I pulled this old book off the bookshelf and was thumbing through its text. Its title is Let’s Bring Back and it’s about all the delightful things from the past that we’ve forgotten in our push to become more modern. The book is an encyclopedia of memorabilia, things like grandfather clocks and fountain pens, model airplanes and music boxes, pocket watches and kitten heels. The book has been sitting on my bookshelf for a decade.
There’s a way to take back some of the charm of bygone eras and weave them into our modern interiors. I’m all for decorating with things that are nostalgic, have historical value, or include heirlooms from past generations.
When I travel I often visit places where you can see and feel the history. Palaces in Europe contain artifacts from hundreds of years ago, but even touring historic homes like Ernest Hemingway’s in Key West will fill one with a feeling of nostalgia as one can’t help but pause and take in the antique pieces and early 20th century objects.
Whenever I watch a film that takes place in a different century I notice the furniture, the paintings, the moldings and all the decorative elements that bring that past period to life. I don’t propose we bring back overly ornate embellishments or ceiling frescos or excessive gilding à la Versailles, but I believe having a few traditional elements in a room adds warmth and character and makes a space feel like it has a history.
Just because we live in 2022 doesn’t mean we can’t be inspired by centuries of the past with our decorative touches. We’ve seen a few historic elements becoming popular again like botanical wallpapers, vintage paintings, and gilded mirrors. What else should we bring back?
How about …
It’s a universal truth that anything behind glass becomes more interesting. I remember walking through a lobby on a road trip to Oregon and noticing the collection of seashells inside curio cabinets. They seemed more special displayed that way. Modern curio cabinets are growing in popularity, and recently several brands have made them a part of their furniture collections. They’re quite practical for keeping dust off your treasures.
cabinet: mcgee & co
Charcoal Sketches & Figure Drawings
If anything is proof of the timeless nature of things, it’s charcoal sketches of landscapes or nautical scenes or figure drawings that remind us of the beauty of the human form.
Whether in traditional pedestal form or as a modern planter, sculptural faces add personality to any space! I keep a pair of busts tucked away in a cabinet that remind me of my children when they were young, I’m reminded to bring them out again, especially since my oldest bird has flown the nest.
via country living
What’s better than a long soak after a hard day? Not much. A hot bath is part of my nightly routine so I’m a big fan of making a tub extra special. Vintage shapes check that box, no?
Before phones and tablets we had books to educate and entertain us. There’s something so wonderful about walking into a space filled with shelves of books, it feels more sophisticated, elevated, refined. Many modern bookcases are filled with decorative objects, so it’s refreshing to see shelves used to store and display just books.
Gilded Thick Art Frames
I’m not big on curlicue ornate versions, but the thicker gold frames with straight clean lines are lovely for showing off original art.
Cloches & Bell Jars
The cloche has an interesting history, it traces back to 19th century gardening in France where they were used to protect plants. Today we use them decoratively to create a focal point on collected objects placed under them to enhance their appeal.
Repurposed Vintage Furniture
This is a trend that’s been around for at least a decade and it’s a smart and stylish use of old furniture. Dressers and sideboards can be repurposed for a variety of storage or practical purposes like a bathroom vanity or placed in unexpected places like a kitchen, dining, or living room or in a boutique shop.
via inspired by this
Simple Lace Curtains
Nothing too frou frou or overdone! Just simple panels to add a touch of romance, ones that blow in the breeze when the windows are open on a warm day, the ones that make you think European cafes and New England inns.
Ostrich plumes always make me think of burlesque dancing, but they bring glamour and soft texture to interiors.
The Bedroom Vanity
In so many films from the 1940s and 1950s, women would prep in front of their bedroom vanity, brushing their hair or dabbing perfume. Modern bathrooms are larger and today we use more beauty products so it makes more sense to store them in bathrooms where we shower. But if you have the space, a vanity in a bedroom is an elegant addition and can still serve a useful purpose for layering jewelry and scents.
When I spy gas lanterns, I’m reminded of strolls through Charleston’s French quarter or the lampposts in various European cities. Some states are moving away from natural gas in new builds, but there’s something that will always be charming about flickering light of gas lanterns.
What objects or design elements from the past would you love to see make a comeback? What would you add to this list?