R5 Five Designs for Our Time



Five Designs For Our Time

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The new year will find homes warmed up with vivid color, exotic touches, and softened-up contemporary design. By Dana Asher



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natural selection

What could be more eco-friendly that the Pirwi Knit Chair ($5,998)? Designed by Emiliano Godoy and handmade in Mexico, the piece is constructed from individual wood plates, which are sewn together with cotton rope. Available online at www.branchhome.com.



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Design icon Milton Glaser, creator of the ‘I [heart] NY’ logo, once said  “to design is to communicate clearly by whatever means you can control or master.” New developments in design communicate plenty about today’s homeowners, including a commitment to the environment and a worldly sophistication. Here are five important trends you’ll see more of in the future.


Eclectic Aesthetic


ECLECTIC DESIGN IS TO THE HOME AS  fusion cuisine is to the palate—a mixture of tastes that, if blended thoughtfully, form something that’s both appealing and one-of-a-kind. Eclectic design, which blends furniture and accessories from different decorating styles to create a unique sensibility, has been the prevailing decorating approach for the past several years and, experts predict, will continue to grow in popularity.

Homeowners continue to move away from contrived interiors with matched sets of furniture and theme rooms (think of the Southwest style of the 1980s) toward spaces that reflect many styles and personalities. Rooms come together piece by piece for a more varied, less by-the-numbers look. Even better, adopting an eclectic style allows you to hold on to the pieces you love, while experimenting with new designs.

But designers warn that packing a room with a variety of furnishings and accessories with little thought isn’t going to culminate in a gorgeous eclectic aesthetic—it’s going to create a hodgepodge of clutter and chaos. Achieving this type of design is a deliberate process. “Eclectic doesn’t mean that anything goes,” says Shelley Morris of Shelley Morris Interior Design in Bedford.


Bright Ideas


BY NOW, WE ALL KNOW THAT LINEN white in every room is, well, boring, and that color—on your walls, on your couch, on your floors—is in. But which colors, exactly, are going to explode in home design?

According to Susan Hayes Hoover, chairwoman of the Color Marketing Group’s (CMG) Consumer Colors Current Committee, the most influential colors for the year 2007 (and beyond) are from both the red and the blue families. CMG’s color forecasters point to all shades of red—and there are many of them, from cool raspberry to warm, coral hues. In the blue family, aqua shades, inspired by spas and ocean hues that bridge blue and green, are gaining popularity. Deep brown continues to reign as the neutral of choice, in wood furniture, flooring, cabinetry, and even appliances. And, perhaps not as dominant, citrus colors such as lime, lemon, and orange will be used to accent the browns so prevalent in today’s design.

Of course, if you’re not eager to paint your dining room fire-engine red and the living room  bright blue, you can use color sparingly, advise design pros.

“Those who find in-your-face shades scary can try using them as accents, such as on a lamp shade, a pillow, or a throw,” says Laurel Bern of Laurel Bern Interiors in Goldens Bridge. She advises clients who want to experiment with color to try it out in one small, less-often-used room or to keep walls and trim white, but paint the ceiling the color du jour.

Not only are certain shades in fashion, but specific combinations are, too. Brown and blue are still found in fabrics and furniture and designers predict that other combinations will include light pink with fuchsia and chocolate brown, and charcoal with taupe, cream, and black.

Those who lean toward neutrals will find that this year’s selection is much richer than ever before. Benjamin Moore’s color experts found that skin color—in all its tones, including golden yellows, taupes, browns, and caramels—are taking the place of tired whites and creams.



eclectic enthusiasm

Interior Designer Shelley Morris of Bedford used a variety of diverse elements—a zebra-print ottoman, a velvet-covered couch, an African-inspired wood stool, and an Asian flower arrangement—for an updated take on room design in this Bedford home.

Global Warming


CALL IT ETHNIC INFLUENCE, CALL IT international chic, but the world has gotten smaller—perhaps the size of your living room. Global-inspired design is everywhere—pillows of African Kuba cloth, drapes of red and gold Asian silks, hand-painted pottery from Vietnam, ottomans covered with leopard-print upholstery, blue-and-white Scandinavian rugs, Moorish-inspired iron railings. It doesn’t matter whether you take an international flight to scout for accessories or discover them at Global Gatherings in Hartsdale, a few select pieces from abroad add sophistication—and interest—to a room.

According to Linda Blair of Blair Interiors Group, Ltd., in Scarsdale, 2007 will see “a continued movement toward ethnic design.” In fact, she says, you can “expect imports from every corner of the world.”

