By Cindy Boykin
Color, cowhide, and contemporary twists on classic styles—those are some of the interior design trends appearing this year.
Michael Reese, lead designer and buyer for Gary Riggs Interiors, is seeing fun and exciting trends emerge, starting with color.
"After a number of years of everyone doing their house in a very heavy Old World style, people are looking to freshen things up. So coloration has become lighter in general," Michael explains. "We see more primary colors like purples, pinks, reds, blues, greens—brighter tones. However, they might be reserved for specific pieces on a neutral background. So maybe your upholstery and walls are somewhat neutral, but adding a chest, pillows, and art allows you to layer in those brighter pops of color."
If you are going for a bolder statement, embrace a color like malachite green. Michael states, "This malachite green is an example of a darker color, but it has so much life to it. Remember the jewel tones? They were always mixed with the burgundies, navies, and dark reds. But the key with a color like this is to create contrast. So we have these black and white images, and black and gold images, against that green. When you create a contrast like that, it doesn't become too heavy or dark."
Another color becoming increasingly popular is blue. "Blue is a color that all but went away for a few years," Michael says. "Every shade of blue—dark blue, cobalt, lighter blue, sky blue—is used today. We tend to mix all different shades together, which makes it a little more interesting." Complementary colors are yellow, white and cream hues.
A striking blue dining set of teakwood and Sunbrella fabric reminds Michael of another current trend—outdoor living spaces. "When you go through the checklist of homes in a certain price range, it used to be, Does it have a wet bar and marble entry? Then it was, Does it have a media room?
"Today, people really enjoy creating outdoor environments—the pool area, fireplace, kitchen, patios—and manufacturers have finally caught up to the demand for unique outdoor furnishings. Sunbrella fabrics have come so far, that many times we are using Sunbrella fabrics for dining chairs because they are very cleanable. This fabric is weather proof, or in some cases weather resistant." Not to mention, beautiful!
Hues that have been popular for eight or nine years and remain strong are those soft, almost aqua blues. Michael points out, "There are varying shades, some are bluer, some are greener, but they all mix really well with cream and off white.
He continues, "We use it a lot for bedrooms because it's a restful color. It's also a moody color—brighter during the day and really soft and moody in the evening. So this color is popular for bedrooms, but we also have it on dining chairs, sofas, club chairs—it's a very elegant color."
In summing up the use of color, Michael offers this advice: "No matter what the color is, you have to commit to it. Most people, when they are painting, think longevity. They tend to stay neutral because they feel that they won't tire of that. But unfortunately, a lot of people do themselves a disservice by never setting up their home in the way that most stimulates them.
"And this area is very transient, people come and go all the time. As a result, houses, to a degree, are made to be very neutral because in the back of your mind there's always the thought that it has to appeal to someone looking at it to buy. But I tend to differ with most realtors about painting everything neutral. In my experience, the houses I've sold personally, it has been those more interesting things that actually helped to sell the house."
Classic gets a little funky
If you love the ornate, substantial look of classic pieces, but you desire something a little more 21st century, marry the two styles.
"A little bit of a trend is taking really traditional pieces and making them fun and more current. Like this French chest with the metal ormolu and decorative hardware would typically have a wood finish; but by painting it bright pink and using silver leaf, it takes on a different look and feel."
Traditional French chairs are made to look a little Bohemian with the fabric pattern, orange leather, and turquoise wood frame.
Large mirrors embellished with massive amounts of ornate carving can be classic or contemporary, depending on the finish or paint color.
The use of appliqué and embroidery to embellish clothing, bedding, furnishing and just for the sake of art goes back to antiquity. Always appreciated, but not frequently used in the last few decades, this beautiful stitching that creates artful touches is once again found in home decor.
For a fresh pop of contemporary, consider adding a few paintings. Even in traditional homes, a beautiful piece with strong colors can make a statement and freshen a room with the tap of a hammer and picture hook.
It's cowhide, y'all
What's more ideal for a Texas home than a cowhide-covered accent piece? And, because cowhide can be dyed or stenciled, it has an exotic and elegant look to it. Plus it's durable. As Michael says with a smile, "After all, it used to be on cows, and they're outside in all kinds of weather."
Cowhide covered chairs that can be used for dining or card tables have a luxurious brindle pattern in its natural state. Other pieces, rugs for example, can be stenciled to look like zebra skins. A coffee table looks like an exotic animal print, but it is another example of stenciled cowhide. This rugged material can also be over-dyed in solid colors like blue or black, or it can be bleached to become pure white.
A chest with tan and cream hide is stunning. The soft colors allow it to blend with an array of colors. Oh, it will be noticed, but it is compatible with many fabrics, colors and styles. Versatile and durable, this is not your typical leather accent!
We wrapped up our conversation about current home decorating trends with Michael and made our way back through the vast 45,000-square-foot design center and showroom at Gary Riggs Interiors' new location, Alpha Road north of the Galleria in Dallas. Looking across the three-level space, Michael says, "We show a lot of color...and we always have. When people walk through, they recognize that it looks different and it feels different."
As more people select pieces based on personal preferences—like going for color, cowhide, or a blending of contemporay with classic—they are discovering that their homes bring them a sense of great joy, fun and uniqueness.
As Henry David Thoreau said, "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined."