Furniture and Accessory Trends
By Sandra Meineke
There are no trends in furniture and home décor anymore. Or, everything is a trend, depending on what list, blog or design book you read. Basically, anything goes.
Design leaders at High Point Market say home decorating is now far less about specific styles or periods, and more about putting a personal stamp on each room. Designers and exhibitors at the October market confirmed that home decorating is less about following a fad, and much more about feel-good comfort and simpler designs.
Designer and television personality Angelo Surmelis says, “I know so many people who have a bunch of art work, photos and other kinds of stuff just sitting in the back of a closet, in the middle of gardening tools on a rack in the garage or amongst the inflatable reindeer in the attic. What gives? C’mon! Let’s get that stuff up on the walls.➝
“There are no rules here,” Surmelis says. “Really, the only rule is to make it yours. This is your home and it needs to tell your story. Great design only happens when you challenge yourself. This isn’t an exact science. It’s creativity. Anything can happen.”
Some of the more traditional furniture manufacturers such as Hooker, Broyhill and Ashley have a more narrow design palette than the individual designers they feature, and can actually put into words trends that they are seeing from consumers’ purchases.
Broyhill representative Lisa Hanly says the trend is crisp, modern and neutral and pillows and wall color can change with the trends. She adds that menswear fabrics are hot and blue is making a strong comeback against the pinks, corals and reds of last season.
WHAT’S OLD IS NEW — AND RECLAIMED
According to one Echelon Custom Home representative, the hottest new design trend at the 2012 Atlanta accessory and furniture market could be summed up in one word – reclaimed. “Almost any piece of salvaged, painted, worn, washed, scraped or distressed wood had been made into furniture. Oak made a big showing with light driftwood and charcoal finishes framed with metal accents. Recycled glass and metal were also thrown in the mix of accenting wood pieces. Natural fibers of cotton and linen in neutral colors were adorned with large nail head trim blanketed upholstery pieces. The most exciting trend was the return of coastal inspired collections. This look has always played a large part in the design scheme for coastal areas, but has now landed on the national scene. Shades of navy and tranquil blue-green colors mixed among sand colored linen fabrics complemented distressed furniture pieces.”
Don’t totally count out the color red, however. Sexy, dramatic and alluring, red is unique in its ability to elicit a physical response, say color experts. Certain shades of red actually impact heart rates, stimulate adrenaline glands and instill courage and confidence.
Since most of us could use some courage and confidence to meet the abundant challenges of today, it should come as good news that red will be one of the top colors for 2012. From bombe chests and TV consoles at Hooker Furniture to a red leather sofa at Bradington-Young and a new scarlet wood trim finish at Sam Moore, furniture is red hot. “Red is the most physical, viscerally alive hue in the spectrum,” says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. “Red has an intensity that allures and engages and is encouraging and uplifting. Not only does red do a number on us physically… it elicits a deeply emotional response as well.”
According to Michelle Lamb, director of the Trend Curve, there also are some practical reasons for red’s rise in furniture. “First, corals have been so strong in the past year or so. Red is simply an intensification of this trend. Secondly, with so many neutrals returning, reds return as a classic punctuation mark to off-whites.”
The retail division of Ashley Furniture says the popularity of certain items relates to the Americans’ changing lifestyles. “Decisions about how and where to live have never been more critical,” said Kris Woodcock, vice president of merchandising. “With older consumers wanting to stay put as long as possible, graduating children returning home after college and adult children inviting their parents to live with them, our houses are requiring smarter choices, better use of space and more long-term planning rather than resale considerations.
MORE STORAGE IS MUCH IN DEMAND
Broyhill and Ashley both confirm that added storage is something consumers are asking for. Benches, storage beds and accent pieces can often be used to fill that need. In fact, Ashley puts storage beds near the top of their trend list for 2012. “They’re not just for kids’ rooms anymore. Bedroom furniture pieces with storage are entering master bedroom suites in a big way, with sleek designs inspired by elegant platform beds. For 2012, many of them will include enough storage to reduce the need for both a chest and dresser, or add much-needed extra storage for shoes, off-season clothing, linens and more,” Woodstock said.
Hooker sees what they consider a countertrend appearing on the horizon after several years of a minimalist, clean and serene approach to home décor.
Patterns ranging from Macintosh-inspired fretwork to Art Nouveau-inspired headboards to accents with lacework and needlework motifs to fabrics with ogee and Greek key designs abound in the Hooker Furniture and Sam Moore showrooms. The architectural and geometric patterns “represent a much-needed counter trend to the recent super-clean looks,” said Lamb. “For the past several seasons, the words tiny and small have been the best options for describing designs and fabric. But indications are that this is all about to change. In a striking reversal, the newest size is large, bold and more motif-focused than pattern-based. Moreover, all design categories seem equally interested in exploring the potential of a countertrend in scale. Patterns draw the eye and draw you in. They won’t eliminate the need for a minimalist approach, but will create a better balance between plain and pattern in the two years ahead,” she said.
Colorful, vivacious and extravagant patterns are particularly prevalent in Hooker’s Mélange accent collection. Some blend, while others can define a room’s look. “Patterns that suggest order have great appeal,” said Erica Wingo, product manager at Hooker Furniture. “The shopper gravitates to geometrics, especially those using tracery and stitching to define shape and form.”➝
It seems that consumers believe bigger is better, too, if local furniture sales are any indication. Baker and other popular manufacturers are offering sectionals, console seating, over-sized coffee tables and gathering tables in their collections for some of the following reasons:
• Sectionals: Thanks to family rooms, more entertaining at home and fashion-forward, younger shoppers, sectionals are expected to be big sellers.
• Console seating: Once a luxury product in need of a designated home theater room, theater seating today is going anywhere there’s a big-screen TV. And the console loveseat is the rising star. Perfect for small spaces and budgets, it’s as fully loaded as home theater sofas and sectionals, including cup holders, storage console, plush arms, headrest and chaise-style ottomans, multiple comfort positions and power.
• Bigger coffee tables: Many people opt to eat dinner on the sofa rather than at the kitchen table, explaining the trend to bigger and better coffee tables. Harking back to the 1960s’ conversation pit, a larger coffee table is a magnet for gathering. For 2012, look for pop-up coffee tables for eating or working in front of the TV, storage drawers or shelves and deeper sizes scaled for sectionals.
• Gathering tables: The kitchen may be the emotional and physical center of the home, but it’s the eating area that’s becoming the hub — especially when it’s designed to be a comfortable, live-in gathering place. Higher-height gathering tables or pub tables are the perfect choice, able to house a crowd, double as a workstation or extra cooking surface, or act as space divider between the kitchen and living room (with enough height to see over the sofa to the TV). For 2012, look for unique, transitional styles that bridge more stylish kitchens and less formal living areas.
So, whatever your taste in furniture and color and whatever your needs for a small or blended family, you’ll have plenty to select from based on furniture and colorful finishes and fabrics that will be in abundance and coming soon to a store near you.