A Blast from The Past
Home design is a revolving door. Trends that made an exit decades or even centuries ago may return years later, often with a modern twist. That’s exactly the case with retro fixtures that were raved about, written off, and have now rebounded with a thoughtfully reimagined look. From floating furniture to mirrored backsplashes, here are the interior fads that are staging a comeback and are deserving of a place in your home.
Vintage Wall Vibes
Vintage-inspired wallpaper is making a huge comeback. The colorful and bold prints of the 1950s, '60s, '70s, and '80s are by definition retro, but they can make a modern style statement when used judiciously throughout the home. Use peel-and-stick wallpaper (like this scallop print available at the Home Depot) to incorporate these period patterns on an accent wall, in a bathroom, or in any area that needs a colorful boost.
Related: 15 Wallpaper Trends to Try
Better Bar Carts
The classic bar cart got its start in the 1950s and '60s, providing convenient housing for an assortment of beverages, glasses, and other cocktail-hour essentials. Over time, however, these portable staples became replaced by built-in bars. Now, the elegant carts are experiencing a comeback, retooled to tie the classic aura of the past with the features and accessories that today's home bartenders want. Not only are these rolling bars efficient and compact (like this three-tiered cart from Wayfair), but they offer endless options for personalization.
The clawfoot tub was a symbol of bathroom elegance back in the 1920s, and today is no different. While freestanding tubs receded into the background for many years, they have now regained the spotlight as a luxurious upgrade, complete with custom finishes and a range of styles. As a bonus, their raised feet help keep a bathroom feeling open and airy.
Back in Brass
The obsession with stainless steel finishes is quickly becoming old news. Instead of cool, silvery metal, try warming your spaces with brass and copper alternatives. Metallic knobs and fixtures, most notable in the 1970s, offer a comforting glow that complements many kitchen and bathroom elements.
Soft and Stylish
Sheepskin or faux-fur rugs never really went out of style after their rise in popularity during the 1970s, but lately they’ve become a must-have accessory. With amazing texture, natural style, and unparalleled softness, faux-fur rugs offer a warm and cozy contrast to rustic hardwood floors.
Related: 20 Area Rugs You Can Actually Afford
Barely-There Table Base
Invented in 1941 by Henry P. Glass, hairpin legs were designed to limit the amount of material needed to make sturdy supports. Today, these mid-century modern furniture legs can be found everywhere, in part because their minimalist profile focuses attention on the tabletop's material and design. They also offer a light and airy alternative to clunky, solid table legs, making them perfect for small spaces that need a little breathing room. Try the trend yourself by swapping out the legs on your current dining room table or desk with hairpin ones from Amazon.
Shaker- and Craftsman-style cabinetry has long been a presence in many American homes. These cabinets showcase a simple yet functional design that can make either a classic or current statement in the kitchen. By varying your choice of wood, color, stain, and hardware, there are plenty of ways to bring this style out of the past and into your modern home.
If you’re bored with stainless steel appliances, these vintage-style alternatives that feature up-to-date functionality may be exactly what you’re looking for. Available in a wide array of Eisenhower-era colors, including buttercup yellow, cherry red, pink lemonade, and beach blue, these retro appliances provide the perfect pop of warmth and personality for today's kitchens.
The simplicity and clean lines of mid-century furniture are making a major resurgence in modern interiors. Easily updated with contemporary colors and features, these vintage pieces are hot commodities at thrift stores and flea markets. These furnishings embody the theme of "less is more," which works just as well in today's homes as it did when the pieces were first produced.
The history of the sunburst motif goes back centuries, and there are numerous examples of sunburst mirrors dating back to the 1800s. Their popularity continues today—whether big or small, round or oval, metallic or colorful, bejeweled or wooden, sunburst mirrors still act as stunning focal points in bedrooms, living rooms, and other spaces throughout the home.
