RetroFurn brings '60s and '70s flair back to Baltimore with midcentury modern furnishings

A few years ago, a designer walked up to Rick Aronhalt's 100-square-foot booth in Baltimore's Avenue Antiques at 36th and Elm streets in Hampden. At the time, Aronhalt was selling a broad spectrum of antique pieces but toyed with the idea of specializing in midcentury modern furnishings. On a hunch, he had a pair of kitschy lamps with fiberglass shades for sale.

"The designer came in, unscrewed the lamp shades and purchased them for the full price, leaving the [bases of] the lamps sitting there," he recalls.

It was then that he and his business partner, Ronny Nadiv, realized they were on to something.

"Even though we weren't really sure where it would take us, we started working more midcentury pieces of furniture into the space," Aronhalt continues.

Eventually, that new focus took them to a new venue with a new name. RetroFurn LLC, their smart 400-square-foot loft-style store on Hampden's famed 34th Street, opened in August, specializing chiefly in the sale of midcentury modern furniture and accessories. Their inventory includes tables, occasional chairs and home décor such as lamps and kitchenware. Additionally, their Etsy online shop features more than 70 items for sale from their vendors up and down the East Coast.

"People are drawn to the elegant forms of the Scandinavian designs of the '60s and '70s," Aronhalt says. "The work was not only beautiful but also took into account the human form -- how your hand would grip a water pitcher, where your back would need support in a dining chair. Everything came together, and that is a big part of why midcentury modern is still popular today."

The men, who are former employees of the Baltimore Sun Media Group, say they find it rewarding when clients photograph their recently purchased items in their homes and post them online.

"We're trying to warm Baltimore up to the idea of Lucite, and it seems to be working," Nadiv says.

RetroFurn LLC
3401 R Chestnut Ave., Hampden

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