R5 On the Trend

On the Trend

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How can you figure out what trends work for you? Design guru Chris Madden thinks you should come to your senses.


The new year inspires us home devotees to reflect on where we’ve been and where we’re headed. In past years, I’ve waxed ecstatic about faux zebra, concrete countertops, and pink, orange, or brown as the new black.

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I hope that in 2007 we’ll still see touches of faux zebra and perhaps a bit of orange. But this season, of course, there will be new styles to assess. I’d like to inspire you to take a look at the latest trends and consider bringing some of them into your own home. The trick is to imbue them with your own distinctive style.


I believe we should strive to surround ourselves with a sense of sanctuary and celebration by making our homes resonate with personality and history. As my good friend, the late great designer Mark Hampton, wrote, “In an era when there is increasing despair over the inhumanity of the world around us, the concerns of decorating rather than seeming vain and irrelevant, provide for me a wonderful refuge… At least our private world can reward us with peace and pleasure.”


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In my own home, my style goes well beyond trends, but I always like to layer in some of the season’s latest looks to keep rooms looking fresh. Our houses should not only look appealing, smell good, and invite intimate touch but should be filled with sound that’s music to our ears and treats of great taste. One of my favorite ways to bring the newest trends of the season (for that’s usually how long some of them last) into a home is to think of the five senses—sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste—which stimulate a sixth: emotion, if you will.




The most visual trend can be seen in great architectural detail, found in wallpaper, architectural salvages, and oversized clocks and wall hangings.  Architectural detail immediately warms up a room and layers it with sophistication, if used judiciously.



 The olfactory sense is one of our strongest, so whether it’s a nostalgic scent from our childhood (à la Proust) or one of a new candle, room sprays, or scented oils—experiment!  Try out a few and see which aromas make you feel relaxed and happy when you walk into your home.



This is one of my favorite senses. When I come home from a long day at work, I immediately flip on either Pavarotti, Michael Buble, Rod Stewart, or Steve Tyrell singing their latest “standards.” This past year, I turned a closet into a music room with built-ins for my CDs and record collection.



The basic need for a blanket, a throw, or a pillow most likely began as a necessity, then became a luxury, and, I believe, is again now a necessity. Look for cashmere and cashmere-mix throws and blankets and seek out pillows with lots of texture and pattern. Try to look for more hand stitching, velvets, and dressmaker details in ’07, rather than just the add-ons of beading and the like. 



We are, without a doubt, entertaining more, so be prepared. Buy a lovely set of chargers that will mix with some of your favorite tabletop pieces. Square is the new sexy shape for salad or entrée plates, and antique (or the look thereof) glassware and napkins are all the rage. Mix in ecological products such as bamboo plates or placemats and you’re ahead of the game for the new year.


Chris Madden is the face behind the multi-million dollar-home furnishings and design empire that spans publishing, television, licensing, and merchandising.

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