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An Embarrassment Of Choices – Home Design Trends For 2011

Originally Posted: May 09, 2011

Cindy Lee Bergersen

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Interior design typically changes every 10 years. (iStockphoto.com/Jeff Irving)

Southampton - It's been said that interior design changes its mind about fashion roughly every 10 years. The change however isn't sudden. What was a trickle of a suggestion a few years ago can gradually grow into a flood present day. Still, strong trends bear out because not only are they a very good idea, i.e., the Greening of America, but also because art does imitate life and interior design trends catch fire because they illustrate what's important today in terms of identity and values in broad strokes. These trends speak to us about who we are and how we want to live.

Small Is Beautiful And Green Is Healthy
The green movement is still alive and well as evidenced by a huge showing of small space solutions. There is increasing demand for design geared towards Living Large in Smaller Space. Easier upkeep, that's easier on the environment is the goal. A smaller space to serve you, not one you have to maintain has undeniable appeal.

Did you know that the EPA currently lists indoor air pollution among the top five environmental health concerns? Indoor air is more polluted than outdoor air due to poor ventilation. As the green machine continues to chug along towards greater energy efficiency and durability there is a new focus on better home design features to insure healthier indoor living as well.

Rough Trade And The Luxury Grunge Look
The impetus towards a greener point of view over the past few years spawned a review of our notions about reclaimed and vintage home furnishings and décor. Now the look has gained an identity thanks to the mass marketing of Restoration Hardware and is seen everywhere at every price point. Some call it the Belgian Look. It can also be defined as looking Repurposed From Some Other Century with emphasis on undyed fabric, or at least grayed out from age, exposed bolts and steel supports. Though the look is more factory-made than hand crafted, still it's from a very old factory. Would you like splinters with your rough wood, Sir? In any event, you will still see nail heads, tape trims and dressmaker tailoring on the upholstered goods.

Industrial Americana
Interestingly, the Belgian Look has seemingly moved across the pond to make a home with more of a "God Bless America" feeling to it. One theory is that after 30 years of outsourcing our manufacturing overseas (and subsequently making those jobs obsolete forever) we've been left with a hole not only in our job market but also in our sense of national identity. As a response to this, the "Made In America" label represents the New Chic. In uncertain times, a return to one's roots is the pathway for renewed strength. Thus "American Values and Traditions" whether Mom's apple pie, the perfect pair of broken-in Levi jeans or the design of our homes has great appeal. At auctions, American antique furniture and objects of art have started to sell at record high prices. Whether actually made in America, or of an Americana theme like the stars and stripes, this influence made a very big splash.

Time Travelers
Mad Men have staked their territory at home. There is a definite 1960s vibe using "The Jetsons" as mascots of streamlined, Jet Age Design. Look for big blocks of colors like orange, mustard, teal, and wine reds, boomerang shapes, tapered legs and fringe "benefits" in assorted materials.

Still Like This Century?
While one would be hard-pressed to describe Modern styling as warm and fuzzy, the contemporary take on a modern look is warmer and softer. The shapes are less hard-edged and further civilized with walnut veneers. It's as though contemporary and traditional are beginning to merge into a new hybrid.

Speaking Of Tradition, How About Saville Row?
It would be remiss not to point out that great clothing designers such as Ralph Lauren and Giorgio Armani are making an increasing larger impact in the world of interiors. We love these designers for the way they evoke entire life styles based on a sense of luxury and the well-lived life. Style is an attitude. It's also implied by the use of traditional menswear fabrics all over the furniture. Look for leathers, flannels, tweeds, hound's tooth checks in colors like camel, plum, black and cigar brown. The key words are elegance and permanence, perhaps a gentleman's lounge from a different era. A gray flannel pinstriped chair could be in your future.

Exotica Via Accessories
Calling all world travelers: the booty from your travels will now fit in nicely with your overall home design. Been to India lately? Peacock, elephant and paisley motifs rendered in hot spicy colors rule. With all the tribal/cultural/native/migratory looks on display you will be hard pressed to narrow the field down to just a few stylistic choices. There are African and Moroccan influences, Native American and Western styles. The Russian steps and equestrian themes were represented too. Be awash in bright colors, flame-stitching, intricate patterns, chevrons, beads and shells. By the way, Greek key motifs are back. Here are journeys to be experienced without jet-lag. Try to be moderate.

They Must Have Been Hungary At The Time
The green trend is literal. Fruits and vegetables rendered realistically to the point of precise scientific drawings. Not writ small either: big juicy fruits demanding attention - not mousy little patterns modestly taking up space. The same is true for blooms: big and bold in eye-popping colors. There is a lot of green color served up with the edibles and flora, as if one could possibly have missed the message we all need to remember to go Green.

Is There A Glamazon In The House?
While the over-arching trend is for reclaimed and vintage, European and/or American, there is still room for a little glitz. Shiny, metallic finishes and accents, and glass used in a multitude of ways still spell glamour. Lacquer was nowhere to be seen just a few seasons ago, but now it's back in black - and every other deep strong color you might want. While great home design is often a mix of the lux, the low and the just plain odd, you will be best served with an appetizer size of glitter rather than an "all you can eat" extravaganza; Traditional values being so big right now and all that.

In The Pink
If a color can represent the mood you are in, then Pantone making their yearly pronouncement of the color of the year, is also taking the pulse of the country too. Honeysuckle Pink is the big winner, which by another name might be called salmon, sort of. The nation's mood has apparently lightened up. Even though Pink is thought by some to be the national color of India (read into this what you will), it's hard to think "Serious" when the color itself seems to be calling for Sugar Plum Fairies. Considering, the emotional whiplash caused by the global financial meltdown and consequent instability of the last few years, who could begrudge such a charming symbol of hope, sweetness and light?

Don't Throw Out The Gray Sofa Yet
Despite the riots of colors seen with the International Traveler Drumbeat, the Bountiful Gardens themes or the high gloss of Glamazon Details, bear in mind that these were seen a suggestions for accessories, not a call to toss all, including caution to the winds. The idea is to pick a flavor or two for mixing with the foundations of your design scheme, be it Lux Grunge, Traditional leaning towards Gentleman's Lounge or Soft Modern with a Jetson twist. Therefore, Pantone's Pink would be the accent pop set in a neutral background, not a blip in a raging sea of color. Interiors might be rendered in a range of whites such as cream, eggshell, snow and vanilla but as backdrop for the pops of your choice.

Gray was used everywhere from leather, upholstery, painted wood finishes, as the most sophisticated neutral of choice. This is not a non-descript gray but warmed up with taupe undertones to be on the cutting edge between warm and cool. Gray/brown/purple colorations were seen so frequently, the combination deserves a name of its own.

What's Your Pleasure?
Clearly there are many avenues to pursue to freshen up your home vista. Not unlike yourself, creating home that looks like you is never a done deal. Your preference may fall somewhere between "homiest" home to showstopper statement interior, but to truly be a home you love to live in, the idea is to let it grow and evolve overtime - or at least look that way. This year's style servings offer plenty of avenues to explore in pursuit of fuller expression of the home that says "You."

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VermontStyle says::
Great post, Cindy. You are right... we see the elements of natural/eco-friendly decor and commitment to buy American made goods evolving as the driving factors for our furniture business. Of course style is the first criteria for most people, but styles are copied and cheap knock-offs are available everywhere. In today's world people are looking to add more quality and authenticity to their lives. They are finding that American made goods provide that.
May 10, 2011 10:08 am


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