What styles and colours will we be seeing in furniture showrooms – and, ultimately, homes – in the months ahead?
For professional insights we turned to design gurus Kathy Basil, manager/buyer for Hirshfield’s Design Resource, and Nancy Woodhouse, senior designer, Gabbert’s Design Studio. Here they share what they’re seeing at shows, what they like, and offer a few tips on incorporating new looks into existing decor.
Lilac was in full bloom, according to Basil.
“I saw a lot of it in upholstery,” she says. “One pillow showroom had a whole section devoted to lavender and mauve-y colours. It felt fresh and pretty.”
Is this a flashback to the mauve that dominated colour palettes during the 1980s?
“It’s not as one-dimensional as that,” says Basil. “That mauve was depressing. This is a little more elegant, a little more blue. It almost rides on being a neutral.”
On furniture, Basil saw lilac paired with rich dark wood finishes, clear acrylic and white – but not with medium-toned wood, she says. “It wouldn’t look good.”
Purples are popular, Woodhouse agrees, but they aren’t the only colour story. She also noticed a lot of Chinese red (a bright shade with a hint of orange), deep blues inspired by peacock feathers, punches of chrome yellow and that other ’80s favourite: grey.
“Grey has become the new neutral, replacing beige tones,” she says. Today’s greys are warm (almost taupe), which makes them easier to incorporate into decor than cooler shades of grey, she says. “It’s more user-friendly.”
Although grey’s rise has been building for several seasons, it shows no signs of waning. “Grey is here to stay for a long time,” Woodhouse says.
The Mad Men influence continues, with many furniture styles that evoke the swinging ’60s. Prints are big and bold, especially on chairs, where “statement fabrics” are the look du jour. Think big butterflies, oversized florals and Asian-inspired dragons – just a few of the examples Woodhouse spotted.
“Prints are blown up to a bigger scale,” she says. Other ’60s influences include bold geometric patterns, in both upholstery and wall coverings, cut-velvet fabrics, modular furniture and Lucite.
“Lucite’s making a big comeback,” says Woodhouse, adding that it’s being combined with traditional elements, such as a Lucite coffee table paired with a classic wing chair, and animal-print upholstery with Lucite legs. Other retro furniture details include tufting, channel-quilting, contrast cording, buttons and nailheads.
METAL OF THE MOMENT
All that glitters is now gold. “Gold was everywhere,” Basil says. “We heard a couple of markets ago that gold was coming back, but this market, boom!”
Gold dominates light fixtures and furniture hardware, in both shiny and brushed finishes, overtaking pewter and brushed nickel. One of Basil’s favourite pieces was a decorative seashell with a natural heavily textured exterior and a shiny gold-leaf interior: “That juxtaposition of rough organic with gold is just beautiful.”
Gold also re-entered the palette for fabrics, in a golden camel hue. “It’s a way to keep your grey and add a new twist, warming it up and adding another dimension,” Basil says.
Painted finishes, from formal to casual, are having a big impact on furniture, Woodhouse says. She saw everything from white-washed, grey-washed and metallic finishes, to painted special effects, such as harlequin patterns, flowers and even lace.
Customisation options are increasing, making it possible to take a traditional piece, such as a bombe chest, and give it a fresh, fun hue of your choosing – even to match a favourite paint colour.
“More and more (furniture) companies have that capability.”
Moroccan-inspired patterns have been appearing on fabrics, rugs and wall coverings for several seasons, Basil said, but now the signature pointed arch shape of Moorish architecture is making its way into furniture pieces, such as upholstered headboards.
“That’s an investment,” she says – which indicates Moroccan style will be around for a while.
Rugged rope was a busy multitasker at market, according to Basil.
“We saw it all over the place. I saw a lot of showrooms where they hung (light) fixtures with thick rope. That’s something new.”
She also noticed a rope ship’s ladder hung in a showroom, its wooden treads repurposed as shelving.
“It’s almost a ’70s feeling of macrame,” she says. “But you have to be careful with rope. Skinny and tiny looks cheap, while thick and heavy looks good.”
RUNWAY TO LIVING ROOM
Woodhouse was struck by how quickly fashion trends are moving from the runway into home decor. “It used to be that home fashion followed apparel, and it used to take about a year,” she says. “Now it’s just a couple of months.”
One example is bright chrome yellow as an accent colour. “It just came into stores in fashion, now we’re seeing walls painted that colour, and big pieces done in that colour.”
That’s good news for those who like to stay on top of trends. “There’s more instant gratification,” she says.
What are your trend forecasts for interior design? Let us know your picks and predictions!