Retro Redux

Solomon had it right: "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again." That's certainly true in the world of architecture and interior design, and it's a good bet that today's contemporary design will become tomorrow's retro look - and some later generation's concept of traditional.

You can see that principle at work in today's homes. Design elements and materials that were once the height of fashion fell out of favor, but have reappeared in new and innovative ways. Here's a scoop on a few significant ones:

Design trends that fall out of fashion reappear in innovative ways


Newport Beach, Calif.-based interior designer Barclay Butera says he's always thought of wallpaper as special and timeless. "I'm a fan of subtle surprises in a home, and wallpaper is one of them," he says. "It adds texture, depth and coziness to a room that can't be achieved with paint." Butera uses wallpaper in all rooms of the home; he's even put it on ceilings. "There are so many colors, patterns and textures now, as well as a lot of price ranges." Today's wallpapers are easier to remove, too, so when it's time for a new look, you won't destroy the underlying surface.
Wallpaper is special and timeless

Shag carpet

 New versions of this '70s throwback item include carpet fibers that range in thickness from that of angel hair pasta to magic markers. Some carpet companies even make flat, wide strands that are die cut into shapes like leaves, says Hilary Sopata, principal of Interior Visions Designs in Park Ridge, Ill.

carpet fibers that range in thickness from that of angel hair pasta to magic markers


A century ago, metal was used only for a home's hardware, Platt says. Now you see it everywhere, from kitchen countertops to wall panels. "The different finishes have done that," he says, referring to the wide selection that's available. "A lot of the mansions have metal tiles on the walls in the powder room."


Remember these from the '70s, with their obligatory potted plants? They're back, but now "it's more sophisticated with water features and skylights," says Brooke Ziccardi, principal of Ziccardi Designs in Costa Mesa, Calif. "Life is so busy and communication technology is all around us. To see living things and running water is restful for people."