soft palette of swirling mauves and rosy browns.

Although the mixture of pinks and browns gives it some variety, this palette may sometimes need a cooler shade to keep it balanced. The example image uses hints of blue-green. If you want your design to be especially striking, consider deep forest green. Its blue undertones help it counterbalance warm pinks and browns, and it’s also dark enough to be a successful grounding influence.

23. Brick & Leather

Brick & Leather color palette

Names: Cadet gray, Ash gray, Rosy brown, Beaver, Shadow
Hex Codes: #92A6B1, #ABB6B2, #BEA398, #A78471, #8A7265

Every designer is familiar with this palette’s strategy: layer a few similar neutrals and add a couple of non-neutrals as accents. This method creates a balance of different colors. But if you create a design and find that it’s missing something, you might want to think about another element: texture.

The example image is a fascinating study in texture and how it can really shape a palette. Rough brick, wrinkled leather, a plush rug, and smooth metal come together to make the texture almost as memorable as the color.

24. Sun and Shadow

Sun and Shadow color palette

Names: Moss green, Sage, Alabaster, Timberwolf, Moonstone
Hex Codes: #969C72, #B7B691, #ECEADF, #D6D8CC, #71A3B1

There’s something distinctly calming about the example image above. The flowers and birds are bright without being overbearing, the grass is a quiet shade of green, and the sky is a gentle gray. You can capture that same peaceful energy when you use this palette in a design.

With the exception of Moonstone, the colors of this palette are fairly unified. Each one is either a shade of green-tinged gray or gray-tinged green. You can use Moonstone as a cool accent in this almost-monochromatic palette, or you can keep the general gray-green look and leave it out altogether.

25. Lepidoptera

Lepidoptera color palette

Names: Fawn, Ecru, Dutch white, Lion, Beaver
Hex Codes: #DCA466, #CCBD89, #E9DABD, #C0976A, #9D8769

Most collections of butterflies and moths start to get a little yellowed over time. The example image captures that gradual change along with the yellowing of the paper, so it’s fitting that each color in this palette has a faint yellow tinge.

When you take a look at this palette outside of the context of the example image, it becomes clear that it’s an excellent choice for autumn-focused designs. It’s a bit more subtle than the often-seen autumn palettes that include bright red, fiery orange, and sunny yellow. If you want to capture the energy of autumn while still creating a design that is calm overall, it’s a great option.

26. The Adventurer

The Adventurer color palette

Names: Khaki, Dun, Timberwolf, Desert sand, Sage
Hex Codes: #AA9E8B, #D8C5A7, #C9C3B7, #DFC1A9, #B9B7A0

Here’s another map-inspired palette perfect for anyone who appreciates subtle color. No matter what kind of design you’re making, the soft neutrals of Khaki, Dun, and Timberwolf will blend beautifully with the almost-pink of Desert Sand and the tranquil gray-green of sage.

You might also take a hint from one of the design features on the map in the example image. The shading off the coast of each country gives it a subtle 3D effect. Whether you’re shading around text, a border, or something else, this might be something to try.

27. Turn the Page

Turn the Page color palette

Names: Ash gray, Olivine, Wheat, Sunset, Khaki
Hex Codes: #AFC9BE, #B9CA8B, #F6E2B6, #F5D2A2, #ACA38C

If you love plants, old books, or just vintage-style art, you might appreciate this botanical illustration. Even if you don’t, you might find that its wide-ranging color palette is ideal for your next design.

Ash Gray, Olivine, Wheat, and Sunset are all fairly light colors. That can be great for some designs, but for others, you might need a shade that’s a little more grounding. Khaki works well here — it’s dark without looking too stark. For example, if you’re creating a design with stylized flowers, you might try outlining each one in khaki.

28. Window Shopping

Window Shopping color palette

Names: Moonstone, Sage, Dun, Pale dogwood, Cinereous
Hex Codes: #7CACB0, #C6D09E, #E0C79E, #D8B8A9, #867673

Everyone loves the sweet smells and inviting warmth of a bakery. This color palette strikes an impressive balance: it captures the bright colors of frosting, candy, and cherries while remaining muted enough to stay true to its vintage character.

