Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Reading, Writing and Retro

"I have often wondered what it is an old building can do to you when you happen to know a little about things that went on long ago in that building." -- Carl Sandburg

I recently visited the Carl Sandburg home as part of a trip to Asheville, NC, to see my son and daughter-in-law. One of the stipulations for making the house a historical site was that it stay exactly as it was the day Mrs. Sandburg walked out the door for the last time after the death of her husband. It is a wonderful time capsule of the year 1967. Everything is just as they left it, including unopened mail, copies of LIFE magazine, appointment books, even a trashcan that still has trash in it. Strangely enough, the lines of the furnishings look very modern and retro-chic, except they are not retro, they are the real McCoy...vintage '60s. Of course the room that interested me the most was the kitchen. With very little reworking, some smart appliances and a bit of cleaning, the "feel" of the room would rival the best IKEA kitchen out there -- only much, much cooler.

The kitchen cabinets were metal much like the cabinets I grew up with. I replaced those cabinets a few years ago while remodeling my mom's kitchen and looking back, I think I should have held on to them. Who knew they would come back? Trends always repeat themselves with slight alterations and deviations. I find it interesting that most of the furnishings in the Sandburg home could be lifted from his time and brought into our present design aesthetic and never miss a beat. And though I am not a fan of factory-made cabinets, the whole retro metal/clean line/'57 Chevy-inspired look is intriguing and fun. If I were going to use a factory cabinet in a design, it would definitely be metal.

What designs from a bygone era still inspire you?

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