By Tammy Adamson-McMullen
If you're getting ready to do your fall clean-up, sorting-through and toss-out, you might pause on that last task. "Old" is the new "new," according to design experts who say key words in home decorating trends are "weathered," "recycled," "refurbished" and "repurposed." It's "in" to keep those things that are well-loved and even a little worn, and "keeping up with the Joneses" is a thing of the far past.
There are several reasons for the rise of this trend, suggested Suzanne Ashley, Seabrook Wallcoverings' director of product development. "Interest in cable television shows such as 'Antique Road Show,' 'American Picker's and 'American Restoration,' are encouraging people to appreciate old items that are part of our country's history," Ashley says. "Also, the tight economy, stretching consumers' budgets to their limits, is forcing people to use what they have‒such as old family hand-me-downs‒and make them work. So we are now seeing a mentality of 'old is new and is good.' "
Home furnishings don't necessarily have to be old to be popular‒they just have to look old. As you shop this fall, you'll notice that many of the latest wallcoverings, fabrics and furnishings have a vintage or patina appearance. Design experts say that this is because "old" carries connotations that consumers crave.
"This reclaimed look gives us a feeling of comfort, nostalgia and stability because they have imperfections which add character and remind us of the quality of craftsmanship of bygone times," Ashley says. "Using 'old' items also evokes a sense of creativity because you are turning someone's discards into an item of value and beauty in your home."
According to Ashley, examples of these comfortable designs include finishes that are distressed, crackled or sanded so that different layers of paint are visible, as well as faded, fabric effects. Additionally, "Old lace designs seem to also be making a resurgence but styled in new ways," Ashley states.
All of these looks play into a trend that Ashley has identified as "Nostalgic Chic," which is grounded in inspirations from the past that are classic, romantic and subdued. Colors from this palette include shades of frosted almond, warm taupe, brown-cast rose tones, plums and purples pushed toward the mauve side.
While consumers increasingly are seeking comfort, they also are seeking ways to be more environmentally sound.
Regardless of what happens with the economy, we can expect recycled and refurbished looks to continue because of this ever-growing environmental consciousness. By repurposing old wood into a cocktail table, for example, or metal shelving into a new TV console, "Homeowners can feel like they are being 'green,' " says Jennifer McConnell, vice president at the Pearson Co., which produces premium upholstered furniture for customers nationwide.
McConnell notes that Pearson is seeing many aged, painted looks coming into the market. They include "our 916 Gustavian Grey finish, which is a soft worn gray with a raw umber wash, inspired by Swedish antiques," she reports, "and our 917 French Plaster finish, a scrubbed white paint over natural wood that looks as if the paint has been washed off."
Where occasional furniture is concerned, "We are also seeing more aged metals, like aged bronze and weathered travertine stones," McConnell says. "We have a new center table that feels modern in shape; however, it uses bronze and travertine to make it feel warm and approachable."
One of the places where "vintage" is making a huge splash is in wallpaper. In case you've missed it, wallpaper is back‒in a big way‒and especially wallpaper that recalls a bygone era.
"Many brand new wallpapers appear plucked from a home of the 1960s, '70s or '80s, yet they are very much of today," reports Gina Shaw, vice president of product development for York Wallcoverings. Some of the looks go back even further in time, although they are being produced with very modern techniques. "Some very special wallpapers are embellished with 100-percent recycled glass beads sourced from automobile windshields. This technique adds both shimmer and texture to the wallpaper," she says.
One look that consumers might be surprised to see this year is flocked wallpaper. "Velvet flocking is a 17th century invention," Shaw notes. "York has reinvented this technique with an innovative fade-resistant nylon flock with the same velvety sensuality."
Capturing a wide variety of nostalgic looks, wallpaper designer Ronald Redding has introduced a collection of papers, called "York Archives," that references books on history, art and interior design. Another book from York, called "The Bistro 750 Collection," offers whimsical designs and lots of retro flair. Patterns include ovals, birds, pears, kitchen utensils and sand dollars in fun repeats, many offered in retro colors of mod green, yellow, orange, turquoise and black-and-white.
While old themes aren't for everyone, designers say that many of us will choose to incorporate them‒to some degree‒into our homes. According to Shaw, consumers have grown more confident about design and are willing to experiment,"mixing styles and eras to create truly personalized interiors."