R5 Furnishing You with Style

Furnishing You

With Style

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Tired of furniture that’s dated before the bill arrives? Check out

these furniture fashions that scored big at High Point. By Abbey Gold


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Maurice Villency’s Thames dining table ($2,245) opens to 102 inches (a folding leaf stored under the tabletop opens via a special extension mechanism), allowing for both intimate dinners and large family gatherings. Available at Maurice Villency in Scarsdale.


How do you avoid a redesign in two years? Look South for furniture trends. Last October, more than 3,000 exhibitors displayed their products at the High Point Market in North Carolina, the furniture capital of the world, forecasting home fashions and showcasing what we will see in our hometown furniture, department, and home-furnishings specialty stores.


“This season’s introductions showed an incredibly vibrant range of colors, styles, and functionality,” says Jackie Hirschhaut, vice president of the American Home Furnishings Alliance. “From classic, traditional styling to more edgy, contemporary collections, there’s something for everyone.”


No doubt, some introductions “will probably vanish like leg warmers in July,” predicts Fred Albert, resident furniture expert at www.about.com. On the other hand, he says, some new designs “were indicative of real changes that are occurring in American households,” such as more entertaining than in past years. If you’re looking for new ideas for your home, there are a few trends that Hirschhaut and other experts predict will have real staying power:


Make Yourself Comfortable. Homeowners want furniture that’s flexible, easy, and comfy. John Elmo of the Yonkers-based Elmo Design Group notes that today’s couches often are built a little deeper so people can easily sink in and relax.


Recliners, once the bane of the cultured consumer, are becoming popular once again. No longer the puffy seat that sacrificed style for comfort, recliners today enhance a room’s design rather than detract from it. (American Leather’s line of sleek, contemporary chairs surprise those who find they can recline in them.) If leaning back isn’t enough, massage seats with iPod hook-ups are also hot on the market. Consider the Fujitronic Mind-Relaxing Spa Massage Lounger or the Hawaiian Massage Chair, meant to provide peace of mind while you read, relax, or watch your flat-screen TV.


Homeowners want fabrics they know will hold up to real-life activities, whether that’s the dog racing in from outside or a cocktail party around the fire. Leather upholstery has long been the darling of families wanting durability, and the selection of frame styles continues to grow, Hirschhaut notes. And microsuede, still considered the most  popular high-performance fabric in the marketplace, offers high fashion and lasting sturdiness in a rainbow of color hues.


With the trend toward casual living in full swing, formal dining tables are becoming less popular, replaced with new dining options, such as tables teamed with banquettes and larger dining tables paired with stools (much like the island counters to which we’ve all become so accustomed). Paul Kelly, owner of Greenwich Furniture, with Westchester showrooms in Mamaroneck and Mount Kisco, says we should expect to see a move toward more relaxed dining sets, in particular “big gathering tables” and 54-inch square pub-height (or counter-height) tables as we head into ’08.


recline: an invitation

American Leather’s Zac Recliner in white bison leather ($3,285) offers a way to get comfortable without sacrificing style. Available at Jensen-Lewis in New York City and Connecticut Design Center in Norwalk.






Move to Modern. Once downright cold, modern pieces are today warmed up with wood in rich colors (you’ll find more wenge than blonde maple) with the occasional traditional element to give a surprise twist. Often, the palette is natural and includes textures such as suede, rattan, leather, and microsuede, accessorized with strong shades such as rust, cinnamon, and eggplant.

Lucille Lichtenberg of Lichtenberg Interior Design in Pelham Manor points to the new modern as “transitional,” a widely used term for design that blends traditional and contemporary furniture, finishes, and materials for a classic, but updated design. Modern pieces are less ornate, with simpler lines, and encompass more than steel and shiny surfaces (although lacquer is back, seen in everything from dining sideboards to kitchen cabinets). More often, it is defined by clean lines, little ornamentation, and streamlined hardware. With eclectic as the current design buzzword, homeowners now have license to mix and match modern pieces with those they already have and love for an updated look.


While manufacturers are reinterpreting modern furniture for the 21st century, Gudrun Gallob, the studio proprietor of Greenwich-based Design Within Reach, says that many clients still come looking for the retro pieces that ruled the contemporary furniture market in the mid-1900s. “Our clients are becoming more aware of the designers who are in the Museum of Modern Art,” Gallob says, referring to architects-cum-furniture designers such as George Nelson, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Frank Gehry. “They want pieces that look like art.”

