Driving down a city alley the other day, a flash of fur caught my eye. Nope, it wasn’t another chimpanzee-sized rat. It was a formerly prized possession: a faux Moroccan Beni Ourain-style rug, pale and shaggy with a dark diamond pattern, a once-bold accent that had imbued its owner’s apartment with of-the-moment style. Until that moment passed. Or the dog had one accident too many.
Whatever the reason, all trends must pass, and fall is a time when we look around and reassess the house we are about to cozy up in for the foreseeable future. (When is spring, anyway?) That’s when we notice the artwork we still haven’t hung, the pillows that aren’t quite the color they used to be or the rug that’s no longer as chic as we thought it was.
This is why, DIY decorators, designers wisely advise us against trends: “I actually try to steer clear of trends,” says Chicago designer Summer Thornton. “They’re more likely to look dated in a few years.” Still, if you’re ready for a fall update this year, Thornton and fellow Chicago designer Amy Kartheiser weighed in on some of the fresh ideas that are floating around right now.
Try a mellow yellow. Terra cotta is poised to take over from ‘millennial’ pink as the color of the moment, but soft yellow might be a better bet for an accent color that looks cool now and has staying power.
“Sure, some colors become wildly overused and popular,” says Thornton. “But I think any color can feel fresh if it is used in a new way, because it’s more about the combination of colors and how they work together than any single color.”
Yellow can mix with terra cotta or add a spark to blues. “I don’t like bright, sunny yellow,” says Kartheiser, “but I love golden yellow. It’s very warm and cozy, and it also gets into that brass color that you see everywhere. There’s something comforting about it. Everything comes around,” says Kartheiser, “and I just feel that it’s a color that’s come around.”
Get into (postmodern) shape. Geometric shapes have been a huge design trend for several years, but it’s time for a twist. The abstract art of the 1980s is influencing everything from fabric and wallpaper prints to metal wall sculptures to sofas with curved backs. “I’m pulling elements and inspiration from the late 1800s up through the 1980s and everything in between,” says Thornton. “I think people are branching out more and pulling from the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s.”
Go wallpaper-crazy. And speaking of the ’80s: “The wallpapers of the ’80s are coming back,” says Kartheiser. “We had wallpaper in every single room growing up.” The design world, she says, has been bringing that idea back, and it’s catching fire.
“People are feeling bolder and more confident in their choices, and I always tell clients that it’s the thing you’re the most afraid of that you end up loving the most once it’s installed. That’s what wallpaper and big bold prints do.” Our advice? Take the plunge into granny chic with an allover floral.
Hang a portrait. Whether you have your own private Louvre or just a carefully chosen piece or two, consider adding a portrait to your mix of artwork. “I think there’s something about people’s faces that engages you or draws you in,” says Kartheiser. “Think about Mona Lisa – how many people have talked about that portrait of this woman?” The unveiling of the official portraits of Michelle and Barack Obama earlier this year sparked even more interest in the art form, she says.
“I’ve always been a huge fan of portraiture,” says Thornton. “We have our foyer filled with a mixture of antique and modern portraits from around the world. They bring a sense of history and character to a home.” Portraits don’t need to be family members (in fact, it’s more fun if they’re not), and they don’t need to be expensive to look good. Vintage portraits, whether photographs or paintings, can often be found in antiques stores or even your nearest thrift shop.
By Cindy Dampier, Chicago Tribune