Going Retro

Designer Amy Dantré Wikman shares these tips for creating fresh, fun interiors.

Sign of the Times

Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

Although Amy practices an "anything goes" approach to design, she offers these guidelines for infusing a home with personality.

Decide on a look. Start with photos of rooms or details you like. For the home of Amy's friend Glenn Murer, the two set out to create an environment reminiscent of the old beach houses they grew up with.

Start with good bones. Keeping the walls, ceilings, and floors simple and clean will allow you more freedom in choosing furniture and accessories. Amy selected wide moldings, high ceilings, and antique-pine floors as the backdrop for Glenn's retro look.

Find things you love. When shopping, think about what fits your style, as opposed to what fits in a certain space. Amy says she does this with art, accessories, and even furniture, and worries about putting the puzzle pieces together later.

Pick a color scheme. If you decorate with items from different eras, make sure their tones work together. The pea greens and mustard yellows of the '70s may not match the vibrant colors of the '50s.

Adopt modern comfort. Where luxury and convenience count, buy new. For Glenn's home, Amy bought up-to-date appliances and furniture that offered eclectic styling. She says, "While retro is great, modern-day comfort should come first."

Go for a few bold items. Put your money into some bright pieces. In Glenn's home, the neon lobster sign and the jukebox go a long way to define style.

Honor your past. For personal touches, incorporate memories from your childhood. Maybe you played the Happy Days game, or read all the Nancy Drew books. You can find the real things on eBay (where a search for "retro" brings up thousands of auctions), or seek out a modern re-creation.

Shop for authentic details. Flea markets, antiques shops, and junk shops offer inspiration and great finds from decades past. Amy incorporated old signs and accessories to put the final flourishes on the retro feel.

Interior and architectural design by Amy Dantré Wikman, Wikman Design Group, Suwanee, Georgia; 404/277-1551, www.wikmandesigngroup.com, or e-mail amywikman@mindspring.com.

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