Today’s home fashion trends place a major emphasis on your comfort and quality. Here are some ideas you can use to add a modern touch to your home.
It’s an interesting time in the world of home fashion. Telling your own story is more important than “achieving” a look. Extreme styles are out and mixed materials are in. Comfort is all-important and quality matters more than it has in a long time.
“There are no rules right now,” says interior designer Jaimie Baloun, Benson Stone Co., 1100 11th St., Rockford. “The only rule is to be sure it fits your own personality and feels warm and comfortable to you. It’s a look of surrounding yourself only with things you really love, things you’ve carefully collected through the years. It’s not about labels or trends. It’s about what has meaning and makes you feel good.”
She’s glad to see the movement away from extremes.
“Too much of anything is not good, right?” she says. “For example, the industrial look was huge, and it’s still fun. But now it’s used more as an accent than an entire room theme. Every single light fixture does not have to be an Edison bulb.”
Newer furniture lines feature mixed materials and allow for individual preferences. A black-painted dresser may have a driftwood grey top; a weathered wood bedframe or dining room buffet may be accented with a humble natural fiber or some chunky industrial hardware; and a sleek, glass-top urban dining set may be paired with both folksy fabric and weathered wooden chairs.
Today’s cocktail and end tables look like something your grandpa may have fashioned out of metal and wood or glass. In fact, the artisan’s sensibility is everywhere present in today’s showrooms. You’ll also see a trend for “bunching tables,” meaning two smaller tables you can put together as a cocktail table or use separately, as well as stacked tables.
“Ultimately, everything comes down to comfort,” says Jackie Finnander, design consultant at Gustafson’s Furniture & Mattress, 6651 E. State St., Rockford. “It’s not about buying things just to look at them. We want spaces where we can make memories with our loved ones, not rooms we have to wrap up in plastic to protect.”
Comfort and pragmatism go hand in hand, she says.
“We’re noticing a lot of people looking for power reclining furniture with power head rest and lumbar support,” says Finnander. “We’re seeing more end tables and chair-side tables with hidden outlets and USB ports in them to make life easier. No more having to charge your electronics on the other side of the room. Just lift the back of your end table up or open the drawer, plug in and relax.”
How We Live
Both sectionals and traditional groupings of sofas, love seats and chairs have a place in today’s American home.
Traditional groupings are best if you like to change around the configuration of your room.
“They give you more options when it’s time to put up a Christmas tree or when you need to make space in a room so you can take pictures before a school dance,” says Finnander.
But people also love their comfy and attractive sectionals, especially now that there are so many ways to customize them.
“People can get the exact shape they need to fit their family best, with options for a chaise lounge, a cuddler, or even reclining seats, without having to give up the styles they love,” says Finnander.
Thanks to a movement away from strictly matched furniture, Baloun sees many buyers choosing just one piece from a grouping, or purchasing two sofas rather than a sofa and loveseat.
“Sofas don’t cost much more than loveseats and give you seating for another person,” she says. She likes to incorporate both leather and fabric into a living space, such as two fabric chairs with a leather sofa or a fabric sofa with a few leather chairs.
Customization doesn’t end in the living room. It’s a hot trend in every room of the house, says Baloun.
“People want a one-of-a-kind look that no one else will have, and they can get it these days in every room. You can pick the kind of arm you want, the type of leather or fabric, the depth, the wood finish, the shape of legs and feet and hardware and so forth.”
It’s important to remember that the largest of furniture showrooms display only a fraction of what can be ordered.
“There’s so much more available than you can see,” says Baloun.
A Demand for Quality
Just as furniture styles evolve, customers do, too. Today’s shopper is well informed, thanks to the internet, and is increasingly concerned about quality.
“More people are understanding that you get what you pay for,” says Finnander. “We don’t have time to constantly be on the lookout for replacement furniture, in our fast-paced society. So people are starting to spend more for the quality piece they can depend on, rather than just getting the look for cheap.”
“People don’t want to buy something that will break down in two years,” says Baloun. “We don’t even carry brands like that at Benson Stone. And people are asking better questions these days, taking more care before buying. I just helped a couple in their 30s to choose a top-of-line Hancock & Moore leather sectional that will sit as well decades from now as it does today. By taking time to ask good questions, they ended up with a piece of furniture and a type of leather that will age well along with them.”
Colors and Patterns
As with everything else, choosing colors for paint or fabrics should be more about what you like than what is trendy. Even so, there are some changes worth noting.
Icy greys are finally on the downslope and warmer greys, taupes and tans are moving in.
“Everyone in our area went crazy for grey this past year!” says Finnander. “We’re still seeing a lot of greys and grey-beige tones, but browns will be back eventually.”
Greys have turned up in everything from wall paint, fabric and hard-surface flooring to painted kitchen cabinets and case good materials resembling driftwood.
Baloun is glad to see grey warming up.
