Home Design Newsletter

What’s New in Home Design
What’s popular in interior design is ever-changing, and the influences behind the trends are often surprising. Here are some current styles you may see on television and websites, in home-design magazines and showrooms, and perhaps in your own neighborhood.

Green is mainstream.
The desire to live in a more earth-friendly manner has influenced every aspect of home design. Green products now permeate the industry and are no longer merely add-ons or afterthoughts. If eco-friendly materials were once considered frumpy, they are now stylish, from sustainable wood flooring, to nontoxic paints, to countertops made from reclaimed wood, glass or paper. And because consumers want to keep and use meaningful old items, ideas about what “fits” with a particular decor have greatly expanded.
Practical gourmet kitchens. The immense popularity of television cooking shows and restaurant-based reality shows—coupled with an economy that has people eating in rather than dining out—has sparked a desire for more “industrial” gourmet kitchens. Homeowners are installing extra-deep sinks that will accommodate spaghetti pots, and oversized, single-handle faucets. Home cooks are also opting for sturdier, commercial-grade appliances.
Streamlined silhouettes for furniture. Sofas and chairs are less bulky and more streamlined, and these sleeker silhouettes likely relate to the advent of flat-screen televisions. For many years, consumers bought large armoires for their living areas and bedrooms, in order to hide their monstrous televisions. Now that TVs can be mounted on a wall or placed atop virtually any piece of furniture, armoires are disappearing, and their hulking profiles no longer dictate the scale of a room’s furnishings.
Luxurious beds and baths. Who doesn’t enjoy staying at a luxury hotel or being pampered at a spa? Consumers are bringing home some of that high-end comfort with sumptuous towels and bedding, and many are opting for bamboo, an eco-friendly fiber that’s highly absorbent. For master bathrooms, hotel-style bath sheets (oversized towels that measure 35 by 70 inches) are very popular, as are towel warmers and deluxe showerheads. Consumers are waking up to the fact that their beds can be luxurious and comfortable without being fussy: the “simple bed” is in, and out are the big arrays of decorative pillows and bolsters that dominated the bed.
Emerging colors. When it comes to color trends, grays may be challenging browns as the favored neutrals. Interior designer Dixie Stark, owner of Seattle-based DA STARK Interiors, says that in the brighter palettes, two particular colors are coming on strong and may have staying power. “I’m seeing a lot of pale purples and lavenders being used, and these shades go great with blues, greens, browns and silver grays,” Stark explains. “Interestingly, men who shy away from pinks are very comfortable with these purples.” The second color is a variation of the teal that was so pervasive in the ‘80s. “This new shade is called ‘peacock,’ and it’s got a bit more blue in it,” Stark says. “It’s a strong, rich color that’s perfect for a bold accent.”
Help for painters. Paint is a relatively easy and inexpensive way to make a dramatic change in decor, and paint retailers offer many resources to help consumers find the right color. Benjamin Moore has several virtual tools at benjaminmoore.com, and the company also sells 260 of its colors in 2-ounce sample sizes for painting test swatches. Some companies also offer poster-sized color chips that can be taped anywhere to help homeowners judge how a color works with the light, carpet and furnishings. But choosing the right color can still be agonizing, which is why paint stores also employ consultants who will come to your home and make color recommendations. The service is often free of charge, and almost always under $100.

Sources for inspiration. Architectural Digest, Elle Decor, Metropolitan Home and The New York Times’ Thursday “Home” section are respected publications for illustrating trends in quality decor; all offer websites. And cable network HGTV and hgtv.com have earned a huge, loyal following of design fans.

Since styles do vary by region, your local newspaper is a practical source for trends and styles specific to your area. Finally, nothing beats in-person research, so go out and enjoy local home tours and design expos.

From design pros

Try a few of these interior-designer secrets in your own home!
Black magic.
To make the colors in any room appear dramatically crisper, add a black accent in a prominent location. A lamp, book, vase or bowl will work, as will a grouping of black stones.
Mirror, mirror.
Mirrors can solve many design dilemmas. Brighten a dark room by positioning a mirror to reflect light from a window or a lamp. Mirrors also make small rooms appear larger, and windowless rooms appear airier. You can also place a mirror so that if you’re seated with your back to the view, it can still be enjoyed via the reflection.
Books make living areas look more cozy and inviting, whether it’s a small stack of vintage classics or a few oversized coffee-table books. They immediately add color and texture to any room.
Outside in.
Bring in something organic from outdoors. In coastal areas, perhaps try an unusual shell or rock, or a piece of driftwood. In inland areas, it could be a delicate branch or an abandoned bird’s nest. Or sprout real grass in an attractive container for a lush splash of green.
Artful ideas.
Art makes a home more interesting and personal, especially when you think beyond prints and paintings. Why not frame that romantic love letter your great-grandfather scrawled in fountain pen while courting his bride-to-be? Or the tickets and program from an unforgettable play, or a bold original painting done by your own child or grandchild—who might just be the next Picasso?
Choosing an Interior Designer
Have you ever considered hiring an interior designer? If you feel intimidated or overwhelmed by home design choices—or just can’t seem to get it right—you could undoubtedly benefit from a professional’s help.
“A professional designer can offer a level of quality, creativity and knowledge that most people don’t have,” explains interior designer Dixie Stark. “We have the resources and expertise to save you time, money and headaches.”
When searching for a designer, do your homework. Get recommendations from your Windermere agent or from a friend whose home you admire. Visit a local design center or your favorite home interior store; these businesses can recommend designers and may have portfolios you can study. Visit designers’ websites to look at their project photos and get an idea of their fees.
Dixie Stark advises interviewing a few different designers and being extremely up front about costs. “There is no industry standard for what interior designers charge,” she says. “Some charge per hour and others charge per job—also known as a flat fee. And some charge an hourly rate plus a cost-plus percentage.” (For anything you purchase, they earn a percentage of the purchase price.) Typically, designers do not charge for an initial one-hour consultation, which will usually determine if you’re a good match. “Working within specific parameters is part of a designer’s job,” Stark adds. “So be very direct about your likes and dislikes, your expectations, your budget and your timeline. The more honest you are, the better the working relationship and results will be.”