Call it the Stranger Things effect: Everything ’80s is big again. We’ve seen this trend building for a while, first with terrazzo and more recently with glass brick walls—and now, there’s a new material on the rise. That laminate furniture set that you had in your childhood bedroom is all the rage again. In fact, vintage sellers can hardly keep it in stock.
“All of a sudden, one day it clicked, and now our customers love it,” says Nick Longhi, one of the founders of Brooklyn-based vintage shop Dobbin St. Co-op. “I feel like some people are getting over that mid-century vibe. Everybody wants something a little more glam. Sometimes dark mid-century wood can be drab; laminate is a curvy and sexy alternative.”
The laminate pieces that are enjoying a particular resurgence in popularity are clean-lined with rounded edges. Though the vintage furniture spans the ’70s through the ’90s, “some of the groovier, more uniquely shaped pieces are from the ’70s,” Longhi notes.
A hardware-less dresser or nightstand with waterfall edges is the easiest way to get into the trend, but if you want to go all-out (and you’re friends with a vintage dealer who can help you source it), a full set is the way to go. “A lot of times, people had these pieces custom-made for their houses,” Longhi explains. “Especially when you go out to Long Island, they’ll have a dresser, a desk custom fitted in the corner, and nightstands.”
Neutral pieces (in white, gray, and black) are most common, but highly coveted pink is the rarest of all—not to mention the occasional patterned design, like faux marble or snakeskin. “It’s hard to find them in good condition because when you chip wood you can cover it up, but when you chip laminate, you can’t,” Longhi says. “These pieces kind of died out once companies started making them in cheaper materials in the ’90s and they started to fall apart a lot easier.”
While laminate furniture is unapologetically retro, it can actually blend in easily with a more modern design scheme. “I’d style it super minimal,” says vintage-loving designer Patrick McGrath. “It’s a cool retro look, so maybe just a small stack of books and a simple sculptural element or Mapplethorpe-esque flowers.”
Since this trend hasn’t yet had a revival by way of West Elm or CB2, you’ll have to head to your local antique dealer or scour Craigslist to get your hands on it. Just tell us if you find a pink set, okay?