published Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

New nostalgia: home decor with a retro vibe

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    Hawaiian kitsch at its finest, this polyresin hula girl lamp strums just the right retro note.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

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    Southern California-based DCR Studio created this giclee print of an retro-style Guided Tours canoeing sign, mounted on wood veneer under Plexiglass.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

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    Brooklyn-based designer Aelfie Oudghiri, puts a contemporary spin on the iconic "butterfly" chair by covering it in a flatweave dhurrie in California-beachfront hues of aqua, white and sunny orange.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

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

And even if you didn’t, you may appreciate the look and feel — an easygoing, aspirational lifestyle 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 like 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.

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.

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

At Modcloth, find Karma Living’s collection of curtains and pillows in cheerful, ’70s-style medallion and floral prints in colorful hues. A blue, purple and pink psychedelic-print tapestry looks hip and new, but boomers will remember similar icons from their college days. Also here, a little chrome table lamp styled like a vintage motorbike’s headlight.

Magical Thinking’s wooden letters are embellished with henna-inspired painting at Urban Outfitters, which also carries groovy cotton bedding in paisleys and other retro prints.

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.

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