Oct
23

Looking Back, And Ahead

Today was a school day for me – and despite the horrible weather, I arrived at New England School of Art & Interior Design earlier than usual.  At my table there were piles of magazines being used for a project our class is doing on color and composition.  Squarely in my space, as if it were meant for me, was a circa 1998 Architectural Digest.  If you know me, you know this is my favorite magazine – it’s like a gift in my mailbox each month.  Instead of getting my homework out, I spent my pre-class time flipping through the pages.  It was the annual edition where they showcase designer’s own homes, which was an interesting snapshot of the times.

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I was not a designer in 1998.  At least, I didn’t know it.  I was working at MacKenzie Childs in Aurora NY doing public relations for the high-end pottery and home line.  I did know I loved the creative energy there, and was energized by being around the home and furnishings industry.  I had my first REAL apartment (read: no rodents or drunken roommates or neighbors).  I of course reveled in decorating on the tiny budget I had.  My splurge was an oversized sofa and one of those “chair-and-a-halves” from Raymour & Flanigan (and a bunch of MacKenzie Childs trinkets from the Seconds Shoppe!).   My sofa fabric was a brassy-toned damask, with pillows with burgundy and olive fringe.  That color scheme was big, and I saw lots of it in the AD magazine from that era (PS I think the olive is on its way back, but I digress!).    When perusing the pages, it was easy to look back and criticize what was not as attractive to look at (tons of busy florals, fabric EVERYWHERE, and not a spec of undecorated space) but I was really interested to see what styles, designs and colors were present back then that are still holding strong today.   Here are a few of my observations of the things that have stood the test of time:

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ANIMAL PRINTS

Always adding a something unexpected, a little (key word little) animal print is always right and does not age!

PANEL DRAPES

Also above.  Panel drapes are timeless.  Period.

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NEUTRALS RULE

Call it “safe” or “boring”, but some of the only rooms that did not look “dated” were designs that used beiges, browns and whites – very clean, uncluttered and classic.  Maybe a bit on the not-so-interesting side, but none the less I’m confident the homeowner was happy in those spaces for many years, and that perhaps only small changes kept things fresh.

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SOLID RUGS

I actually saw a SISAL.  For real, it’s in this master bedroom.  Although not right for every space, sisal is a home-run piece for many reasons – affordability, flexibility, and style.

LESS IS MORE

The rooms that looked the best were the ones where you could actually see what was in the room.  By that I mean a good focal point – one, or maybe two – but not dozens.  Space to breathe.  The more contemporary spaces seemed to have a handle on this concept.  The traditional spaces – not so much.

WOOD IS GOOD

When it comes to flooring, the most dated rooms had some sort of tile in a pattern that was either loud or busy.  Same for rugs. Good ol’ plain hardwoods looked timeless.

I’m saving this year’s Designer edition of AD in a “time capsule” – it will be interesting to see what the next 16 years brings!

Images Courtesy Architectural Digest

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