New Trends Rising

New Trends Rising
From punchy patterns and coastal colors to shimmery metallics and brilliant bling, see what’s new in Emerald Coast interiors By Lis King

The top national design trends — eco-chic, an emphasis on quality, furniture with cleaner lines, a resurgence of pattern and a bit of bling — prevail along the Emerald Coast, but area designers are quick to point out that coastal living sometimes means following the beat of a different drummer.

“Our permanent residents decorate one way, while those who have second homes here look at design a whole different way,” says Connyo Meredith of Sand Castle Designs in Destin. “Even those of us who live here all year have a guest room that’s decorated in the saltwater-cottage style visitors love. I dare say that this look of woven rattan, raffia, and white and cream colors will never really leave us here along the coast.”

Libby Baker of Baker Design Company in Santa Rosa Beach agrees.

“Most of my clients have sophisticated full-time homes, but they let down their hair when designing homes at the beach,” she says. “I will go one step further and say that some of our coastal trends are starting to spread nationally. For example, there’s a hazy gray stain that mimics driftwood. It’s showing up a lot in wood furniture. Linens and cotton fabrics are also becoming extremely popular for upholstery and draperies. Big clam shells and heads of coral have risen in popularity as well.”

The wares at national accessories shows this spring prove Baker right. Coastal-themed items are everywhere, including shell-adorned lamps, pillows with octopus and sand dollar motifs, and dinnerware, throws and wall hangings with nautical themes.

Going Green

Eco-chic dominates all other trends, to the point where it almost appears to be a movement rather than a trend.

“People embrace green design not just because of environmental concerns,” says Susan Lovelace of Lovelace Interiors in Miramar Beach. “They also want to live in healthier, more comfortable spaces.”

GO FOR THE GOLD Metallics, which were popular during Hollywood’s glamorous 1930s, are big again. Linda Mugglin, of Tassels Inc., designed this penthouse foyer at Marina Landing in Panama City Beach with 24-carat gold brushed onto the walls. Photo by Scott Holstein

Today’s eco-friendly design is a far cry from the Birkenstock crowd’s aesthetics. It can be gorgeous, according to Lovelace. There are many beautiful, eco-conscious products now, and they permeate every area of home design, including reclaimed wood flooring, cork flooring, energy-efficient appliances, plumbing fixtures that reduce water usage, bamboo “mohair” throws in spectacular colors, natural fibers, organically grown cotton, low- and no-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints, recycled carpeting and glass tiles, and even reclaimed synthetics. The list goes on and on.

“Another way to go green is to reuse pieces of furniture and building elements,” Lovelace says. “This is recycling at its best, spurred on by all the (concern) about global warming. We not only save trees when we buy antiques or vintage furniture, we also save fuel because the items aren’t shipped from distant lands.

“We almost always mix old and new when we design a room. Besides, such a room is infinitely more interesting than one with all-new furnishings.”

Reclaiming The Past

Designer Baker is on the same track.

“I make it a point to include at least one vintage piece of furniture or material in a room. It makes a room come alive,” she says. “I also like to repurpose pieces of furniture a homeowner already has. For example, a piece may be painted or stained to be more cohesive with the new elements, and an old sofa, so comfy you can’t bear to part with it, can be slip-covered. An old armoire can be given glass doors and new shelving.”

Baker’s favorite story of reuse is a reclaimed brick fireplace in a project where a screened porch was converted to an extension of a lakefront home. The masons working on the hearth used old bricks, some of them stamped with the manufacturer’s name. That inspired the homeowner’s father to bring over two more bricks, similarly stamped with a manufacturer’s name. The name happened to be Kimberly, the homeowner’s name; naturally, the bricks were incorporated into the hearth.

The floor in that house and most of the furnishings were also examples of reuse.

“We wire-brushed the floor, plank by plank, to bring out the grain, and we upgraded the furniture with new fabrics on the sofa and chairs,” Baker says. “We also kept the original porch siding. That made the extension more authentic.”

Quality Counts

Sobered by the high cost of energy and the state of the economy, even the wealthiest homeowners have become thrifty, say designers, and this has caused a shift in buying patterns.

“People only replace furnishings if absolutely necessary,” notes Genesse White, owner of Abigayle’s Interiors in Panama City. “And when they do buy, they are very selective. Part of that scenario is buying high-quality products and classic, timeless furniture styles that will stand the test of time.”

Like most other area designers, Linda Mugglin, owner of Tassels Inc. in Panama City, sees a more contemporary, post-Deco influence underfoot, with leaner-looking furniture, often with refined embellishments such as stainless steel trim or mother-of-pearl inlays.

“Think of the Hollywood glamour of the 1930s, but in an approachable way,” she says.

Along the same lines, interior designer Lovelace sees quality as a trend and feels that “less is more” may become a leitmotif once again.

“We can all use less things, which then puts greater pressure on what items we select to live with,” she says. “Of course, luxury won’t be a thing of the past, but we’ll want fewer things of finer quality, and we’ll want them to be useful. At the recent accessories market, I bought serving pieces that are very beautiful, but they can go from freezer to oven to table, saving water and dishwasher energy as well as storage space.”

