Trends from High Point

- Saturday, May 01, 2010

“This furniture is kind of tired and stale. Give us something new and fresh,” was my client’s directive a few weeks ago. We had just been touring her Sea Pines home, which is currently undergoing renovation, and were discussing the areas of the décor that needed attention. She and her husband purchased the property a few years ago to use as a weekend and summer vacation house away from their busy lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. They had already tackled the installation of a new kitchen and updated bathrooms and were now seeking some help with the furnishings and accessories.

“This has got to go,” she said, pointing to a matching sofa and loveseat set, upholstered in a drab green chenille upholstery with the stereotypical palm tree-motif pillows lined-up across the back cushions. “We may put the house on the rental market but do not want it to feel like a villa inside. Please, no more palm trees!”

"How about some lighthouses?” I jokingly prodded.

“No. And no sea shells or pastels either.” She quipped. “A coastal vibe is fine, but nothing too literal, we do not want to feel like we are in a theme park. What are the new trends?”

Funny she should ask, as I had just returned from the Spring 2010 High Point Market, the world’s largest furniture industry trade show. Twice a year manufacturers, retailers and designers converge in one place to showcase the latest offerings in the interior design field in what is best described as fashion week for the furniture world. My mind was full of ideas and inspirations from visiting the showrooms and booths of vendors from across the globe. I had made note of several trends emerging in the industry.

Take color, for instance. Of course, color is always present at the show, with certain hues dominating the spectrum. And, as I have mentioned before, colors in interior design are actually one year behind the fashion world, so they eventually trickle down to fabrics and accessories. The neutrals are still popular, due in part to our growing interest as a society of “going green” and embracing all things eco-friendly. However, This season I noticed a stronger showing of warmer tones like yellows, oranges, and purples. These punches of vibrancy can help pump up a quiet palette of beiges and tans. Used judiciously, say as throw pillows on an ivory colored sofa, they add punch and interest. I also cannot help but think that these strong, rich tones are showing up in part for our desire to have a bit of indulgence in these leaner times.

Another trend I noticed was a masculine theme, most evident in the “Esquire Home Collection” which debuted at the show. Manufactured by Halo, distributed by Four Hands, with lighting and accessories by Go Home and rugs by Asia Minor, this vast and diverse collection of goods embodies the mantra of “man at his best” that the bespoke magazine touts. Think: sophisticated, well-read, tailored, confident. Tufted sofas in distressed leather, modern chrome-armed lounge chairs with menswear-inspired fabrics, and cowhide writing desks were showcased against a backdrop of navy and charcoal walls that were effortless and welcoming, studied, but relaxed.

So, what do I have in mind for my new Sea Pines client? Well, I have already bought a big area rug to anchor the furniture arrangement in the greatroom. It has an unusual palette of a gray-green field with a navy border with a vaguely-tropical pattern of amber and coral. I am thinking of using upholstery for the seating in a mingled wheat and gold linen-weave that will be user-friendly for her three small boys as well as for potential renters. A contrast welt in a dark brown color will add detail and interest. Pillows in stripes of coral and amber will add some punch. Some woven rattan accents on the coffee table will lend a coastal feel and keep it from being too heavy or mannish. The end result will be fresh and new with nary a palm-tree in sight.

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