CHICAGO — 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.
"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 D&eacute;cor 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