“Grey is a really cold color and has to be done right,” she says. “Charcoal greys are warmer and the move toward tans and khakis is good.”
Greys, taupes and tans clearly dominate the “men’s wear” upholstery trend.
“The men’s wear look for furniture fabrics is huge, in lots of different textures,” explains Baloun. “Nubby tweeds or soft flannels are seen in patterns like herringbone, houndstooth, plaid and Argyle, in neutral browns, tans, greys and silvers.”
Declining in popularity are bold geometrics, script and Boho designs like ikat or lattice.
“If you still like them, that’s fine,” says Baloun. “But maybe confine them to an accent pillow rather than committing to them in a large upholstered piece.”
Florals are making a fashion comeback, especially in abstract forms and muted colors.
In another nod toward pragmatism, durable, easy-care fabrics are holding their place alongside leather.
“We’re seeing a lot of fabrics made with polypropylene, a very durable man-made fiber,” says Finnander. “Right now there’s a tweed look that’s popular. The texture and color variance allows people to be more free when changing up their rooms. It’s a timeless, transitional trend.”
Each year, the Pantone Color Institute chooses a color it considers to be a good fit with the current public mood. It shows up on fashion runways and in home accessories.
This year’s color is Living Coral, a reaction to the isolation and digital overload many people feel today.
“With consumers craving human interaction and social connection, the humanizing and heartening qualities displayed by the convivial Pantone Living Coral hit a responsive chord,” says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute in New York City.
Find it in round pintuck or fringed velvet pillows, pottery, tablecloths, bedding and other accessories. It’s a punchy and attractive counterpoint to cool palettes of blues, greens and, of course, icy greys.
In the Bedroom
Interesting things are happening in the bedroom – in terms of fashion.
“Everyone wants to have a bedroom that both expresses their personality and relaxes them,” says Finnander. Bedroom furniture groupings remain popular because “The best way to do that is to have everything the same,” she says.
Upholstered, wood and metal headboards all enjoy a following and the mixed-materials trend applies, too.
“We’re seeing fewer fully upholstered headboard styles and more wood coming back into our bedrooms,” says Finnander. “People have been gravitating toward headboards that give them the wood frame with an upholstered middle to rest against. It’s a way for the masculinity of a solid wood headboard to meet and combine with the femininity of a fully upholstered princess headboard.”
Baloun sees a shift away from perfectly matched bedroom groupings. In fact, many people simply don’t use dressers at all, any more, if they have the option to store all clothing in large closets, she says.
“We’re more likely to see people buy one piece from a bedroom grouping,” she says. “Things that offer concealed storage are popular, like built-in, under-bed drawers and night stands with storage.”
Baloun’s customers may choose mixed-material sleigh beds with contrasting accents or hand-finished metal bedframes, sometimes with artisan details like punched tin, hammered metal or even a metal shiplap look. When designing a bedroom, Baloun shuns matchy-matchy bed-in-a-bag sets, opting instead for layers of luxurious contrasting fabrics and textures.
Less is More
If there’s one thing on peoples’ minds right now, it’s simplifying our lives. The popularity of Marie Kondo’s “Tidying Up” Netflix series and other de-cluttering movements is evident.
“We aren’t buying hutches to display our fine china anymore – we’re tucking dishes away out of sight,” says Baloun.
Another clue to our collective psyche is the resurgence of mid-century modern furniture, which answers our longing for more orderly, clean-lined, fuss-free living.
“Less is more!” says Finnander. “We’re seeing people step away from all the clutter that we’ve become so great at displaying in our homes and really go for a minimalist look. I don’t mean that people aren’t decorating with accessories at all, but they’re just using a lot less.”
Limiting what we display and giving more thought to how we display it are key.
For example, “Family pictures may be displayed on sleek floating shelves instead of being scattered on tables,” says Finnander. “People are changing up their spaces and not putting so much out on tables, bookshelves and in curios.”
How to Start
Often the most difficult part of updating a room is getting started. The first step may be some honest introspection. What do you really love? How do you really live?
“I can put a beautiful room together, but if an individual is not comfortable in it, it’s not going to be right,” says Baloun.
Those who have a hard time identifying what they love can choose a favorite item as a starting point, she suggests. It might be a piece of artwork, a beloved textile or a photo of a favorite place.
“If they have nothing at home that they love, we take them to the rows of fabric swatches in the store and ask them to pick one they really like,” she says.
Baloun urges clients to consider the architectural style of their particular spaces, too.
“You may love shiplap, for example, but it isn’t a good fit in every single home,” she says.
Sometimes people put off purchasing custom furniture because they’re afraid they’ll make a mistake and be stuck with something they don’t like.
“It’s true that, once you order a custom piece, it’s yours for keeps,” says Baloun. “But that’s why we’re here to help you. We know you don’t do this every day like we do. We can help you figure out how to end up with a space you truly love.”