It appears to be human nature, that when times get tough we have a tendency to reminisce about the good old days. Even if the happiness and security we remember have been made rosier by the passage of time, it is compelling to revisit decades of social prosperity. And what better place is there to create a feeling of nostalgia than in our homes, where style and imagination meet.
Some solutions to our wistful search for time gone by are found in the themes and patterns that appear in the latest round of wallpapers and fabrics. Top designers who set the bar for style-conscious consumers have given us a fabulous array of products and designs that vibrate with memories of yesterday.
How about cowboy wallpaper? Now that’s a blast from the past, and one of the popular items in British designer Cath Kidston’s leading edge arsenal of patterns. Kidston’s website, www.cathkidstonusa.com, provides plenty of inspiration for decorating in a fresh, modern style layered with overtones of familiar, comforting motifs.
Romantic florals are everywhere, featuring the rose in all its unabashed glory – the English rose, the Provence rose and faded antique blooms shown in tiny patterns reminiscent of Laura Ashley’s glorious fabrics of the ’70s. Sailboats, circus themes, old-fashioned planes and vintage cars that were most often seen in children’s bedrooms are appearing elsewhere in the home.
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The den or family room is a natural setting to decorate around a bygone theme. It can be as subtle as a pretty wallpaper border and a few throw cushions, or as enticing as a fleet of sail boats bobbing across the walls. Consider the versatility of breaking up wall space with paper and paint. Wallpaper can be expensive, so add a chair or plate rail to divide the wall. Use the same trick with fabric, combining the more costly patterned pieces with plain backs for cushions and draperies.
Look for the resurgence of old patterns decorating plates and coffee mugs, vases and pitchers. The favored mix of new and reused feeds the nostalgic style trend, and makes it easy to introduce a few chosen pieces into your current decor.
Along with these well-loved patterns comes a return of the handcrafted look in home textiles. Pillows that look like cable-knit sweaters came out last year and are still hot. Knitting and sewing are skills that we can all conquer to some degree. And it’s neither possible nor reasonable to measure the monetary value or time spent creating a unique set of needlepoint cushions or embroidered pillowcases. These and other handmade items were once part of every bride’s trousseau, and although the custom has long passed, the idea of filling a home with objects that have been planned and produced with love is a cherished notion that we can recapture.
If you are just starting out, here’s a helpful hint: The smallest details will add a handcrafted aura to soft furnishings. Add lace or eyelet trim to hand towels and bed linens. Nip in the center of a cushion with a few stitches and cover with a button. A knitted cushion cover is as comforting as a cup of hot chocolate, and a few mistakes are part of the allure.
Debbie Travis’ House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. You can follow Debbie on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Debbie_Travis. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.