Five Central Ohio designers forecast 2011 trends for color, scale, texture and more.
Isabella Grayfer relaxes at Roche Bobois, the European-inspired modern furnishings store at 858 N. High St. in the Short North.
Courtesy Isabella Grayfer
Spring is a time for rejuvenation—the season for giving spaces new life. Whether it’s a coat of paint, a few fresh throw pillows or more unique and trendy touches, don’t hesitate. It’s time to shake it up and bring it on. Dazzle your guests—and yourself—with innovative choices that show off your personal style.
Five of Central Ohio’s well-known interior designers—from the traditional to the avant-garde—and a color expert offer their best observations on what’s hot right now, and what’ll be trending in the months ahead. They’ve got a watchful eye on the fashion industry, where many interior design trends originate—the colors, shapes and retro looks. Extensive travels across the globe to furniture shows and gift marts—High Point, Chicago, Atlanta, Milan and more—inspire, inform and sharpen their unique design sensibilities.
Color is back
But exactly which color? That’s open for discussion. Color research institutes, after gauging the economy, global mood and what’s hot in pop culture, differ. Pantone’s top 2011 pick is Honeysuckle, a vibrant reddish-pink. Color Marketing Group embraces a golden yellow called Honey Moon. It’s optimistic, yet grounded, company officials say.
Ruthanne Hanlon, national color and design manager at Pittsburgh Paints, hesitates on the one-color proclamation. “Pittsburgh Paints is introducing four new palettes,” she says. “And we’re moving away from the muted colors of the past few years.” Hanlon’s seeing red lacquer, dark greens, browns and blacks emerge. “Black is complex and hot,” she explains. “Like our Cracked Slate, a deep charcoal. Paired with white wainscoting, it can go traditional or funky.”
“People are afraid to use color,” admits Dennis McAvena, an interior designer who’s been striking an elegant balance between traditional and contemporary for over 25 years. “But taupes, blacks and chocolates can create such drama for, say, a small library,” he says. And color is sophisticated. “I came back from England one time having fallen in love with a burnt orange door surrounded by gray trim,” he says. “It was a beautiful, unusual combination, and I used it for a client shortly afterwards with great results.”
Isabella Grayfer, president and owner of Roche Bobois a contemporary furniture store in the Short North, suggests “graige,” an ultra-chic blend of gray and beige that is all the rage in European interiors. She should know. Grayfer’s business travels take her to Paris, Venice and Milan, where she attends the Salone Internazionale del Mobile, the ultimate home furnishings exhibition in Europe. “Monochromatic schemes, with a mix of textures, are big,” says Grayfer. “Use them with a bold accent of eggplant, orange or apple green.”
Some designers, though, still like it white. Josh Wood, owner of JWAA Interiors, an antiques and design company, believes white is the optimal background for important art and fine antiques. “It makes the collections sing,” he says. “Don’t pay too much attention to fads in color, because in six months they’re out anyway. If you like green, go with green. You’ll be happier.”
“Remember several years ago when huge, oversized sofas and chairs were popular?” asks interior designer Peggy Smith, owner of Worthington’s high-end traditional furniture store Howard Brooks Interiors. “Well, I never went in that direction, but there’s a trend now towards smaller-scaled furniture.”
McAvena agrees. “The big excesses of ten years ago—the full drapes puddling on the floor, fat bullion fringe—it’s all scaled back now, more tailored,” he says. “And you’re seeing fewer accessories, not as many antiques. The younger people are drawn to contemporary.”
One designer, however, favors an industrial modern-meets-classic bent and fully embraces big scales. Designer David M. Berg turns the rules of ratio and proportion into an unexpected advantage. “I like to play with scale, do a really massive coffee table. It grounds a room,” he says. “Then throw in a couple of small leather club chairs.” A nearly floor-to-ceiling mirror framed in Chinese railroad ties or an outsized workbench will add youthful, modern impact. “It’s playful,” says Berg.
