New nostalgia: home decor with a retro vibe

06/06/2014 1:47 PM

06/06/2014 1:47 PM

If you spent childhood summers on a northern lake, grew up lunching at diners and shake shacks, or took a college road trip, you’ll be all over the next big home decor trend: American retro.

And even if you didn’t, you may appreciate the look and feel – an easygoing, aspirational feel centered more on the meandering road than the techno highway.

Lifetime Brands trend expert Tom Mirabile calls the style “visual comfort food.”

The imagery and decor elements draw baby boomers back to what might feel like simpler, more innocent days. Think vintage-style advertising and artwork, lunch-counter dishware, camping motifs, midcentury surf culture. Old bakeries, drive-ins, roadhouses, garages, beach shacks.

Online retailer Fab has jumped on the trend, with offerings such as Roo Kee Roo’s retro-style prints of boating and cottage motifs, made by Forest and Michael Evashevski, who grew up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Beach towels printed with patterns from famed blanket-maker Pendleton have a vintage vibe and would work in a bathroom as well as at the shore. And a campfire-ready collection of enamelware from Falcon includes a red teapot and serveware (www.fab.com).

Retro-surfer decor is available at several retailers. CB2 has launched a collection that includes surfboards, canoe paddles, chairs and other accessories. The Hula lamp brings a bit of kitsch to the design forefront. Tiki motif glassware, surfboards and Bodhi vase planters kick up the midcentury Cali vibe (www.cb2.com).

Or find fun reproductions of surf shop and beach signs at Retroplanet (www.retroplanet.com).

Grace Feyock’s wall clock for Uttermost is made of vintage pictures of old license plates. A map made of license-plate images makes bold, graphic wall art, by David Bowman. A set of coasters printed with images of the famous Route 66 road sign make a nice addition to the cocktail cart (www.wayfair.com).

Martin Yeele’s photographs of vintage motel and diner signage add style to serving trays from Bob’s Your Uncle (www.bobsyouruncle.com).

The trick is to not let this look get too kitschy, unless you want to. A few elements in an otherwise contemporary space pack design punch. But if your style’s more boho than Bauhaus, then layering textiles, art and accent items creates a comfortable, lived-in look that captures the charm of retro style.

Entertainment Videos

Join the discussion

is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service