Every new year is a chance to make a new start in your design business, or simply in up-dating your own home. For NYIAD Special Report on Design Trends for 2007, we went to the center of the country, to see what designers in mid-America have to say about the trends they're seeing in their work.
For Deb Myers, owner of Distinctive Designs in Fishers, Indiana, 2007 means an exciting, eclectic mix of styles.
"Good design continues to focus on comfort and style but things are less matched," she said. "That is, rooms are done in a combination of styles, Warm Contemporary mixed with Urban, Tuscan accents with Warm Contemporary lines and colors."
All this mixing means there is also an interest in cleaning up bulky, fussy looks. "There are cleaner lines, and often times in accessories, less is more. Bold art and bold rugs continue to be focal point faves," Myers said.
Paula Zukor, owner of Decor & You in Bristol, Pennsylvania, has seen more clients who want help with remodeling projects — which of course includes redecorating — as a way of boosting the salability of their homes in a softening market.
"People are more savvy today about their home — what it looks like, how it functions — and are wisely beginning to realize that an investment in their home today will bring rewards tomorrow when the housing market is on the upswing again," she said.
Specifically, Zukor sees the biggest decorating trend in wallpaper, a decorating tool that fell into disfavor in the 1980s but is now making a comeback with new styles and materials.
"Today's wallpaper is beautiful, durable and stylish," Zukor said. "There is a paper for every decorating style and then some. It really adds a ton of visual interest, dimension and texture to any room in the home. It's easy to clean and actually has a longer life than paint. Grasscloths and textures are looking terrific too."
The continuing electronic revolution is exerting a real change in decorating, both Zukor and Myers have found. For Myers, "multi-purpose rooms are taking over," with the ubiquitous flat screen TV in every room, even the kitchen and bath, and with bedrooms incorporating lounge or bar areas.
"Lower levels feature full service refrigerators and kitchens and media rooms," Myers said. "A home office is a must, even if a bedroom becomes an office. "
Today's professionals want comfort and relaxation after a hard day's work," Myers said, while still being able to check in to the office from home as comfortably as possible.
Among Zukor's clientele, the bigger TVs are bringing families home more, and rooms are increasingly focused on the TV.
One change seen by designer Liz CaJacob of Upper Arlington, Ohio, is that people are using formal dining rooms less and less.
"This generation's entertaining has become much more casual, so many people have no need for a formal dining room. Instead, a resident may use this area as either a sitting/reading room or a home office."
The casual approach is making people put comfort as their number one priority, Zukor said.
"People want stylish environments without sacrificing comfort. They still want to feel they can flop on the sofa — and that means more durable, kid & pet-friendly fabrics and furniture."
This desire for comfort and durability has led Zukor to research fabrics that will stand up, and she's found durability doesn't have to mean "plain-vanilla microfibers or ultrasuedes. There are plenty of great looking fabrics in a multitude of prints, colors and textures that fit this bill."
Like Myers, Zukor sees extra rooms turned into home offices or libraries, and even "an under-utilized dining room can be turned into an 'internet cafe'."
CaJacob also sees home offices and exercise rooms taking the place of spare bedrooms, and she notes that "the basement is no longer a place for storage of Christmas decorations," because the basement is being put to better use as a multi-media room or a place to watch major sporting events on TV.
Not just decorating, but also home building is changing to accommodate the need for more — and more versatile — rooms.
"The newer homes are being built with extra multi-purpose rooms or lofts, and many big kitchens have nooks that can be used to house a computer or a place to pay bills. Some higher-end refrigerators today even have TVs built in! Today's family has so many options — why not be as imaginative and creative as possible?" Zukor said.
All that use of all this electricity may be offset by the increasing interest in "green" design, at least in Zukor's neck of the design woods.
"Green is here to stay!" Zukor said, refusing to call green design a trend. "We're required, as professionals, to learn as much about "going green" as possible. It's becoming mandatory, in order to be a certified interior decorator, to be well-versed in the "green" approach. Building codes will probably change over time to reflect this shift in perspective as well."
CaJacob sees the green trend in the use of bamboo, particularly in flooring, as it is easily replenished.
The different approaches to color taken by Zukor and Myers could reflect how different parts of the country view colors, and point out the importance of being in touch with the popular trends in your own area.
