Florals, yellows and grays stand out as stylish

Trunk show reveals trends for interior design in Baltimore region

August 07, 2010|By Dennis Hockman, Chesapeake Home

Trends mystify me. It's hard for me to imagine buying something just because it's currently in fashion. In fact, I normally do just the opposite.

Still, when it's time to buy new furniture or redo the drapes, better to follow the trends than risk being passé. And while trends are often "created" by marketing gurus to sell new products, trends with staying power, those that eventually morph into classics, emerge organically because somewhere, someone smart was paying attention and filled a need before it even existed.

Whenever I'm interested in what's in, I quiz my decorator friends or take a trip down to the Washington Design Center for a firsthand look. A trade-only mall of sorts for high-end home furnishings, the WDC offers interior designers one-stop shopping from more than 60 specialty showrooms. But close as it is, sometimes trudging down to D.C. is the last thing I have time to do.

So when I found out that the WDC had teamed up with local furniture maker McLain Wiesand to host a trunk show in Baltimore, I dropped a couple of hints and scored an invite for a behind-the-scenes peek at the latest trends.

On hand at the recent McLain Wiesand Cathedral Street trunk show were eight manufacturer's reps showing such chic, trendsetting lines as Weitzner Limited, Donghia, Stark, Samuel & Sons, Jim Thompson, Osborne & Little, Designers Guild, Maya Romanoff, Bergamo, Thibaut, Zoffany and many more, to the dozens of local interior designers who came, like me, to find out what's new, what's happening, what's now.

While there, I also had a chance to chat with some of the reps and ask them what's trendy in this region. Although some of the answers surprised me, most validated what I've been seeing myself: value; environmental sustainability; fun, fresh colors; big print florals; natural and organic materials; and durability.

Value "Cost is king," said Hines & Co.'s Maha Hartary. "The first question [from clients] is 'How much?'"

Similarly, Thibaut's Chris Kohnen said: "People are looking for value — they're more price-conscious than they have been in the past, which is why lines with a good price-point like Thibaut are doing well."

But cost can't be at the expense of durability, style, environmental friendliness and the many other elements that make up the value proposition. More than just price is influenced by the slumped economy and resulting malaise — we're seeing a real shift in the styles, colors and materials people are buying.

Color Because colors tend to be more "in" today and "out" tomorrow than other elements of home decor, color trends always fascinate me. According to Pamela Shapiro, director of textile sales for the WDC's Rist Corp., "The economy has people wanting colors and forms that are happy and fresh. People are gravitating away from earth tones — they want color that pops."

Based on what designers are looking for right now, Hartary says, "soft natural palettes are in."

What colors specifically?

"Yellows and grays," says Osborne & Little's Porcia Woo, and, adds Stark's Carol Forbes, greens, golds, and pinks.

Florals Home interiors are more than just color. Textures, sheen, pattern, and contrast are just some of the many other elements that combine to make great spaces. Earlier this year, we forecasted the floral print comeback in Chesapeake Home, so I was particularly satisfied to see lots of really beautiful floral patterns at the trunk show.

"Not your grandmother's florals, though," says Shapiro. "These patterns have big bold repeats. People find florals very refreshing and uplifting — it's also about bringing the outside in."

Woo confirms, "Osborne & Little is presenting lots of florals with large repeats. They make rooms seem bigger versus the small patterns. And they hold up to tall rooms with tall windows and ceilings."

Natural and eco-friendly materials Just as color patterns and motifs are trending "natural" right now, so too are the raw materials. Every rep I chatted with mentioned the demand for natural fibers — wool, linen, cotton, silk, even bamboo.

Similarly, anything environmentally friendly or sustainable is trendy.

"People are really jumping on the green bandwagon," says Shapiro. "They're asking about durability, sustainability, types of dyes, where fabrics are from," she says. "Younger clients especially are more interested in this than older clients, but once you bring it to a client's attention, they realize it's very durable, and as long as they're beautiful, the attitude is 'why not?.' "

Durability On the flip side of both the eco-friendly and value coins, durable materials will save you money and reduce trash in the landfill because they don't need to be replaced or thrown away as often. What's more, highly durable materials are becoming popular because the way we live has changed. Open floor plans and more casual interiors mean that there aren't many rooms in the house off-limits to kids and pets.

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