Flip Flop Your Living Areas
While Houstonians are outside in the spring weather this month trying to salvage outdoor living areas after an unusually cold winter, more than 80,000 attendees and 2,000 exhibitors representing 106 countries will be indoors in High Point, North Carolina, at the nation’s largest home furnishings market. Buyers, designers, manufacturers and others in the furniture trade will be absorbing trend ideas, making purchases and stocking showrooms back home in preparation for the time when consumers turn their attention from the garden to the inside of the home.
With one eye on the ecology and the other on financial responsibility, today’s consumers are learning to reuse, recycle and redecorate, often by merging interior and exterior space to create warmth and intimacy both inside and outside the home. Always eager to give the consumer what he or she wants, furniture and accessory manufacturers are balancing products that make outside living spaces distinctly more beautiful and desirable with decorative items that bring exotic locales and nature-inspired styling indoors. Many new furniture designs can be used interchangeably to provide added seating and serving areas indoors or outdoors as needed.
Home accessories are a quick and easy place to start if you’re just looking to add some small revitalizing touches to your rooms. Pillows made from antique linen grain sacks add rustic-chic texture without being uncomfortable. To add a pop of color to your couch, drape it with a throw made from a natural material and eco-friendly dyes. To add a touch of social consciousness, choose from a multitude of throws made by indigenous communities in developing countries, like luxurious alpaca blankets from Peru or mohair from Swaziland. Functional both indoors and out, decorative bowls made from reclaimed wood add a touch of natural beauty, as
do driftwood or Manzanita branches.
You can re-use and recycle when it comes to furniture — just make sure you revitalize first. Consider re-upholstering items like dining chairs with exotic fabrics that are hand-made or antique. Brightly colored Asian textiles make a great statement, as do boldly embroidered fabrics from Mexico. Check out exotic import shops — sometimes you can find large examples of these versatile textiles that can be repurposed for indoor and outdoor use. You can also add new life to pieces you already own by refurbishing them in all-weather paint in the year’s color trends. Turquoise, 2010’s color of the year, continues to be big. This year’s color, honeysuckle, along with cobalt blue and eucalyptus green, are all colors that bring the outdoors in, giving rooms a natural feel.
According to forecasters for the High Point Market Authority, there are seven key looks trending in 2011 designed to meet consumer needs for comfort, glamour, relaxation, romance and even travel — all within the realm of home. Most are not confined to any particular event or living area, but can be created across time and space to meet the mood of the moment. So, get set — in your easy chair or hammock, with a cup of coffee or glass of wine, beside the pool or hearth — and let your imagination soar with all the ways you can turn your urban dwelling into the oasis of your dreams.
Comfort Mood — People are in need of a respite in their homes, and High Point Market exhibitors have responded with warm and comforting looks that have a strong nostalgic spirit. These include: homespun but not kitsch; western and preppy; proper lines and authentic details; florals and quilted patterns; vintage stamps, Victorian animal prints, and handwritten letters; hammered and forged hardware providing hand-touched details; retro-style silhouettes; and textural treasures that rebound from a high-tech world with tactile touches.
Take Me Away — Exotic excursions are intriguing, even if consumers may not be able to afford to travel to faraway lands. That wanderlust is sparking new looks such as: Mediterranean cruise collections from Tuscan and Spanish to Moorish influences; eastern safari, peacock feathers, turquoises and pinks and sari patterns; exotic animal prints; a Ming blue color that’s more Ming vase than navy; and ocean view sailor stripes, bright blues and sophisticated nautical touches.
Al Fresco — A backlash to the high-tech world has us stepping into the great outdoors to escape with these looks from Mother Nature: romantic garden lattice patterns, romantic florals, butterflies; au naturel linens, burlaps, natural leathers; bird motifs, from owls and hawks to peacocks or feathers; organic materials including tortoiseshell, cocoa twigs, shells, banana leaves and onion skin; and the trend toward neutral greys and tans continues.
Color Me Glad — Bright colors are stirred in with grey and neutrals to bring a pop of happy color to an otherwise calm and soothing palette. Turquoise, the 2010 color of the year, is still going strong. It has been joined by the 2011 color of the year, honeysuckle, along with lime green, mid-range pinks and chartreuse. While turquoise served as an escape for many, honeysuckle emboldens us to face everyday troubles with verve and vigor. A dynamic reddish pink, honeysuckle is encouraging and uplifting. It elevates our psyche beyond escape, instilling the confidence, courage and spirit to meet the exhaustive challenges that have become part of everyday life.
“In times of stress, we need something to lift our spirits. Honeysuckle is a captivating, stimulating color that gets the adrenaline going — perfect to ward off the blues,” explains Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. “Honeysuckle derives its positive qualities from a powerful bond to its mother color red, the most physical, viscerally alive hue in the spectrum. This color, not the sweet fragrance of the flower blossoms for which it was named, is what attracts hummingbirds to nectar. Honeysuckle may also bring a wave of nostalgia for its associated delicious scent reminiscent of the carefree days of spring and summer.”
Shape of Things to Come — This trend draws a line from point A to point B. For those who need organization and a sense of security in their lives, patterns can provide that level of continuity. Expect to see stripes from menswear looks to broad patterns, repetitive patterns, circles, diamonds, crisp rectangular shapes and crescents.
This Is How We Live — The way we use our living spaces is changing dramatically, and home furnishings companies are responding with products to fit the new reality. Some of these include: less matchy-matchy and more eclectic; armoires are out while chifforobes, tall chests and high-profile dressers that support flat screens and tech components are in. Also in are high-tech trends including laptop desks, wired writing desks, gaming stations and Wii storage. Servers are standing taller at work-height levels; bars for serving drinks are showing up at all price points; and youth furniture is selling at a brisk pace, as parents and grandparents spend on kids before themselves.
Finishing the Story — It’s all about the finishes, or the lack of finishes. Take your pick from distressed and scraped finishes; worn waxed finishes that are super-soft to touch; unfinished looks offering a rustic feel; mixed wood tones — either on one piece of furniture or with several woods mixed in one collection; and metallic sheens in brushed finishes and bronzes.
While our northern neighbors are still digging out from winter, our outdoor living spaces will already be revitalized, and we can be at the forefront of the move to turn our living spaces inside out.
By Sandra Meineke