Mix It Up. Furniture was all mixed up in the fall Market, with pieces fusing a variety of materials, such as leather with metal and fabric prints with wood. In addition to the popular pairing of leather and fabrics in upholstered seating, unique combinations of multiple fabric patterns on a single frame have created a new category, dubbed “collage.”


“Eclectic decorating is one of the most popular ways that consumers are furnishing their homes today, and mixed-medium pieces often add an attractive flair to the setting,” Hirschhaut says.



east meets rest

Inspired by 18th-century Chinese Chippendale designs, this armchair by Graystone ($2,416) has geometric fretwork in its back and arm panels and an upholstered seat trimmed with nailheads. Availbale at the Graystone Showroom in the D&D Building in New York City.


Go Global. Ethnic-inspired furnishings and exotic materials are the foundation of global design, which is all the rage today. Whether the acquisition involved a passport or not, homeowners want pieces that look as if they were picked up on African safari, a summer in Portugal, or a vacation to the Far East. Expect to see furniture with intricate wood detailing such as scrollwork and cutouts, and hand-woven textiles, such as silks and chenilles.


Examples were abundant at the fall Market. Hooker Furniture showed a distinctive Asian influence; its Asian chest, for example, has vibrant decoration, such as antique gold painting. The nearby Basque region of Spain, the ancestral home of Hispanic media personality Cristina Saralegui, gave rise to the “Casa Cristina Cantabria Collection” of bedroom and dining-room furniture by Pulaski. Heavy wood frames and moldings, intricate wrought iron, decorative nail-head patterns and trims, plus custom-designed hinges, echoed architectural details of the region.

Roche-Bobois named an entire collection—its Les Voyages Collection—after the far-flung destinations that inspired the pieces. The company markets the collection as “motionless travel,” giving lines exotic names such as Nairobi, Route de The, Sichuan, Median, and the Japanese-influenced Mikado.


Even Martha Stewart has gone global. Although her Katonah Collection by Bernhardt draws on classic American style, Stewart herself noted that many of the pieces bear an Asian influence, such as lacquered surfaces, 22-karat gold-plated or silver-plated hardware, and hand-painted accents.



in the mix

Palecek’s high-back tub swivel chair from the Metro Collection ($1,102) is reminiscent of 1960s designs with its chrome stand and swivel seat. However, its fusion of materials—upholstered seat and dark abaca rope body—is a decidedly 2007 twist. Available to the trade only.



Made in the USA. A growing interest in American-style craftsman pieces is mirroring the popularity of global-inspired furniture. While Mission designs are distinctly American, the style has both contemporary and Japanese leanings, making it work with the modern and ethnic looks so popular right now.


At the fall Market, scores of companies introduced their versions of Americana-inspired furniture, from Copeland Furniture, which debuted its Frank Lloyd Wright Furniture Collection, to Stickley’s expanded Pasadena Bungalow Collection, inspired by the works of Charles & Henry Greene, influential architects who pioneered the Arts & Crafts Movement.



china cabinet

The Kingsland Chinoiserie Secretary by Martha Stewart Signature Furniture by Bernhardt ($3,150) adopts Asian details with its scarlet exterior and handpainted gold blossoms. Available at Safavieh Rug & Home in Scarsdale and Hartsdale.


Field Green. As consumers with green (i.e., eco-friendly) interests know, conventional furniture-making is an environmental disaster: couches and chairs are made from unsustainably harvested wood, formaldehyde and varnish treatments can pollute indoor air, and upholstery is stained with chlorine-based dyes.


As environmental issues gain a greater presence in the 21st century, manufacturers are hopping on the eco-friendly bandwagon, using recycled and sustainable sources. You’ll find furniture of cork, bamboo, reeds, and stainless steel, with textiles of organic cotton, linen, and wood felt (and even natural sponge!). Organic styles show the influence of nature in both shape and color, particularly in natural hues such as paprika, brown, and orange.


A writer for a variety of national magazines, Abbey Gold is determined to explore her wild side with a leopard-print area rug.

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