Shopping in Homewood, Ala.

I swear that as soon as I walked into the furniture store Soho Retro in Homewood, Ala., I expected to see Aunt Helen stub out her cigarette in a glass ashtray on her Eames (-inspired?) coffee table and rise from her Hans Wegner-style sofa (although she called it a “divan”) to greet us. Which would be a great trick since she died about 20 years ago and had to give up smoking and her mid-century Modern home several years before that. Soho Retro, where the late lamented Red Rain eco-friendly general store was,  definitely is time travel at its finest — not to mention a top destination for furnishing a space with all things 1950s. As my friends and I wandered through and admired, we began every sentence with, “I remember …” (Well, okay, my sentences also began with “Are we ready to go get some coffee now?” and “I really shouldn’t have had that second martini at lunch.”) I’m conflicted about the recent revival of mid-20th-century Modern style. On one hand, I love its sleek minimalism and function-equals-form industrial approach. On the other hand, since I lived it, I’m not sure about embracing it wholeheartedly 40 or so years later. It’s the same as in fashion: Just because I once wore pleated and tapered pants and long boxy blazers doesn’t mean I should do it again. No matter what Nina Garcia says.

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