Wood paneling, that mainstay of the 1960s, has now become retro cool. While paneling has always injected texture and depth into a room, today's fresh spin on this traditional wall treatment adds an updated feel with slimmer slats, smoother surfaces, and a wealth of neutral colors to replace the harsh latex wood finishes of the past.
The days of restricting wicker furniture to the outdoors are long gone. In fact, outdoor furniture can make as strong a style statement as indoor pieces, and it offers the advantage of extreme durability. Wicker, rattan, and bamboo are all excellent materials that can lend an airy and natural element to a home's interior. Many of these pieces are also handmade, which gives any room a custom, homespun look. Make a statement in your living room with this fun rattan chair available at Target.
Extremely detailed and time-consuming to craft, macramé is a form of textile-making that relies on knots rather than knitting or weaving. Whether you incorporate macramé by means of a plant holder, wall hanging, or room divider, the intricate texture is what makes this retro look so distinctive. For a modern application, create a macramé item in bright colors, and display it in an area that needs a boost of style.
For green-thumbed individuals, houseplants have always been a home decor constant, but for others, potted plants in the home can seem more a bother than a must. While spider plants and ferns were popular accents in the 1970s, today’s leafy indoor plants are touted less as accessories than they are as healthy oxygenators and air purifiers. Consider erecting a living wall of plants to create a lush and tranquil space in your home.
In the colonial era, punched or pierced tin made an appearance on everything from pie safes to lanterns, permitting air to circulate around baked goods and fend off bugs as well as shield candles from the wind. Today, “poor man’s silver,” as the indented tin is known, lends a low-effort, handcrafted look to cabinets, backsplashes, and headboards alike—no tinsmithing required. With a hammer and either a nail or awl, drive holes through tin sheets and use them as panels in your favorite accent, or pierce tin cans and drop a candle inside to create handheld luminaries. Of course, you can also stop by the hardware store and pick up replica versions (like these from The Home Depot) for easy installation.
From entryway sideboards that hovered above the ground to bathroom vanities suspended mid-air, floating fixtures, particularly those made of wood, were a staple of mid-century-modern homes. But their futuristic flair appeals just as much to 21st-century sensibilities. So go ahead: Float a sideboard, a nightstand, or whatever furniture you please to clinch a clean, contemporary look and gain ample storage space below it.
Welcome to Memphis
Fusing the Art Deco era’s geometric shapes with bold Pop Art colors, Memphis design first took the ‘80s by storm at a furniture fair in Milan, Italy. While some at the time characterized it as impractical, even garish, today, designers are incorporating its colorful kitsch into cushions, rugs, and tables alike, and homeowners who prefer to buck convention (including David Bowie himself, who amassed over 400 Memphis-style accents in his life) can’t get enough of it.
Sink Into Style
While dyed-in-the-wool modernists might say that these sunken spaces in ‘70s living rooms were, well, the pits, conversation pits can still be a conversation starter in a contemporary home if you know how to downplay their dated qualities and accentuate their positives. Swap out gaudy orange, violet, or green built-in seating for neutral-colored couches with graphic cushions, and reimagine the carpeted floor of the depressed living area with sleeker flooring, such as hardwood or tiles.
Mirror, Mirror on the Kitchen Wall
Nothing screams the ’70s like the disco-chic look of a mirrored kitchen backsplash. But today’s urban dwellers in particular prize metal-coated glass on the wall for its ability to make a room look larger than its dimensions and clean up easily. Opt for a single mirror for a more conventional look or mirror tiles for abstract appeal; either way, it will bring a little bling to the space where you eat and entertain.
The ravages of World War II were quickly replaced by rugged constructions born of the post-war Brutalist school of architecture, which favored the practical, unadorned look of cast concrete, stone, and glass. Over the past five years, the stark style has made a resurgence in interiors because of its timeless appeal and indestructible materials. Incorporate it in your home through concrete outdoor kitchens and bars, rough-hewn stone countertops, and glass-topped coffee tables to nab its unfussed elegance.
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