A Touch of Vintage

New York-based designer Raymond Waites, who began designing coordinated home collections 20 years ago, was a guest this week at the new Expo Design Centers in Monrovia and Huntington Beach. He discussed the current explosion in home design.

Question: You're considered a leader in "vintage decorating." What is vintage?

Answer: It has grown out of the American Country look, the pine furniture, wrought-iron chandeliers, chintz prints and American folk art which prevailed during the '80s. Vintage is more elegant--damasks, brocades and wonderful antiques. My new vintage drapery hardware, which we're introducing here, is architectural with antique gold and marble finishes.

Q: Is this the prevailing design trend today?

A: There are two extremes--the vintage look and, across the spectrum, modernism with minimalist furniture such as the molded plastic Eames chairs and glass coffee tables.

Q: Are these regional?

A: No, the trends seem to be driven by different consumer groups. To generalize, modernism appeals to young people starting their first household. The vintage look, which is more lush and luxurious, appeals to more mature people who are building their dream house.

Q: Why the tremendous interest in decorating today?

A: The culture is optimistic, the economy is good, and people all over the country are building immense, luxury houses with high ceilings, elegant entry halls and very opulent kitchens and bathrooms. This means that retailers can be more adventurous. These Expo Centers are an example--they're a division of Home Depot, but instead of glorified warehouses, each has eight showrooms with everything you need to decorate any room.

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