Home Refresh

Trendy accents can provide an up-to-date look. 

By: Nancy A. Herrick, Special to the Journal Sentinel

March 9, 2018 – Just as in fashion, trends in the world of home décor come and go. A fresh focus pumps a bit of pizzazz into a room, but unlike a splashy little dress or new pastel flats, it often comes with a very large price tag.

While you don’t want your living room to resemble a time capsule from decades past, you also don’t want to break the bank by following every trendy new color scheme or upholstery theme that comes along.

What to do?

“Trends can be a challenging part of interior design because they are fleeting,” says Waukesha County interior designer Karen Kempf of Karen Kempf Interiors.

“I like to incorporate classic and timeless elements as the foundation of my designs. Then area rugs, throw pillows and table top accessories can interject a current trend and give some personality to a space. These elements can easily be changed out for future trends without the investment of replacing all the main pieces,” she says.

Interior designer Marianne Kohlmann, of Blue Hot Design in Glendale, offers a thoughtful perspective:

“Design trends, at best, reflect cultural interests and new technology,” she says, “and at worst are planned obsolescence — a way for manufacturers to get us to keep buying their new products.”

No one wants to fall victim to that.

However, Pat Bowling, in her role as a vice president for the American Home Furnishings Alliance, has seen innumerable trends come and go. Her experience has taught her something special.

“In the home furnishings industry, every trend seems to be balanced with a counter trend,” she says. “So when we start talking about jewel tones dominating, for example, you can be sure there are some softer pastels and easy-on-the-eye neutrals being introduced as an alternative to that trend for those whose home décor tastes just don’t include jewel tones.”

This is where individual style comes into play. All of those options, she says, make personalizing your space “an adventure.”

“You are free to choose colors, styles and themes that make YOU feel most at home,” Bowling says.

While you wouldn’t want to hop on every bandwagon, Bowling cautions against completely ignoring trends.

“You never know when a fresh new color or accent might be just the update you need to infuse a room with a special sense of style,” she says.

So what are some of today’s trends and design touches that may help you provide an updated look?  Experts, including local and national experts and the folks at Pinterest and Houzz, suggest many of these:

Bold florals. We’ve seen geometrics, Ikats and damasks dominate for the past decade, and they are starting to look a bit tired. Colorful large-scale prints, including bursting florals, look fresh and new, however.

“They can make a bold statement,” says Kempf, especially when used in a bold way – such as in wallpaper on an accent wall or an entire room.

In its design predictions for 2018, Houzz editors listed florals as making a comeback. “Forget low-energy patterns and think botanical references in high-contrast colors such as black and white or teal and gold in oversized blooms.”

Ancestral inspirations. “From the waiting list for passes to the new African-American Museum in Washington, D.C., to the explosion of DNA test kit sales, Americans are intrigued with exploring their ancestry,” says Bowling.

In fact, Credence Research estimates that the ancestry-focused genetic testing market will grow from $70 million in 2015 to $340 million by 2022.

“As Americans discover how their families’ stories and histories have been shaped by global influences, perhaps it is no surprise they are fueling a resurgence in globally inspired home furnishings,” Bowling says.

Terrazzo. It’s also no surprise that the new appreciation for modern midcentury design is fueling a return to terrazzo floors. Pinterest found that “saves” for terrazzo were up 316% in 2017. This forgotten flooring, according to Pinterest number crunchers, “is brightening up ceilings, floor entryways and everything in between.”

Terrazzo also is sustainable, durable and colorful. The Marmoreal terrazzo collection for Dzek is especially environmentally friendly, using quarry waste material in its engineered marble.

An end to all-white kitchen cabinets. They, too, have been around for a while and though classic, the look could use an update. Enter painted cabinets: sometimes used throughout the kitchen, sometimes just used for uppers or for lowers.

“White will always be a classic palette for kitchens, but as homeowners look for ways to make their space personalized and unique, we’re seeing a rise in color. The Houzz community is incorporating colors like gray and blue into their spaces,” according to Houzz editors. And Joanna Gaines of HGTV’s “Fixer Upper” just did a striking kitchen in sage.

Sinks as a focal point. Speaking of kitchens, stainless or white sinks may be timeless and safe, but with all of the new choices out there, they are rather boring. Trough or bucket sinks are among the alternatives. “And their rise dovetails nicely with the expected continued prevalence of quieted-down modern farmhouse style,” according to Houzz experts.

Look for Kohler’s Neoroc and Farmstead sinks, which made a splash at the recent National Kitchen and Bath Association national trade show.

Mixed metals. Hardware manufacturers are trying to persuade consumers to opt for antique brass and burnished gold tones as a new alternative to brushed nickel or bronze, but it has been a tough sell. Perhaps that’s because the ubiquitous brass (both polished and antique) finishes of the 1980s and early ‘90s aren’t far enough behind in our rear-view mirror.

One particularly fresh look, however, is mixing metals, especially for those who can’t commit.

“Cool metallic tones combined with warm metal finishes on everything from hardware to light fixtures is going strong,” says Kempf.

Throw in rose gold, too, for a particularly up-to-date look.

The analysts at Pinterest refer to this as “the magic of metals.”

“Metals mesh with any color palette,” they explain. “But to really amp up a space, mix different finishes together.” Lots of Pinterest pinners are doing just that; saves for “mixed metals” were up 423% last year.

Locafurn. If the “locavore” movement relates to locally sourced foods, why not a “locafurn” movement to celebrate what’s special about a specific region or city?

“Furniture buyers define ‘local’ in different ways, but the local furniture trend will definitely impact home interiors in 2018,” says Bowling, who sees all of the new collections when they are introduced at the High Point twice a year.

“For some, ‘buy local’ means American-made, like the hand-crafted furniture done by craftsmen at Gat Creek Furniture in West Virginia. Collections inspired by distinct American cities also are trending,” she says, “including collections from A.R.T’s American Chapter collection, inspired by distilleries, farms and stables in Kentucky.”

To truly embrace this trend, look for artisans and furniture makers at area fairs and shows whose work is one of a kind — and as local as you can get.

Quiet down. The minimalist movement has spawned rooms that are pared down, with less clutter, fewer accessories and natural, restful elements. The furnishings often feature simple lines and subdued colors.

Spa bathrooms that serve as a tranquil getaway also are part of this decorating trend that is much more than that: you could think of it as a philosophy or movement. Pinterest found that searches for “spa bathrooms” were up 269% last year.

The look also manifests itself in tranquil Zen bedrooms that serve as retreats, often devoid of electronics. But Kohlmann is reluctant to label the tranquil approach as simply minimalist.

“We design Zen retreat-style bedrooms to be inviting, comfortable, relaxing and sexy,” she says. ““They are essentialist in nature.”

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