When it comes to home fashion trends, comfort and pretty details rule in 2017. Gather ideas for how you can spruce up your home.
Whether you’re furnishing a living space, updating your kitchen or replacing flooring, you’ll be right on trend if you think “pretty but practical and comfortable” this year. If you’re tempted by something that’s fussy, formal or hard to clean, you may want to think twice.
Comfort with Charm
“Comfort is huge,” says Trina Gustafson, co-owner of Gustafson Furniture & Mattress, with locations on East State Street and West Riverside Boulevard in Rockford. People want a comfortable cocoon for escaping the stress outside their front doors, and if that means buying adjustable beds, recliners and sofas, they do it. But they also want everything to look nice. Today’s designers do an admirable job of making sure comfort and style co-exist peacefully.
“A rustic, or country look is very big, but it’s not the dark rustic of yesterday,” says Gustafson. “If you think about the ways Joanna Gaines does country chic on the TV show ‘Fixer Upper,’ it’s airy and has a lot of interesting detail. Her Magnolia Home furniture lines are inspired by primitive, industrial, French, traditional, Bo Ho and farmhouse influences. You see some of the same influences across many brands and designers aren’t shy about combining very different styles.”
Ultra-comfortable contemporary furniture is often embellished with details that conjure a far-away time or place. It’s pretty – and practical – but not pretentious. Walk through one of the Gustafson’s showrooms and you’ll spy a handsome Kincaid end table with a flip-up lid that conceals a storage nook with a charging station that hides your lamp cords and other wires. Nearby are reclining sofas with fold-down consoles containing lighted USB ports and cup holders. They not only have automatic leg rests and backs that adjust to any position you wish, but also motion-control headrests.
“People love motion furniture because of the comfort it affords,” says Gustafson. “You don’t have to adjust to its shape; it adjusts to yours. There’s a real advantage to supporting your spine in just the position you want it to be in, while you’re watching TV, for example.”
Some pieces, like the sleek black adjustable sofa by Flexsteel that Gustafson calls her “Star Wars sofa,” even offer built-in lighted controls.
There was a time when homes had “comfortable furniture” that was relegated to the family room and more formal furniture in other living spaces. No more. Today’s homeowners don’t think twice about pairing a casual leather sofa with an elegant TV console table trimmed in a little bling. The sofa may have a “look at me!” attitude, with oversized nail-head trim, for example, or may sit quietly, while other objects in the room take the spotlight. Trends change, but this classic advice holds true: Pick your focal points and don’t let too many items compete with one another.
“There’s a lot of glitz to be found on showroom floors right now, whether gold or silver, in accessories, lamps and furniture details,” says Gustafson. Think mullions on glass doors, metallic stripes on wood inlays, gilt sunburst mirrors, ornate metal drawer pulls. Such details are a lot of fun in small doses.
Many nature-inspired items are trending, too, like bits of leather or jute trim, animal-inspired textures and botanical tabletop arrangements.
When it comes to wall colors, earthy greens and dusky blues are new favorites for 2017. “Greenery” is the Pantone Color of the Year, “a refreshing and revitalizing shade symbolic of new beginnings.” It leans more yellow-green than blue-green, and is fresh: think about those first woodland shoots in springtime. It’s nature’s neutral color, says Pantone.
“We’re seeing a lot of blue in textiles,” says Gustafson. “A lot of navy blues but also aqua and other blues.”
Gray remains the favorite neutral for most people, and it’s warming up. Think fawn gray rather than steel gray.
One way that furniture makers are warming up grays is by mixing gray-stained wood with more traditional brown stains in the same piece.
Among brands doing this beautifully is Bernhardt, in its living room, dining room and bedroom collections. A fawn gray wood tone dominates a dresser with mirrored faces embellished with metal designs. Bernhardt also offers a little glitz and reflection in pieces like the European-inspired Marquesa curio display cabinet, finished in gray cashmere with lightly seeded glass fronts and arching metal grilles.
