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Remember when black and mauve was the hot color combination and when mirrors were all the rage? Well, in case you are too young to remember, those were some of the staples of 80s home décor.

The 80s were indeed the decade of opulence, marble, gold, and mirrors; however these days, the trend is toward minimalism and more subtle design. Even so, it may not be unusual for a potential buyer to travel back in time when faced with an apartment that has not been renovated since its 80s glory. As an interior designer who often works on renovations, and a home stager used to working with furniture and accessories limited to a home sellers own possessions, my biggest tip is to embrace the past!

I was recently asked by the extraordinarily talented real estate agent Angela Rapoport of The Corcoran Group to stage her Penthouse listing located at 255 East 49th Street on Manhattan’s East Side. As someone old enough to remember, I immediately identified the fact that I had walked back into the 1980s, cue the DeLorean car and Patrick Nagel painting, anyone?

While it would have been easy to suggest covering up as much of the 80s-themed design as possible, I chose to embrace it, as this property is truly spectacular and to me and it never makes sense to cover up great design, no matter when it was done.

The reality is the same challenges I faced as an interior designer and home stager are similar to those that any home owner or home seller will face when looking to modernize an interior space designed decades earlier.

Here are some of my top tips for modernizing the past while embracing the present:

1. First, embrace the current décor and use it as inspiration. In the case of the Penthouse at 255 East 49th Street, all of the floors were either black or white marble, or a combination of the two. My solution was to build a color palette around the two colors, infusing bursts of bright color while using black and white as the foundation for my color scheme.

2. Soften a space, while adding color and texture. Whether floors are made of marble or hardwood, it is often an appealing solution to add softness through the use of area rugs and soft goods such as toss pillows.

3. Add elements such as greenery. Nothing quite softens a space like the use of plants and greenery. When I am often faced with interiors that have a lot of architectural or natural elements, I try to keep my décor as simple as possible. One example of this in the case of the Penthouse at 255 East 49th Street was to select a centerpiece that was a simple orchid, as opposed to something too elaborate.

4. Select a mix of modern and contemporary furnishings. The wonderful aspect about design is that you don’t have to follow any formulas! For instance in the case of the 80s penthouse, I mixed modern, timeless pieces with those that were more antique, in order to embrace the existing architectural details. It is important to not ignore the current design and décor but instead to embrace it as another design element.

5. Finally, focus on function and lifestyle, when it comes to lifestyle, we are always evolving, a room that may have been popular in another decade, may now be considered to be a waste of space. These days, with space at such a premium, it is even more important than ever that all areas of a residence are shown as useful and with a purpose.

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