Meredith, of Sand Castle Designs, feels that plasma TVs are responsible for the more contemporary look creeping into interiors.

“Put a plasma on a wall, and it changes the room,” she explains. “It practically dictates cleaner lines. And since it can stand on a pedestal, those massive armoires that used to house TV sets are now passé.”

Natural — Or Not?

Natural elements, such as stone, slate, indoor/outdoor sisal rugs, driftwood pieces, fossilized wood, leather and feathers, fit neatly into the eco-trend.

“This is very much about texture,” says Molly Ann Jackson-Riley of Defined Interiors in Navarre. “It’s a wonderful way to add interest to a room, most often subtle and calming, but sometimes also a way to add a bit of bling, one of the hottest trends.”

“These are difficult economic times, but small extravagances can renew a home as well as the psyche,” Jackson-Riley says. “Unique pieces, such as a lamp with a base of petrified or fossilized wood, are good examples. Artisanal goods — pieces that bring natural materials and the hand of the craftsman into the house — are equally effective. They add richness.”

Feathers of ostrich, pheasants, quail and peacock are all the rage in 2010, sometimes showing up as part of drapery tassels, pillow fringes, and picture and mirror frames, and other times standing on their own as decorative arrangements. Ostrich feathers may be dyed to complement a color scheme, but other feathers — especially the peacock’s — are so naturally showy, with a hint of metallic bling to them, that they’re left as they are.

Is 24-carat gold a natural decorating element? In Tassels owner Mugglin’s book it is, although she admits that it could also be described as the ultimate expression of bling.

Mugglin tells of designing a penthouse foyer with gold walls.

“I work with an artist who’s a genius with layered painting,” she says. “She brushed 24-carat gold onto the walls of the foyer and also on one wall in the dining room.”

Animal hides are another popular decorating element, according to Mugglin. Used as rugs, they often sport outrageous colors never found on any beast in nature. You see cowhides, for example, stamped with zebra stripes in colors such as turquoise or chocolate brown on white.

Pattern Punch

While furniture silhouettes are shrinking, decorative patterns are growing. Large-scale prints are appearing in fabrics, floor and wall coverings, with geometric patterns — like herringbone, houndstooth, ikats and bargellos — taking the spotlight.

Wall coverings are making a stunning comeback nationally, with papered ceilings especially strong, but most local designers wrinkle their noses and declare these products too fussy and impractical for coastal living.
Many old fabric standbys are coming back, but with new twists. Paisley, for example, is updated with Moroccan themes, and toiles are leaving their shepherdesses-in-meadows motifs behind and adopting more au courant images, such as lighthouses, sailboats and cars. They can also be designed digitally to feature family photos.

Stripes are also back, not only in fabrics, wall coverings and paint, but in new color combinations and scales. Sonu Mathew, a Benjamin Moore interior designer, is partial to stripes of the same color, but in different finishes, to produce texture contrasts.

“It’s subtle and elegant,” she says. “Perfect for the less-is-more age.”

Many designers are betting that art nouveau, exotic and ethnic prints, modernized with bright colors or oversize scales, will make a strong comeback. Architectural and ironwork motifs, Greek keys and medallions will be reworked and find their way to tableware and accessories.

Colors for 2010

The Color Marketing Group, the country’s leading authority on the palette for home products, as well as fashion and cars, is having a purple moment that will last through 2010. Grape, says the organization, is the big color of the year. The Color Marketing Group calls it Mardi Grape and describes it as a “sophisticated crossover between purple, brown and gray.”

This is no surprise to designers. They know that colors for the home follows those on the runway, and Mardi Grape was the big fashion color last year.

“Now, it’s all set to be the year’s biggest star for everything else,” says Color Marketing Group president James Martin. “But the big story is that today, we’re seeing purple as a neutral for the first time. This purple is browner and grayer, a neutral we can love long term.”

The group also forecasts gray as a major 2010 color, calling it “the new beige.”

On the other hand, Pantene, the global color leader, says turquoise will be the big color for 2010. The color evokes thoughts of soothing tropical waters and a languorous escape from the everyday troubles of the world, notes Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantene Color Institute.

Translating Trends

So what are homeowners and designers to do?

Jackson-Riley surely has it right when she says color is an individual choice and nobody should dictate to you what color to paint your walls. She counsels her clients to check their closets to narrow down the colors they lean toward.

“That’s a good place to start,” she says. “The colors in your home should make you happy and suit your lifestyle. Having said that, my clients are beginning to lean toward old-world colors, such as gold and sage green. The cooler tones of blue, a lot of teal and lime green are also big colors in the area.”

While some designers decry trends, interior designer Lovelace feels that keeping up with them can be helpful.

“They can help you obtain directions and keep a room from looking dated,” she says. “I’d say that for 2010, directions are good. How can you argue with eco-chic and classic looks or, for that matter, with turquoise, the color of the ocean around here, or with purple, the color of dawns and sunsets? Besides, you can’t avoid the trends.

“Once colors have been declared, they show up in everything you buy, from place mats to bedspreads,” Lovelace says. “If you do fall for a trend that seems faddish — perhaps an exotic print in acid green or magenta — just restrain it to a pillow or something equally small. Be safe with the big purchases and playful with the small ones.”