“I love how the rustic and elegant come together, with such fun embellishments and little pops of glam,” says Gustafson. “I also like the way natural wood tones are sometimes mixed with weathered grays on the same piece.”
Pretty, practical and comfortable are no less important in the bedroom. Adjustable mattresses have never been more popular, among buyers of all ages. Dress them up with luxurious upholstered headboards, a curvy metal farmhouse canopy or sleigh-shaped wooden head and foot boards; find deep drawers under the bed to maximize your storage space.
The Calm Kitchen
The kitchen is the heart of the home and the most important room to upgrade for improved resale value. Newer kitchen trends echo those found in other living spaces of the home: texture is in; busy and bright are out. Calm rules the day. Easy maintenance is a must, but beautiful details matter, too. And there’s an interesting mix of rustic elegance afoot.
“We see more emphasis on texture contrast than color contrast right now,” says Erin Meyers-Knabe, kitchen and bathroom design consultant at Benson Stone Co., 1100 11th St., Rockford. As an example, she points to a showroom model kitchen with white cabinets and soft gray-blue walls. The large, marble-topped island has subtle gray vein movement but isn’t overly busy; it beckons you to sit and chat with the cook. Overhead, a glass chandelier sparkles. Underfoot is a dark wood floor with a rustic finish. Other countertops in the room are solid gray quartz. A gorgeous laser-cut marble tile backsplash climbs the wall to the ceiling, framing the stove hood. Ribbons of gray-blue in this tile offer subtle interest.
“A white kitchen can feel too stark if you don’t have texture and some movement,” explains Knabe. Classic white-painted cabinets are always in style, but she describes today’s white as “creamier, not stark.”
Medium-brown wood tone cabinets are on trend. Favorite species include maple and cherry, but not oak.
“Neutral brown and gray stains are in, but not reddish browns,” she says. “Cherry wood doesn’t have to be stained red. Very dark cabinets aren’t out of date, but they’re losing ground. Gray is still very popular, but is moving toward a warmer shade, closer to a taupe.”
Mixing wood stain and paint colors is still a good idea, such as using a navy blue painted island in a white kitchen. Likewise, a maple wood cabinet may complement gray-stained cabinetry nicely. In general, today’s designers strive to break up monolithic cabinetry in favor of a more furniture-like look.
Embellishments to create a focal point may include a decorative stove hood or lighted glass-front cabinets with mullioned or wavy glass.
“You need clear focal points, but not too many of them,” notes Knabe. “If you try to do too much, things get too busy and kitchen functionality also suffers.”
Today’s cabinets have plenty of optional gizmos to make organization easier, along with standard roll-out shelves, wastebaskets, recycling bins and spice racks.
Soffits went the way of the dinosaur long ago, but as ceilings heights grow, so does the question of what to do with all that extra space.
“Nine-foot ceilings or higher are common in new homes and even in remodeled kitchens,” says Knabe. “For a 10-foot ceiling, you really need to stagger the cabinet heights or it looks squatty and defeats the purpose of having tall ceilings. Cabinets should be designed to fit the room.”
Granite and quartz remain top-selling countertops at Benson Stone Co. Granite is a natural stone and quartz is a man-made composite.
“The variety of color and texture and the beauty of these materials is hard to beat,” says Knabe. “New sealers have made granite very easy to maintain. As long as it’s a high-quality piece of stone from a high-quality installer, granite is a great choice.”
Hardware tones are warming up, too. Gold and brass finishes are reappearing, as is brushed pewter, which is warmer than brushed nickel.
The same general trends – more texture with less color contrast, rustic elegance and easier maintenance – are also evident in today’s bathrooms.
“We’re seeing a lot of walk-in showers that don’t require glass doors. Often the same floor tile goes right into the shower,” says Knabe. “No one likes to clean glass shower doors or huge mirrored walls.”
Bathtubs are less common today, but folks who want them are choosing stand-alone models, not enormous built-in hot tubs.
“We see a lot of retirees preparing for their golden years and making bathrooms more ADA-compliant,” Knabe says.