Element of modern
Elements of modernism including lean, sculptural chairs, linear legs and chrome are being referenced in traditional design. In the Baker line, which Howard Brooks Interiors carries in its mix of handcrafted traditional pieces, is a Thomas Pheasant stack lamp, with a rectangular shade and base that has a cool and modern look.
“Twenty-five years ago, Baker was very traditional,” says Smith. “Now it’s one of my trendier lines—they have great designers like Barbara Barry and Jacques Garcia doing sleek, edgy collections. And blending those transitional pieces into a room adds interest.”
Grayfer senses a big shift in furniture design. “When I opened my store in 1984, I would say 75 percent of the furniture out there was traditional and early American,” she says. “Now, it’s maybe 15 percent that’s strictly traditional—what’s emerging is a soft contemporary blend.”
A fuzzy cashmere throw draped over one of Smith’s elegant Guy Chaddock sofas announces comfort and coziness. In Grayfer’s contemporary setting, a sleek Italian leather sectional is paired with an embossed fabric pillow for textural contrast. The extra-long loops of a shaggy area rug make a nubby, visual statement in addition to providing softness.
Berg gets downright aggressive with texture: He’ll dot a living room with large spheres concocted from pieces of wood, use the stone base of a bird bath as a pillar for a large candle and place an oversized ball of green moss in a distressed urn. A thick sisal rug and the weave of a chair will also play a big role in how a room looks, he says.
“Texture is important,” adds McAvena. “It keeps the eye from becoming bored.” In his own living room, with its mustard yellow walls and sage green ceiling, he’s filled one corner with a folding screen made of antique tin ceiling tiles. The bronze-colored screen offers a color contrast to the rich chocolate brown mohair sofa from England, adds height and introduces eye-catching texture with its weathered patina.
“Part of the bone structure of a room, one of those hidden things that you don’t think much about, is lighting,” maintains Berg. He encourages thinking far beyond the standard ceiling spotlight cans and run-of-the-mill table lamps.
“I worked in London on a project, and in addition to primary task lighting, there was lots of mood lighting,” he says. For evening glamour, Berg installed uplights for the draperies and trendy hanging fixtures to create singular, concentrated pools of light where they were needed.
Berg has even constructed his own showstopper fixtures. For the Kevin Knight home at the BIA Parade of Homes last year, Berg had an electrician wire an antique theatrical footlight into an upside-down cooking pot, called a kadai tub, from India. It created quite a buzz. “I’m drawn to decorative fixtures that are not typical,” he laughs. “Like those Thomas Edison bulbs and long exposed filaments that flicker.”
Find new uses
“Upholsterers are busier than ever,” says Wood. And why not? “If your sofa has great lines, or you own a piece that has sentimental value, you should have it re-covered. To use the buzz word, it’s about being ‘green’ as well.”
But in addition, you can use furniture in alternative ways. “The armoire that’s been functioning for years as an entertainment center can go back to being an armoire now that flat-screens have taken over,” says Smith. “You can have additional shelves installed and use it in a bedroom for linen storage.”
Small changes, big effect
If we don’t have big bucks to spend, there are simple things that can be accomplished with a little bit of forethought and an afternoon’s work. “Try an edgy color on the walls,” Smith says. “Or a different degree of the color you already have. Because it’s easier to paint the walls than change the sofa. Reposition the furniture. Put some things away. And group similar objects for a restful effect.”
Reframe a favorite piece of art, advises Wood. “A painting that came from your grandma, with that old frame and mat, will look totally different once it’s reframed. It makes a tremendous difference.”
McAvena starts with bigger ticket ideas: Have slipcovers made for a fresh, seasonal switch. Remove the carpet, install a wood or laminate floor and add an area rug. “That will really open up the space,” he says. “If it’s been 10 years or more, change your window treatments—maybe shutters or blinds for a clean look.”
“Add a funky accessory,” adds McAvena. “Or one new piece that’s totally overscaled, even a huge bouquet of flowers. Because every room needs a little romance.”
Rhonda Koulermos is a freelance writer.