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A Trip Back in time.

Tired of contemporary styles? Too much of the minimalist 21st century? Then, it’s time look back to the 60’s and the 70’s for that retro appeal to make some inspiring changes to your interiors, not to mention your wardrobe! Remember the movie ‘Grease’? The drainpipe, trousers and fitted T’s, greased and slicked back hair, the girls in funky hair do’s, full-skirted dresses, high-waisted jeans, and funkier shades!?!? Make changes that will liven up your inner spaces, and there’s nothing like some retro chic to do the trick!


Already, I can hear ‘And be a juke box hero, got stars in his eyes. He’s a juke box hero.’, Foreigner crooning in my head…. Takes me back to my childhood, when my parents told me of this wind up machine that could plays songs off LP’s or vinyl discs or records – the gramophone or the record player! It was first called the phonograph, invented by Thomas Edison in 1877. The electric disc-playing machines started appearing on the market in the mid-1920‘s, in the form of a cabinet that housed a radio receiving device, with a hinged cover that opened upwards – the radiogram. After WW2, the hi-fi, which was monophonic gradually evolved into the stereo, which was stereophonic, and soon became a regular feature in American homes. By the 1980’s the turntable triumphed, and retained its position till the techno era gave rise to the compact disc. Today, the term ‘Grammy’ Awards, as we know it, was coined from the word ‘gramophone’.


To come back to the retro appeal, a friend of mine recently started a street side restaurant in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY. An old brick building overlooking the hip Berry Street, he decided that he wanted to retain the retro looks of the place. He retained the open-brickwork interiors, had five flat screen televisions mounted on the double storey walls that sported humungous double-storey windows. I asked him why he chose to leave the windows uncovered, and he said coz he wanted to see the Lower Manhattan Skyline. Okay, I’d get back to that later!


He had round wooden table tops mounted on wrought iron bases, the funny skinny legs sticking out in what looked like a 30-degree angle, imitating the ‘60s tables. Ditto the chairs! A fan of the Beatles’, Freddy Mercury, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones, he had huge posters of them dotting the walls, strategically positioned not to appear in competition with the windows or the flat screens. And he had this huge bar counter on the far wall, opposite the entrance, from where he served beer on the tap, the only alcoholic beverage he chose to serve. Don’t rightly know why he calls it a restaurant when the place resembles a British Pub; I hope he doesn’t read this blog! He had the work stations positioned under his flat screens, and served only pies, casseroles and steaks, and claimed to specialize in pie desserts – Key Lime Pie, Boston Cream Pie (that’s a cake, for crying out loud!), Apple Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Rum and Raisin Chocolate Pie, all served a la mode. I’m beginning to see the pattern he’s arrived at!


What caught my eye was the old Radiogram he’d managed to get hold of from somewhere – he’d refurbished it and actually had it up and running, playing his ancient but sizable collection of vinyl LP’s. I was thoroughly impressed! If the tables and chairs didn’t do the retro trick, this certainly did, especially as he’d styled the work stations just like this old machine!! And behind the bar, he had this shelf on which he’d displayed all sorts of quirky knickknacks he’d picked up over the years. Hmmm!

The choice of Faux Wood Blinds.

This got me back to my pet interest – the windows. I went into a tirade, telling him to get blinds to cover his windows, and that it would look like the interiors we saw in the ‘That 70’s Show’. Besides, the windows were so huge that the solar gain he was soon going to be hit with just wasn’t funny. The place would be like an oven, even with the HVAC chugging away! He whined and moaned and said he was broke, he had to wait a couple of months before his bank balance would allow him to breathe easy, blah, blah, blah.


I managed to convince him into ordering the 2.5-inch Lake Forest Faux Wood Blinds from Graber. They come pretty cheap and they look  just as good as real wood blinds, while providing the same functions of light control and insulation. The ‘natural’ tint picked up the light color of the pine table tops. Made from plastic polymers that can be completely recycled once its use is over, it provides an eco-friendly option that doesn’t burn a hole into the pocket! Perfect for use in a commercial establishment run by a cash-strapped owner! I convinced him to get the motorized option with a remote for all the blinds to go with a single control. He could avail tax savings by using automated window shading that optimized the benefits of daylight, saving him on utilities as well.


As he’d opted for an online purchase, the installation was all DIY, and I promised to stay till his blinds arrived, in order to help him put them up, seeing as he’s hopeless at DIY projects, and I was the one who persuaded him into getting them. A fair exchange for a free meal, wouldn’t you say?! Anything for saving him an extra buck, and the whingeing! Here’s to the retro look! Easy as apple pie!


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