Old fashions return with new twists

Rita St. Clair

December 02, 1990|By Rita St. Clair

If you wait long enough, almost everything comes around again. After all, even a stopped clock is accurate twice a day.

But unlike a stopped clock, when a style or fashion comes around again, it's usually with a different twist. So even though Spanish and French furniture styles are back in vogue, I would recommend that you not rush up to the attic to haul out that 1960 High Point Spanish colonial chest or that 1930 Grand Rapids French walnut cabinet. The pieces popular today don't look anything like those editions.

Today's French furniture has little gilding. Its lines are more in keeping with the country look than with a Louis XVI antique. Similarly, the Spanish pieces that have recently become so fashionable are not nearly as heavy or as ornately carved as their predecessors. In fact, some of the best work now coming out of Spain is quite restrained -- almost minimalist -- in its lines and pro

portions. The contemporary Spanish furniture I admire most is done in a combination of wood and metals like iron.

Bedroom ensembles are also undergoing striking and interesting changes in design.

Remember, back in the 1950s, when beds were suddenly reduced to a basic formula consisting of mattress, box spring and simple headboard? Footboards and side rails had disappeared almost overnight.

I'm pleased to report that these embellishments are coming back in a big way, along with prominent headboards and even canopylike fabric dressing. But what's missing now, for some reason, is the bedspread.

Have you tried to buy a ready-made bedspread lately? It's easier to find a diamond tiara.

At the same time, there's no shortage of duvets or decorative comforters and all their mix-and-match trappings, such as dust ruffles, pillow shams and elbow and neck pillows.

The fabrics and wall coverings accompanying these fluffed-up bed compositions are becoming lighter in scale and more cheerful. Here's an example of this very popular look, featuring materials from Greeff Fabrics and wallpaper from Warner of London's "Kensington Square" collection.

The footboard and headboard shown here are in the English retro style. Whether in wood or in a painted finish, these pieces will remind many Americans of the pre-war English interiors regularly seen on TV's "Masterpiece Theater."

What's different from those original settings, however, is the room's surrounding. It's much airier and brighter than 50 years ago. Indeed, there's something distinctively contemporary about this bedroom.

Yes, interior designs do have a way of coming back into style many years after their initial appeal has faded. But when they return -- as can be seen from this example -- it's never in quite the same way as the first time around.

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