A good lighting plan is enormously important in both kitchens and bathrooms.
“No matter how carefully you design a room, if you don’t light it properly, it won’t look the way it should,” says Knabe. “It can make or break any project.”
To maintain a home’s optimal value, designers recommend updating the kitchen at least every 10 years.
“We try to do things in ways that make the room as timeless as possible,” says Knabe. “When people get tired of the look, there are often ways to change things up without a major overhaul.”
When it comes to flooring used in kitchens and bathrooms, most of Knabe’s customers are choosing solid or engineered wood, or wood-look tile or luxury vinyl tile (LVT), often in gray or dark tones.
“The flooring plays an important role in setting the mood,” she says.
Indeed, there’s no shortage of stylish, durable flooring options, says Bruce Swanson, owner of Swanson Floor Coverings, 4400 Maray Drive, Rockford.
Wood, carpet, tile and new luxury vinyl tiles or planks (LVT) each have unique advantages.
“People love the wood look, whether it’s real wood or another material made to look like wood,” says Swanson. He sells a lot of ¾-inch solid oak hardwood, but also engineered wood and wood-look LVT, especially for basements and bathrooms, where moisture is likely to warp solid wood.
“Wood stained in shades of gray is popular, as are very dark stains,” says Swanson. “And distressed wood, the hand-scraped look, is what people want most often. This casual look is much easier to live with than a smooth finish because it disguises the dings that can come with everyday use.”
Wood planks in much wider widths are favored today, too.
“Oak and maple remain favorite wood floor species,” says Swanson. “In addition to their beauty, wood floors are easy to maintain. Just damp mop and clean up spills. People who work too hard at cleaning wood floors may do more harm than good. Sweep it, keep dirt from grinding into it, but otherwise leave it alone except to wipe up spills and spots. Dust mop. And don’t buy those contraptions they sell on late-night infomercials that burn, discolor and warp flooring, whether it’s vinyl or wood. I’ve seen vinyl turned purple and wood floors steamed until they buckle. Less is more, when it comes to cleaning a floor.”
As much as we all love the look of wood, many of us still prefer the feeling of carpet under our feet in certain rooms. While carpet no longer holds the prominent market position it once did, Swanson still sells a lot of it.
“Today’s carpet fibers are very soft to the touch and very durable,” he says. Subtle patterns have returned to carpet, mostly in geometric and modular forms.
“I’m surprised at how much of the patterned carpet I’m selling,” he says. “It’s often people working with professional designers who buy it.”
Two-tone Saxony carpets are attractive and practical, says Swanson, since they camouflage wear and provide a plush feel.
“Today’s carpets are so durable, they rarely ever wear out,” says Swanson. “But they do ‘ugly out’ after many years. The U.S. carpet industry is constantly coming up with features like the moisture-proof backing, which prevents pet urine and other fluids from soaking into the padding and subfloor.”
Swanson is a big fan new LVT flooring, a man-made product that looks remarkably like wood or natural stone.
“There are newer products that are like a cross between LVT and laminate,” he explains. “They’re 100 percent waterproof and very good-looking. These newer planks and tiles are thicker, more rigid – better at hiding bumps in the floor surface than their more flexible predecessors. This makes the installation a more forgiving process.”
Wider, rectangular LVT planks and tiles are more up-to-date than narrow or square ones.
“LVT can look like tile or wood but it’s warmer, easier on the back – like when you’re standing in the kitchen working for a long period of time – and it’s softer, less expensive, easier to install and the grout lines look better than they do with real ceramic tile.”
“Beautiful and stylish flooring that’s durable and low-maintenance is where it’s at,” says Swanson. “Flooring manufacturers put a remarkable amount of thought into these products and they just keep getting better.”
If you feel your home is due for some upgrades but you’re not sure where to start or what to buy, take advantage of the design experts at stores like Gustafson’s, Benson Stone and Swanson Flooring. They’ll help you to make good decisions that not only enhance the beauty and comfort of your home, but also make it easier to maintain and enjoy.