10 Vintage Decorating Ideas We Were Wrong to Abandon

What's in vogue today is often gone tomorrow, but some elements of home decor have undeservedly gone the way of the dodo. Though seldom seen today, features such as vintage wallpaper and checkerboard floors are ripe for a warm welcome into modern homes.

  1. Stylish Stick-Up

    Bold wallpaper

    Zillow Digs home in Greenville, SC

    Striking wallpaper designs, from elegant fleur-de-lis to bold Bermuda prints, were a hallmark of American homes from the 1950s through the 1980s. Today's homeowners might want to consider hauling the retro-era wall covering out of history's closet as a way of adding inexpensive charm to the home—without a paintbrush.

    Related: 12 Photos That Prove Wallpaper Still Wows

  2. Demi Drapes

    Cafe curtains

    Zillow Digs home in Oakland, CA

    A relic of Americana, cafe curtains—window treatments that cover just the bottom half of a bank of windows—are perhaps best remembered as a staple of breakfast nooks and old roadside restaurants. These half-size drapes still deserve a place in kitchens as well as in any other room where privacy is important but light and a view of the outdoors are must-haves.

    Related: Lose the Drapes: 12 Better Ways to Dress a Window

  3. Appliance Noncompliance

    Colorful appliances


    While a pastel-hued refrigerator in the kitchen would be seen as revolutionary today, it would have been considered a statement-making piece in the 1950s, when colorful appliances were on trend. The next time one of your appliances goes kaput, consider straying from the traditional white, black, or stainless steel finish and opting instead for an unexpected color.

    Related: 9 Signs You Need to Replace Your Fridge

  4. Iron Idyll

    Wrought iron beds

    Zillow Digs home in Port Aransas, TX

    The wrought-iron bed frames that were a staple in the first half of the 20th century have largely been replaced by lightweight, streamlined alternatives made of wood or other materials. Nevertheless, wrought iron's appeal may grow as more homeowners outfit their homes with nostalgic decor and again favor long-lasting, durable furniture over the trend du jour. 

    Related: Sweet Dreams: 15 Inventive Beds You Can Make Yourself

  5. Staying Up at Night

    Murphy bed

    Zillow Digs home in Savannah, GA

    The Murphy bed, which folds into the wall for storage and drops down when it's time for bed, saw its heyday in the 1920s and 1930s but fell out of favor as returning World War II vets and their families moved in droves to single-family homes in the suburbs. Now that more home buyers are gravitating toward smaller spaces, the need for the mighty Murphy bed may be greater now than ever before.

    Related: 9 Inventive Ways to Build an Extra Bed

  6. Anything but Square

    Checkerboard floors

    Zillow Digs home in Scottsdale, AZ

    Patrons of diners and ice cream parlors of old were well acquainted with checkerboard floors, which were in keeping with the flair for the bold design that characterized the 1950s and 1960s. Today, advancements in flooring materials make ceramic or linoleum tiles—both checkerboard naturals—smart options for the home. And the pattern is also surprisingly versatile: Paired with on-trend white cabinets, checkerboard floors look much more subdued than they did in previous generations.

    Related: 9 Sneaky Ways to Get New Floors for Under $50

  7. Knock, Knock, Hoosier

    Hoosier cabinet

    flickr.com via homegrownandthebug

    Not your ordinary cupboard, wooden Hoosier cabinets, popular between 1890 and 1950, boasted an impressive array of storage solutions in one piece, from lazy Susans and bread drawers to pull-out work surfaces. Their myriad compartments and sturdy craftsmanship would make them a hit with anyone in search of style and extra storage for the kitchen or dining room.

    Related: 9 Ways to Make Your Kitchen Look and Feel Bigger

  8. Well-Coiffed Cushions

    Tufted sofa

    Zillow Digs home in Boca Raton, FL

    Tufted sofas once lent an element of luxury to retro-era living rooms and conversation pits. While they've been traded in for sleeker, more streamlined silhouettes, the renewed popularity of tufted headboards is a sign that these intricately tailored pieces are destined to return to living rooms and dens.

    Related: Editors' Picks: 10 Favorite Sofas Under $1,000

  9. Skirting the Trend

    Sink skirt


    A sink skirt used to be secured beneath the base of a pedestal sink to hide the plumbing, but with the proliferation of the vanity and new, streamlined pedestal options, skirts fell out of fashion. Still, modern homeowners looking to bring a cozy touch to the bathroom would do well to incorporate an eye-catching skirt in an appropriate fabric, color, or pattern.

    Related: The Best Way to Update a Bathroom for Under $20

  10. Made in the Burlap Shade

    Burlap shade


    Families gathered around the table for dinner during the 1970s often enjoyed homemade meals and lively conversation beneath pendant lights covered by burlap shades. Although this rustic lighting option has since been swapped out for industrial-style fixtures, burlap is making a comeback in farmhouse-style interiors as a shade for lamps, bullet lights, and sconces.

    Related: 8 Things You Never See on the Dining Table Anymore

  11. See the House of the Week


    Discover and admire beautiful and innovative home architecture, from grand Victorians to quaint cabins and all the styles in between. Take a look at the latest images and inspiration!