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Decorating with Lucite hits all the right notes: It's glossy, vintage -- and futuristic

Lucite doesn't get old. The clear acrylic material looks as modern today as it did when it debuted in the 1930s. Think "The Age of Adaline" meets home decor. We just keep falling in love.

"I can always find a room where I can mix it in," says Shelley Starr, a Los Angeles-based interior designer and owner of the Shelley Starr Home collection. "It works in kids' rooms, casual dining areas, extreme contemporary homes. But it always holds the thread of quiet, modern elegance."

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New York-based designer and retailer Jonathan Adler agrees. "Lucite is like jewelry for your home," he says. "I think it hits all the right notes. It's glossy, it's a little vintage, it's a little futuristic."

Pucci limited-edition silk prints upholster Philippe Starck's Madame chairs, from $1,000. Available at Kartell, Los Angeles.
Pucci limited-edition silk prints upholster Philippe Starck's Madame chairs, from $1,000. Available at Kartell, Los Angeles. (Kartell)

The material, referred to in its generic form as acrylic, also plays well across a range of interior design styles in spite of its outwardly modern appearance. "Acrylic accents are the new neutrals," says Gordon Andahl, public and influence relations manager at Gardena, Calif.-based Z Gallerie. "We love the way the clarity doesn't compete with other colors or textures."

Beyond its chameleon-like qualities, living with Lucite is a great way to clear visual clutter. Chairs and sofas anchored with Lucite legs appear to float; desk and table tops levitate above acrylic foundations; and transparent carts, trays and shelves vanish beneath their contents. Small home and office accessories rendered in crystal-clear acrylic make it possible to dabble in the look without making a major commitment.

Floating: The Eliot settee, $1,199 at Z Gallerie.
Floating: The Eliot settee, $1,199 at Z Gallerie. (TSK Photography / Z Gallerie)

According to Richard Van Daalen Wetters, chief engineer of HStudio in Sun Valley, Calif., caring for acrylic is mostly a matter of common sense. "Exposure to direct sunlight can eventually cause damage," he says, "as will anything you place in sunlight." He also warns that although acrylic is incredibly durable, harsh cleansers and abrasives can scratch the surface. The experts recommend products designed specifically for use on acrylics such as Spark or Flash, produced by HStudio, and Novus 1, Novus 2 or Novus 3 from Plexi-Craft. And don't forget to use felt or rubber on the bottom of items that may scratch the surface, and use coasters to prevent potential clouding from drinks.

"Lucite is like the secret sauce," says Adler. "It makes serious furniture fun, and it makes fun furniture serious." Bottom line? "It makes any room glamorous."

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