The It List

There are homes, and there are homes — the trendsetting places that stand out on the block, the ones that give the rest of us inspiration. Find out how yours can be part of the cool crowd this year.
Thinking of remodeling? Or perhaps you’ve decided as you look around your Brady Bunch home — decorated that way by neglect rather than irony — that you’re better off starting from scratch. You’re going to buy or rent living space that’s a whitewashed palette you can splash with your own color and aesthetic philosophy.

Which would be what?

That’s the hard part. Trying to decide what you love in home decorating or, if everything grabs your fancy, what to leave out. We suggest you get help. Hire a professional. Or, at the very least, paw through shelter magazines until you’ve found enough inspiration to begin prettifying even the dankest of castles. We can help. Read on, and you’ll find the forecasts of home décor experts from northeast Ohio.
Storm Cloud — the Color of Home

Color defines a style, a personal and cultural attitude, and your own emotional state better than anything else around you. That’s why the palette of the day will always be a leading trend — and subject to change next year, so keep your paintbrush handy. But for the time being, it’s all about bold, bold tones.

“Don’t be afraid of color,” advises Adrienne Spencer of Adrienne Spencer Interior Design, and an allied member of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID). Spencer likes what she sees in the newly popular blues tinted with greens. Furthermore, she states, “The red family is very much alive and well. I’ve seen more red couches this year than ever. Every shade of red is popular, including coral and rose.”

On the bold side of bold, says Doreen White, “violet is going to be the big color, with fuchsia or lavender undertones.” White is president and co-owner of the elegant Cottonwood Home & Style in Chagrin Falls and founder of W Interiors, a design service

Jane Marquard is noticing hot pink, turquoise, daisy yellow and melon in fabrics. “And lots of two-color fabrics in simple, geometric patterns.” Marquard co-owns Paysage Home Furnishings, with her husband, Richard. Paysage presents the best in “high country lifestyle” from showrooms in Cleveland Heights and Wilmington, N.C.

Other color trends include any shade of brown, “light to dark,” in fabrics, wallcoverings and paint, says Spencer, who also loves the fact that “neutrals aren’t so neutral.” White, bone white and faint beige have long faded out for darker neutrals in grays and browns. The rich camel and mocha shades are elegant and inviting.

Study the Sherwin Williams collection of about a hundred new colors for insight into our national psyche. In addition to the Earth-friendly Balanced Living family, you’ll find Virtual Re-Mix, a mood-oriented vintage group that includes Pepper, Storm Cloud, Drizzle and Orchid. Other yummy, luxurious new shades include Butter Up, Fine Wine, Luau Green and Exclusive Plum.

But color isn’t all about what gets spread by paintbrush. In fabrics, Spencer likes prints with a tropical influence, “from floral to seashells to coral.”

Brightly painted glass is also being used to dazzle the senses, especially as tile or backsplashes in bathrooms.

We’ll be in the Bathroom

“According to some studies,” says Spencer, “the bathroom is the number one remodeled area in the home today.”

She credits this to the fact that home-dwellers have already gone decorating-crazy in their kitchens — expanding, updating and improving — and now it’s time for America to turn its attention to that other formerly utilitarian living space.

“Bathrooms used to be purely functional, but now they’re more like spas,” she observes. “They have space for reclining, separate bath and shower rooms and all kinds of exciting new water delivery systems.”

Indeed. According to a recent Bathroom Habits Survey from plumbing products manufacturer and distributor American Standard, we’ve put whirlpools at the top of our collective wish list. When remodeling or upgrading our home purchases, we’re coming to expect separate shower and bathtub space, all of which must be spacious and come decked out with an array of high-tech, strategically placed water jets. We drool over sinks that look more like formless chrome and glass works of art, and wish to repose blissfully in the plush elegance of the adjoining lounge area.

No wonder we have a higher count of bathrooms in our homes than ever. The wait, otherwise, would be disastrous.
Love Me, Love My Planet

“The biggest trend is eco-friendly design,” says White. “You see it in Mitchell Gold slipcovers in cotton, linen and even hemp, and in the use of cork flooring and recycled wood floors.”

Similarly reused are the hip and affordable antiques, vintage accessories and flea market treasures that even the most cost-conscious can own and proudly showcase. Other earthy touches include such natural fiber floor coverings as easily renewable jute, flax, wool, sisal and coir (made from coconut shells). Non-toxic finishes and varnishes and VOC-free paints are also being applied.
Today’s color palettes reflect this newfound environmentalism, too. Sherwin-Williams paints, for instance, introduced a collection dedicated to “Green Living.” Al Gore would feel right at home.

Yes, it’s a Small World

The euro overtook the pound, franc and lira; China is on the Internet with credit cards out; and America is effectively bilingual. Borders aren’t disappearing, but if you think multiculturalism is making headway in your home, the answer is “si.” Or “oui.”

“You’ll see an exotic look in everything,” says White.

Consider all of those red couches and accents mentioned earlier. They’re unmistakably Asian-influenced. That look is “going to get hotter and hotter, the closer we get to the Beijing Olympics,” predicts Marquard, who’s already seeing Eastern-looking cherry blossom patterns in accessories.

Not to be outdone on the global front, the style mavens at Benjamin Moore Paints have a color group called Cultural Tapestry that defines the we-are-the-world ideal: rhubarb, passion blue, potpourri green and wood grain brown as suggested by the aesthetics of the Baltic region, China, India and Latin America.

Throw in the teak and bamboo in today’s wood flooring and furniture and the effect is one stylish global village.

Generational Common Ground

“You’ll find more common ground today between contemporary and traditional,” says interior decorator and graphic designer Bonnie Ontko of Bonnie Ontko Design Studio.

Which means contemporary décor is warming up in emotional tone while we’re at the same time seeking greater simplicity in color and in the number of accessories even in traditional design.

Antiques are cool, whether installed in a late 19th century Victorian in Hudson or a Westlake mansion with the sod not yet installed. You’ll see modern rooms paired with vintage accessories and sleek, contemporary attitude housed within traditional architecture. Stone, wrought-iron, glass and polished concrete give your space a self-assured sense of timelessness.

Home as Sanctuary

The idea behind the home-as-sanctuary philosophy is that the space is, after all, yours. It’s your retreat from the tension and hassles of daily living, so it must be decorated as you see fit.

How do you get tranquility at home? Perhaps by taking a cue from yesteryear.

“The cottage look is in,” says Ontko.

But it’s a bungalow blend of comfort and style — not quaintness. As she puts it, “The feel is of going to Grandma’s house, but with updated features and appliances. I’m seeing gathering rooms — little rooms off of the kitchen just for family and close friends. And covered back porches which give a cozier feeling than sitting out on a blistering hot deck.”

Cozy elegance, you might call it — a classic style all of your own.

So, by all means, take inspiration from what you’ve just read, but adapt it to your own style and sensibilities. Add that final critical element — love — and you can’t possibly go wrong.
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