Back to the Future: Keen on Retro

Self-adhesive contact paper has emerged in architectural circles in a wealth of styles and patterns, and is giving designers a chic blast from the past.

Let it Shine: Translucent resin panels from Lumicor are a hit with designer Karla Trincanello’s clients.
Photo by Joe Polillio

Resurrecting past looks continues to be a fun trend. (Case in point: that flocked wallpaper.) Beth Insabella Walsh is keen on contact paper—yes, that same stuff we lined our kitchen cabinets with in the 1970s—but that’s where the similarity ends. Self-adhesive contact paper has emerged in architectural circles in a wealth of styles and patterns. “When I think of contact paper, I think of that walnut pattern,” said Insabella Walsh, but now, “you can go metallic. There are linens and woods.” The product she demonstrated, DI-NOC Architectural Finishes, was recently launched by 3M and can be used to re-finish furniture, back a bookcase or add interest to do-it-yourself projects. It’s available in 500 natural and synthetic finishes, including stone, marble and granite—and the ultimate throwback, wood grain. “It’s very durable,” she said. It bends around corners, and “it’s more cost effective than using plastic laminate.” (Available only to the trade at

Another surface application making a comeback is synthetic resin. Think laminate with a major update. “My clients are going nuts for this,” said designer Karla Trincanello. The translucent resin panels, manufactured by Lumicor, have built-in patterns, like linen, or added inserts, like grasses or metallics—or both. Trincanello said the panels can be used to create a backsplash, as inserts in wood doors, or in myriad other ways. “The materials are amazing and can work anywhere glass, wood, stone or tiles can be used,” she said.

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