For Myers, it's the warm colors that are most desired, which goes along with the general traditional trend she sees. "Traditional, Tuscan and Warm Contemporary Styles lean toward color trends incorporating reds and olive greens, warm bronzes and golds," Myers said. Design Markets feature bright colors like lime green and burnt orange in Modern and Contemporary Design."
But for Zukor, the "sage, red and gold palette" that has predominated looks "tired and unimaginative now."
She encourages clients who want to freshen a look to try "deep berry or pomegranate tones, juxtaposed with clays, pale greens and pale golds to make it look new and exciting."
Zukor also sees a variety of blues as making a comeback. "What looks cleaner or fresher than a blue & white color scheme? Like black & white, it's a classic! Think of lovely blue & white export china and chinoiserie ceramics. Blue & yellow is another classic combo."
Myers and Zukor agree that colors in the browns are ever-popular. "The warm neutrals — chocolate browns, cocoas, mochas, ecrus — still look great with blues, greens and pinks. These are classic & sophisticated color combinations that won't go out of style anytime soon," Zukor said.
For Myers, these warmer colors have even taken over the classic black and white: "Brown is the new black and warm cream is the new white," she said.
CaJacob also sees more use of these colors. "The chocolates-paired-with-blues trend will continue to pick up speed in 2007. We will see more blues, greens and oranges. Blues and purples used together will become a popular trend as well."
However, for Zukor, "anything black & white looks fresher than ever! Especially when it's accented with strong colors like chartreuse, canary yellow, lipstick red or shocking pink."
In terms of flooring, Myers sees mosaic and inlaid wood as being popular for the coming year.
"Bold contrasting outlines and designs on hardwood are popular in foyers and dining rooms," Myers said. "Mosaic tile murals in round patterns on entries set a strong statement for the style of the home, and often sizes are mixed."
For CaJob, the new thing in flooring is cork, as well as the bamboo. "These are both great ways to keep the clean classic look of hardwood floors, while adding a modern twist. The standard shag or long textured carpets are becoming dramatically thicker and longer."
Zukor's clients ask for hardwood floors more than for any other kind of flooring, and she also sees an increase in the use of mosaic. "In certain areas, medallions inset into the floor is a creative alternative to area rugs — for instance, in an entrance foyer, or in a kitchen where the appliances are. I think we'll be seeing more applications like this."
The lighting news is low for Myers, but high for Zukor.
"Low lighting like lamps and floor lights are also in rooms with recessed ceiling can lighting giving the homeowner the option to choose the amount of lighting they want as well as the mood they want to create," Myers said.
But Zukor's clients are looking up: "Keep your eye on chandeliers," Zukor said. "The scale of higher ceilings are crying out for it! And they are so dramatic — in the bathroom, a kitchen, even in the bedroom."
In terms of furniture, Myers' own preference is for "well-constructed upholstery that gives a clean elegant line or shape."
"Bold florals and plaids are outdated and more concentration is being placed on accent furniture that doesn't all look exactly alike," she said. "This gives interest and makes us appreciate each item selected in the room instead of focusing on the sofa as a focal point."
Along with Myers' interest in mixing eclectic styles in the overall look of a room, she also enjoys mixing odd pieces of furniture to add an interesting note in a room.
"Wood tones should be similar but don't need to be the same. I love the new use of large ottomans as cocktail tables and many vendors are incorporating a cocktail table and large ottoman in one piece of furniture that allows us to put up our feet, have additional seating and place table setting and have storage all on the same surface."
Zukor is looking forward to seeing if the "lush and whimsical style of 'Hollywood Regency' style takes off in the mainstream this year. "It's not for everyone, and it's the antithesis of lean & spare 'lifestyle' catalog decorating!"
In all this talk of trends, it's easy to start thinking you need to go with whatever is most popular, but what really matters is what look you want in your home, or what look really fits with your client's style.
"You can never go wrong with the classics. Trends come and go but classics are timeless," Zukor said. "Invest your money wisely when it comes to your home, even if you're just starting out in life."
CaJacob agreed. "You are the person who lives there day in and day out. The important thing is that you are comfortable in your home, regardless of the trends."