DESIGN & DECORATING

SUNKEN TREASURES

By Catherine Romano | Saturday/Sunday, May 4 - 5, 2019

We asked 200 interior designers which trends they’d like to resurrect from the depths of the past — and which are better left forgotten

 
 

When it came to past fads they’d like to see exhumed, many of the 200 design pros we polled decisively said Art Deco. Some singled out 1970s sunken living rooms, though others put such pits at the bottom of the list. And not one of our experts supported a wobbly return for waterbeds. Here, what’s due for a comeback and what’s considered done.

DUE “Most of us walk guests right into the kitchen,” said Chicago designer Frank Ponterio, who would like to see the forgotten concept of a salon revived in a lounge-like version. “It’s a space for guests to have a drink and smell that something fantastic is coming their way for dinner, to slow them down. And that way you don’t unveil the whole house in one swoop.”

DONE “Fuzzy, overly patterned wallpaper. The walls of the dining rooms in the ‘fancy’ restaurant in the town where I grew up were blue and red flocked paper, a haunting memory to this day.”

Designer Jay Jeffers misses all-over pattern, as seen in this room by Kit Kemp.

Designer Jay Jeffers misses all-over pattern, as seen in this room by Kit Kemp.

DUE “I’m obsessed with the rooms in which draperies, headboard, bedding, furniture and wallpaper—ceiling included—are all the same pattern,” said San Francisco designer Jay Jeffers. “I’d love to bring it back in a modern way.”

DONE “I hope overstuffed sofas with huge crowned cushions and giant pillows with a karate chop in the middle are gone forever,” said Mr. Jeffers. “Relaxed is fine, but keep it neat.”

DUE “We love the way the sunken living rooms of the ’60s and ’70s felt cozy and encouraged conversation,” said Alicia Cheung Lichtenstein, of San Francisco’s Studio Heimat.

DONE “Up until the ’90s, it was acceptable to create countertops out of square tiles, either ceramic or stone,” she said. “Now we can’t stand the grout lines and thoughts of the germs they can hold on to.”

DUE “I’d love to see carved plaster furniture and lighting return full force,” said Scott Sloat, partner at New York’s David Kleinberg Design Associates. ”In plaster, swirling scrolls and palm fronds take on new life, an interesting play of a humble, hard material and organic forms.“

DONE “Platform seating covered in gray industrial carpet never needs to be seen again,” said Mr. Sloat. “In fact, industrial chic is an oxymoron never to be repeated.”

DUE “The sleeping porch, typically a second-story screened room adjacent to the master bedroom, has always been one of my favorite spaces,” said New York architect Peter Pennoyer. “It connects us to nature and a time when summer life wasn’t hermetically sealed by air-conditioning.”

DONE “The conversation pit of the ’70s was meant to be forward thinking but wasn’t at all attuned to the way people live and move within a space, and it was nearly always an eyesore,” said Mr. Pennoyer. “It was the elephant-ear-lapelled, polyester leisure suit of interior design.”

DUE “Rugs have been around since the 5th century B.C. [but] it wasn’t until 500 years ago people started to use them as decorative elements for floors,” said Menlo Park, Calif., designer Isolina Mallon. “I love how it feels when a rug is showcased on a wall with good light—like a painting.”

DONE ”I hope to never see the return of Tuscan-style kitchens, which were everywhere in the 2000s. They’re distinguished by dark wood cabinets featuring complicated panels, moldings and flourishings that cover most of the walls. Kitchens should feel airy, luminous, durable and easy to clean.”

DUE “With many people challenged for storage, I’d like to see more attention paid to the cubic and linear square footage a wall can provide” said New York designer Keita Turner, who hankers for architectural built-ins and furniture wall systems.

DONE Ms. Turner begged millennials, whom she said love to borrow from the past, to forgo shag rug on stairs. “They were impossible to vacuum, and the long fibers got flattened down the center. The worst was shag that covered not only the treads, risers, cove and nose but also the molding and stringer. I mean, how was this cleaned?”