Retro Trends Interior Designers Want to Bring Back From the Dead

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It might sound cliche to say what goes around comes back around, but it’s especially true in interior design. Recent years have already shown a resurgence in wallpaper, shiplap and macrame, but there are other “old school” trends that deserve our love today.

We spoke to interior designers about their favorite retro trends—and why they should make a comeback. “You basically cannot go wrong with picking any retro details and bringing them into your modern home,” interior designer Natalie Papier says. “So have fun with it.”

1. Go Wild With Wood
If you stepped back in time to the average ’70s home, chances are you’d find a wall made from a dark, walnut-color wood paneling. Interior designer Michelle Zacks says to use that retro inspo and bring it back, but with a modern twist.
“Maybe a more modern view of that would be [a wood] that’s a little bit lighter or has a little bit more of the natural wood grain visible,” Zacks says. “Take that as a starting point and push the idea a little bit further … Because people are spending more time inside their homes, it’s a cozy vibe with a little bit of texture and some warmth, and a way to add interest to a space.”

Zacks also recommends using rich wood tones in other ways, like adding a mid-century-esque wooden armchair to your living room.

2. Embrace Kitsch
Though some might never want to see an over-the-top mid-century kitsch space ever again, Papier says bringing in a few kitschy elements is a fun way to give a room personality. She even has a cassette-shaped table in her own home and has incorporated kitsch-inspired vinyl records into her clients’ spaces. If you’re looking to bring some kitsch touches into, say, your kitchen, Smeg’s retro-style appliances are an easy way to do so.

3. Pretty in Pink
Many of us are spending more time in our kitchens and less time dining out. So there’s a newfound focus on making your cooking space more warm and inviting.
Interior designer Sarah Robertson says there are a few ways to do this: incorporating more curved edges into your space (such as in an island or table) and filling the room with soft, calming colors like a dusty pink or soft blue.

“Pastels were so popular in the late ’80s,” she says. “Everything at Kmart or Walmart was those colors, including your toothbrushes, your spoons, your forks. I think if it’s done carefully and it’s mixed with other styles, [pastels] can be really pretty and really livable and inviting. I think it has staying power.”

4. Space Out
The 1960s saw a rise in furniture with chrome detailing, unusual shapes and bright colors—think, the house in The Jetsons or Space Station V’s lounge in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Zacks recommends bringing one or two pieces of this space age movement into any modern room. This balance will add interest without making it look like you live on a planet from Star Trek.
“You can really dig into that past vibe, take certain elements of it and bring it into a space so that it feels kind of mixed and varied,” she says. “I think of tubular chrome dining chairs or arm chairs, of low-slung Italian sofas, travertine marble tables…”

5. Pick Design-Focused Furniture
Catherine Ferguson, founder and owner of & Daughters Interiors, says when it comes to retro furniture from the ’50s and ’60s, a tapered leg is timeless and still feels contemporary. Specifically, a sideboard with tapered legs is the perfect replacement for those ’90s TV stands everyone seems to have.
“A sideboard is a fabulous thing to put your TV on, or sort of be the centerpiece that draws your eye into the corner of the room,” she says. “Obviously it’s great for storage, but they’re always on a nice tapered leg, which makes a big, heavy piece of furniture feel elevated and light and airy.”