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When I was 23, I spent the night in a horrible, it-rubs-the-lotion-on-its-skin-or-else-it-gets-the-hose-again type motel after visiting a college friend. From the sandpaper-ish sheets and sinister guests to the foil-wrapped-TV and smell of mold, everything about it left me scared to sleep anywhere besides an actual home. But Silence of the Lambs flashbacks vanished when, in my late twenties, I encountered the glorious joy known as business travel — the kind that involves gorgeous hotels paid for by the same nice people who issue paychecks. From stunning, big-money chains in Los Angeles to ultra-modern boutiques in Manhattan, I’ve luxuriated in the best of hotel design. However, since I dig fun over fancy, I recently found the mothership of let’s-just-have-a-darn-good-time lodging…Disney’s Pop Century Resort in Lake Buena Vista, FL. As a huge fan of all things retro, this Disney resort is a dream come true, one packed with gigantic, colorful nostalgia and shiny, happy people everywhere. A larger than life time warp journeying from the 1950′s through the 1990′s that will have you saying phrases like ‘remember when’ and explaining to your children the concept of cassettes and mixed tapes.

Disney Pop Century Resort – Sony Walkman + Pacman - HGTV Design Happens

So, what happens if you fall in love with the overall idea of something over the top but want to adapt it into your own home in a less-is-more manner? How do you take away big ideas from hotels, retail stores or theme parks, then make them liveable? I’m glad you asked! Take a look at some of these jaw-dropping inspiration images, then check out toned-down Aha! ideas certain to add artistic nostalgia without swallowing spaces entirely. Hey, if your significant other won’t let you have a nine-foot Sony Walkman to workout to in the backyard, maybe there’s a next best thing that makes for a better use of space…and won’t scare away the neighbors.

Rubik’s Cube - Disney Pop Century Resort – HGTV Design Happens

At Disney’s Pop Century Resort, a three-story Rubik’s cube dominates the exterior stairwell of the 1980′s wing. While this works beautifully here in a theme hotel setting, an over-the-top ode to the mega hit toy would have less staying power than A Flock of Seagulls if done at home. But fret not, my fellow speedcubers…

Brian Patrick Flynn Rubik's Cube Art HGTV Design Happens

If the nostalgia for the Rubik’s magic cube is something you’d like to see artistically in your home daily, check out RubikCubism, original creations sold by the street artist Invasion. Each piece is created by meticulously positioning Rubik’s cubelets so that each color block results in a pixelated version of an iconic image available through Invasion’s online shop at Space-Invaders.com.

PlayDoh - Disney Pop Century Resort – HGTV Design Happens

I’ll tell you a secret. I know a certain HGTV staffer who keeps Play-Doh at her desk. She says the smell reminds her of childhood. A ginormous container of Play-Doh would be a major waste of space in her home. And eventually everything in her house would smell like Play-Doh, her family would leave her, even her dogs. But there is a right way for a favorite childhood toy or game to make a bold and unexpected appearance in your decor…

Brian Patrick Flynn Eric Cohler Scrabble Ceiling HGTV Design Happens

New York designer Eric Cohler took advantage of a blank ceiling, then put it to work as a huge statement in the form of a painted Scrabble board. The color scheme of the classic word game flows from the ceiling down throughout the entire space.

Foosball and Mickey Mouse Phone - Disney Pop Century Resort - HGTV Design Happens

Overall, the coolest installation at the Disney’s Pop Century Resort had to be the 1970′s courtyard with a life-size foosball set flanked by a building-size Mickey Mouse phone. Now, calling a short number like 911 on a rotary dial takes an eternity and everyone is dropping their landlines anyway, so poor giant Mickey would collect a lot of dust. As far as the foosball guys go, they’re really fun! Here’s a cool, colorful way to bring the graphic shape of a foosball player into your home without investing in a game table.

Brian Patrick Flynn Graphic Foosball Pillow HGTV Design Happens

Cafe Press sells uber-fun foosball player throw pillows that can add an ounce of poppy nostalgia to any sofa, armchair or bed. Not only is this much more practical than a nine-foot foosball set, it’s something soft and usable which your head will very much appreciate. Perfect for a boy’s room, game room or bachelor pad.

So I’d like to know, dear readers, have you ever taken the larger-than-life pop culture obsession of a child, spouse or client, toned it down and incorporated it in a home in a way that just worked? Is so, do share.

4 Responses

  1. Anna@HGTV says:

    Hey Brian – A Rubik Credenza: http://onomo.mx/main/auxiliares/rubik/
    I discovered it on Erin Loechner's website: <a href="http://www.designformankind.com” target=”_blank”>www.designformankind.com

  2. inuneson says:

    ;) )))

  3. change lineup says:

    i'm irritated w/ this network!! Hate watching House Hunters & House Hunters International and that is all that is ever on! What ever happend to the great decorating shows?:(

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