My grandma, who lived in Rockaway, loved beige. From the Jute beige walls to her Japanese zen garden, everything in her home was a sandy hue that tonally matched with her blonde hair in a way that always satisfied me as a kid. Perusing any online list or article about timeless furniture, the term “neutral” comes up a lot. So does “earth tones,” “vintage,” “traditional,” and “quality” (all adjectives that describe the exact opposite of Geoglam or Cocaine Decor basically). These terms are just intangible buzzwords but what I can carry with me while designing my new apartment is the way my grandma’s design made me feel: cozy, clean, refined, important, and alive. When I think about timeless style, it’s her that comes to mind.
And so, with a plethora of tonal memories guiding me, I’ve rounded up a list of items that are purposeful and utilitarian but will also give you that comfort-of-home feeling. We’re moving away from bright colors and flashy compositions and will be embracing simpler, time-tested models:
Designed by Charles and Ray Eames in 1956, this chair has maintained its status as a minimalist icon. The chair has been featured in the hit TV show Frasier, the movie Click (the devastating Adam Sandler flick), and Gossip Girl, further solidifying its timeless spot in living rooms across America.
Four-poster beds are the height of luxury. Mention of them appears in 12th-century Irish manuscripts, however historians point to 13th century Austria as the agreed-upon source of their emergence. During the Tudor period in England, the beds symbolized royalty and wealth. Eight centuries later, and they still convey nobility and historicity. Who among us hasn’t had a lil’ Princess and the Pea fantasy?
The first Persian carpet dates back 2500 years ago, to the Sassanid period (224 - 641 CE). Warring monarchs used to grab these as bounty and I think we can all understand why. Here’s one from California seller Pop Up Home that I love.
I must flex here and say I have two Shaker chairs in my apartment. They’re hand-me-downs from my boyfriend’s mom and I love them so much. They give even my city apartment a homey, country vibe. Etsy actually has a nice selection of affordable Shaker Chairs if you’re willing to spend some time combing through.
The chic Barcelona day bed from Knoll would knock the socks off of any therapist’s office or Condé Nast waiting room.
Screens are great for small apartments and bigger spaces alike. They can make one room into two. Home Union and Lichen each sell a wobbly vintage Artek Screen from Finland that would compliment any living space.
Okay, so I may have snuck this in considering disco balls can be traced back to a very specific era in American History. However, I think since the ‘70s disco balls have become timeless. There I said it. My former roommate and I had two of them in our old apartment and they reflected late afternoon light so beautifully, scattering it across the walls in watercolor-like slashes. Greenpoint vintage shop Feng Sway always has them on deck.
I’ve started watching The Sopranos recently (I know, I’m late) and nothing makes me feel more like Tony than a classic leather club chair.
Feather-light, spindly, and surprisingly sturdy, the Windsor Chair pairs as well with a Regency-era table as with a bouclé sofa. Warning: a true vintage Windsor can be hard to find and expensive.
Seller of mid-century wares BCH Furniture posted an epic art-deco bar cart that feels like it belongs in the home of the Royal Tenenbaums. Bar carts take hosting to the next level. Serve me a martini off one of these and I’m yours forever.
Resembling the eponymous flower, the Tulip Table — designed by Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen in 1956 — has a pedestal base opposed to typical standing legs. Saarinen designed the piece for Knoll International along with Tulip chairs called “the pedestal group.” The style is now ubiquitous in dining rooms and coffee shops alike.
Whether draped over a dining chair (how European!) or resting on the floor beside your bed to make sure the first thing your feet touch in the morning is warm and cozy, a sheepskin rug serves as a flawless accent. Canada Wool is a Niagara Falls-based sheepskin specialist offering dozens of varieties of sheepskin throws.
This one is sooo medieval. (But doesn’t have to be!) Apparently, chandeliers evolved from the candelabra. The idea of a chandelier can seem tacky, but there are myriad variations — from dramatic crystal numbers to modernist suspended orbs. Regardless of your taste, a bold chandelier-style light has a dramatic and refined effect on your dining space. I, for one, love to search on eBay for them.
Wavy mirrors, like this one from Houston-based vintage seller Part Time, have been particularly fashionable lately but any very big mirror leaned up against a wall looks timelessly chic.
The prolific Eero Saarinen (see: Tulip table) also designed the classy womb chair in 1948 after Florence Knoll tasked him with designing a chair that was like “a basket of pillows.” This design looks elegant in any color but I’m partial to the “flame” upholstery.
Ugh, I want one so bad! Noguchi’s lantern lamp designs, also known as Akari Light Sculptures, are fashioned in the traditional way those in Gifu, Japan make lanterns. They completely capture the idea of “weightlessness.” The only problem is I think my cats would readily destroy them.
Dendwell seller Form listed this all-white Hollywood-style vanity this summer designed by Luigi Massoni in 1968. This particular design folds into itself, but vanities of all shapes and sizes are classics. This one from La Ruelle Vintage in Montreal is also epic. Consider me Elizabeth Taylor!