If you’re the kind of person who likes working with both rainbow and vintage color palettes, this is a great choice for you. Of all the color groupings on the list, this one comes closest to a rainbow: Pale Dogwood is reddish, Dun is orangish, Sage is green, Moonstone is blue, and Cinereous comes close to being purple.

29. Dusty Bloom

Dusty Bloom color palette

Names: Khaki, Champagne pink, Pale dogwood, Pale chestnut, Rosy brown
Hex Codes: #BEA89A, #E4CCBD, #EECCC2, #DAB3A7, #D3A29F

Old-school floral patterns have a classic appeal that’s hard to outdo. And if you’re looking to create upscale, vintage-style aesthetics, borrowing from these patterns’ color palettes is a great place to start.

This particular palette has a gradient-like effect that makes it perfect for creating ombre backdrops. It’s also a prime candidate for use with metallics. Rose gold is the perfect choice, as it won’t upset the almost-monochromatic vibe.

30. Planetarium

Planetarium color palette

Names: Spanish gray, Ash gray, Papaya whip, Ecru, Lion
Hex Codes: #A1A594, #BAC0AA, #FBF0D9, #E3C274, #C09978

This nostalgia-inducing palette (or at least others like it) pops up in old illustrations and maps with some regularity. It’s a great way to create a sophisticated design without going the monochromatic route.

As you can likely tell, Papaya Whip makes a great background color. If you’re designing something like stationery (or really anything with a text box), you might consider arranging the rest of the colors into a border. The border around the circle in the example image is a great illustration. If you’d like the palette to be a little more vibrant, you can even include the pinkish shade found in the example.

Using Vintage Colors in Your Design

Vintage-inspired colors and designs have been making a comeback. They have Instagram and similar apps to thank for that (at least in part). Instagram’s vintage-style photo filters became incredibly popular, so naturally, many designers and digital artists wanted to get in on the trend.

Vintage colors are typically less saturated than other colors, so they will often have a calming effect on an audience. They also tend to evoke a sense of nostalgia. There’s the novelty aspect as well — lots of digital designs go for a more modern look. If you see a contemporary website, book cover, or advertisement done in a vintage style, it stands out!

Of course, to create a successful vintage design, you need to do more than just throw together a handful of vintage colors and call it a day. But with careful planning and attention to detail, you can put together a quality vintage design. Here are some tips to help you do it.

Keep Your Colors Limited

Many (though not all) vintage palettes center around just a handful of colors. Including a whole bouquet of different shades can distract your audience and take away from the design’s overall impact. That’s why it can be helpful to start with a palette like the ones above — you’ll know that the colors in each small group work well together even before you start.

Turn Down the Saturation

By and large, vintage-style designs involve colors that aren’t very saturated. That being said, they aren’t as dilute as pastels, either. They tend to have a worn, faded look — reds lean more toward orange, and blues lean more toward teal.

Many of the colors in the palettes above are already fairly desaturated. But if you want your design to have a little more vintage charm, you can easily turn down the saturation on just about any type of design software.

Don’t Forget About Texture

If you want to really make your vintage designs immersive, go beyond color and include vintage texture, too. One of the best ways to do this is to add “noise” to your image. Noise refers to small, random variations in brightness or color. When you add noise to an image, you imitate the appearance of paper or old film. Most types of image editing software let you apply noise — you can make it cover the whole design or just a selected area.

Grain is another texture option. In film photography, it’s caused by variations in how the crystals in the film are arranged. When the photo is developed, it looks like a collection of speckles over the surface.

Of course, grain doesn’t appear naturally in digital photography or design. But if you want to add some character and make your image look like a vintage photo, it’s a texture worth adding.

Bring Vintage Back With a New Palette

There’s nothing wrong with creating modern, cutting-edge designs. But adapting vintage colors and old-fashioned designs for the modern world is an art form in itself.

When you work with vintage-inspired designs, one of the best parts is reshaping the past to make it your own. Don’t just try to replicate designs of the past — use vintage shades to create something entirely new!