“You may not always be able to take a great vacation, but that doesn’t mean your home can’t become a refreshing destination at the end of each day,” says Sheri Thompson, director of color marketing and design for Sherwin-Williams. She adds that a palette of rich, saturated shades of coral, pear, topaz, green, and warm brown on your walls—hues you might find on a Tuscan hillside, on the Serengeti Plain, or at a Moroccan bazaar—add to the getaway fantasy. Exotic colored fabrics of varied textures and a growing variety of wood options widen the color spectrum even further.

The best strategy for adopting an ethnic style, say designers, is to avoid the Epcot approach to global decorating: that is, using lots of, say, Asian influences in the living room and drawing on the style of another country—India, for instance—in your dining room. The sophisticated way is to subtly include pieces from around the world—the Scandinavian blonde-wood chair, the batik pillow, the Asian rug and pottery—in all rooms to create a home with authenticity and plenty of visual interest.


It’s Easy to Be Green


“Green design”—the use of products that are eco-friendly, energy efficient, and sustainable—is definitely having an impact on designers, furniture manufacturers, homebuilders, and homeowners. Many companies and consumers are interested in helping to save the environment, or at least not further harm it. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Home Design Trends Survey, released in September, 2006, found that in order to address rapidly escalating home-energy costs, homeowners have developed a strong preference for energy-efficient home systems and products: 54 percent of those surveyed wanted energy-efficient systems in their homes, up from 38 percent just a year ago.

“My clients are very interested in using natural, sustainably harvested, or recycled materials such as cork flooring, bamboo shades, recycled brick for the hearth or floor, and barn board,” says Barbara Sternau of Barbara Sternau Interior Design in Tarrytown. “They ask about eco-friendly, non-toxic paint and untreated natural fibers such as sisal, wool, and silk.”

Those items are readily available—and are only the tip of the green iceberg. It doesn’t take too much searching to find furniture made from recycled plastic, organic hemp, or wood manufactured from sustainably harvested trees. Or appliances designed with energy efficiency in mind. Or organic cotton rugs, natural bamboo towels…the list goes on.

The number of sustainable design projects continues to grow quickly in part because of the phenomenal growth of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), an organization comprising design, architectural, and engineering firms; contractors and developers; federal, state, and local government agencies; and professional associations such as the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) and the American Institute of Architects (AIA). With a host of new green products—natural carpets, sustainable wood products, energy-efficient insulation, and people-friendly cleaning supplies—embracing the movement is easier than ever.

But you don’t have to scout out stemware of recycled glass or bed sheets made of birch to embrace a green ethic. Says Lisa Stacholy, chair of the AIA Small Projects Practitioners Committee: “Whether you add insulation, replace single-pane windows, install motorized dampers to close ductwork in unoccupied areas, or employ a fully integrated digital energy controller, there are a host of options available to make homes more energy efficient.”


Modern Viewpoints



modern—or “retro”—furniture heralded the rising interest in contemporary design. Today’s take on modern, while still simple and sleek, is warmed up with woods, inviting wall colors, and a few choice accessories. It’s a movement toward a design aesthetic often labeled transitional or urban contemporary, one that takes the stodginess out of traditional style and the coldness out of contemporary design for an updated look that blends the best of both.


“Classic modern furniture pieces have become collectibles,” says Louise P. Rosenfeld of Arrangements, Inc., an interior-design firm in Chappaqua. “Young families buying and updating classic contemporary homes from the fifties and sixties are good customers. And older people who grew up with mid-century modern pieces want more of it.”


With the growing attention to the environment and sustainable products, current contemporary design uses renewable resources including bamboo, recycled teak, and rattan, eco-friendly materials that have a modern look. Actually, many current design trends play right into today’s contemporary looks: ethnic pieces, such as handmade accessories and crafts, can give a native feel to modern styles, and the popularity of eclectic decorating allows those with more traditional homes and furniture to incorporate contemporary pieces into their repertoire.



East meets rest

Bed linens from Natori’s Double Happiness Collection (approximately $2,000 for sheets, pillows, shams, and coverlet) embrace Asian sensibilities.  Available at Bloomingdale’s in White Plains.




Globe trotter

Even the bathroom is taking a global fair.  Decolav’s retro-style vanity with glass countertop ($2,230) evokes African craftsmanship when done in a zebrawood finish.  Available at EXPO Design center in New Rochelle and Consolidated Plumbing Supply in Mt. Vernon.


Steel yourself

Stainless steel is self-sustaining, with an excellent track record as a material that’s actively recycled on a large scale around the world.  A prime example: this farmhouse sink from Julien Home Refinements’ UrbanEdge Collection ($3,500).  Available at Klaff’s in Norwalk.


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