Retro fits this year's homes

By , Special To The Christian Science Monitor

The home of the future could look like a walk down memory lane.

Picture retro lamps in Easter-egg colors, bulbous toasters reminiscent of "Leave It to Beaver," dishes with a nostalgic Americana theme, immense Versailles-era mirrors.

What's old is new again, and it's coming soon to a home near you.

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"Everything retro is back," says Yvette McLaughlin of Alston Quality Industries in Linden, N.J. Her company makes $40 kitchen stools with bright blue, lemon, or orange seat covers that recall the 1960s and '70s.

Other manufacturers at this year's International Housewares Show displayed '60s-era beanbags and blow-up couches and chairs. The inflatable furniture is as firm as a futon and expands into love seats, single beds, recliners, or double beds (prices: $100 to $200).

But don't think 1999 will just reflect 1960s kitsch. Gilded Louis XIV-type mirrors, 3 feet long by 2 feet wide, were displayed in force.

At $600, they offer a relatively inexpensive way to make small hallways or petite dining rooms look large, says Juan Corona of Standard Frame Art and Décor in San Diego.

"People are smarter shoppers," he says. "They aren't buying that poster frame that will be out of style in year. They are thinking long-term. They say 'I might spend $300 on this, but I'm going to keep it forever.' "

While some of the hottest items are blasts from the past, the show also had miles of goods with a European tone. Sleek shapes and clean lines marked cutlery, stemware, vases, and other household products

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