Thursday, March 27, 2008

What's Out and What's In

In looking at trends I find it just as helpful to see what’s on its way out from the last season as what is on its way in for this next. The exciting thing about the High Point Market is the opportunity to see what trends will be impacting the consumer in the next year and a half. I’ll be there this April to get the inside scoop, but here are the trends I see reaching the consumer, as well as retail outlets, right now.

Design Trends on the way out:

Painting Your Trim (baseboard/crown molding) A Color Darker Than Your Walls: This was a trend when people wanted to get creative with color, but were scared of it. They figured a little extra pop on the trim was only a small area to cover so how risky could it be? In actuality, it just grayed-down the room and made the space look a little more tired and older than it really was. Crisp, clean white trim is back (for some, it never left). White freshens up the look of the oldest, beat-up molding. And now, with fewer people buying new homes, more consumers will want to update what they already have. Tell them white trim is a good place to start!

Formal Living Rooms: It’s still all about the family room and lots of existing “formal” living rooms are being converted into game rooms, family spaces or home offices. With kids having jam-packed schedules and parents working later and longer than ever, people want to connect with family. They are willing to forgo the formal space for a “hangout” space. And some parents realize if they create an area their kids want to spend time in, their kids will have friends over and they can seek out some more quality time, as well as keep tabs on them.

Big Bold Patterned Wallpaper: Wallpaper is still hot; it’s just not big, bold and bright. Opt for more subtle color ways that are softer, or tone on tone. People are also using wallpaper in more controlled ways, such as an accent on just one wall, or inside door panels.

Aqua and Chocolate Brown: I’m not sure this combo will ever go away completely, once it started to hit college campuses across the country you knew it had played itself out. Chocolate paired with orange is hot, as is gray mixed with cream.

Collections or Collecting (Anything!): Whether moving to a smaller dwelling or just clearing out old junk, people have discovered that living with less stuff is the ultimate luxury. Unclutter!

Current Design Trends (or trends that will be sticking around)

The Eclectic Mix: Consumers are getting more confident about surrounding themselves with the things they love and by gosh, if they bought that enormous Southwestern dining table while they were on their honeymoon, but now like a 1960’s mod dining chair, they are going to mix them together and love it! Designers have done it for years. Now, thanks to all those design shows, everybody else is figuring it out. Expect your customers to trust their own taste a little more

Color is Back: And bright yellow is leading the way. Yellow looks new and modern when it’s paired with a soft gray or white or black, and yellow as an accent traditionally looks great when it’s paired with rich navy or a soft lime green. It can also be incorporated in accessories for those low commitment color-types. Either way, it’s definitely unexpected and will most likely only be around for one season!

Multi-functional Rooms: Whether people are downsizing or wanting to spend more time with each other, most rooms these days are called upon to serve more than one purpose (think kitchen/ office, living room/office and so on…). This is making people get creative about how they lay out their spaces. For some it’s a necessity since smaller spaces demand double-duty rooms, while others just find they enjoy the simplicity and ease. The furniture industry has taken notice and I predict you’ll see even more small-scale designs and multi-functional pieces at Market.

Sheer Textiles: Gone are the days where you hung a simple polyester sheer panel on your windows. Sheers now are chic and fabulous in colors, laser-cut mod patterns, or soft, see-through linen. Sheer fabrics let the outdoors in, in a stylish way. There are expensive imports, as well as less expensive knock-offs, so these days you can find a fabulous sheer fabric for whatever space or price range you’re in.

The “Green” Movement:

Green, as in eco-friendly, was the buzzword in every industry last year and the home furnishings business was no exception. Expect your customers to be more environmentally conscious from here on out, no if’s, and’s or but’s. This is more than a trend, it’s a new lifestyle movement! There are so many new products that are being created by people who are passionate about the planet and whether it’s bamboo cabinetry, cork flooring, or a counter top surface made from recycled beer and wine bottles, the consumer is learning that a “green” interior can be just as beautiful and stylish as any other.