From jewel-toned velvets and brightly colored tile to curved furniture and archways, the stark minimalist spaces of the last decade are ceding ground to warmer, more luxurious design. Designers are using pattern and texture to create moments of wonder and whimsy within more neutral and subdued surroundings.
“In the past few years, there has been a large movement toward a softer sense of what modern is,” said interior designer Tamara Eaton of Tamara Eaton Design. “Still reacting from the harsh, white, minimal lines with cold finishes, designers and homeowners want to create clean, modern environments that feel warm and soft.”
Keep an eye out for velvets and luxurious textures, jewel tones, vibrant patterns, intensely colored tile, curves and fairytale moods.
Rich Colors, High Shine and Soft Textures.
Much of Eaton’s work focuses on layering bold, velvety solids within a clean white box. But rich colors and textures can also work in a historic setting, she said.
“I’ve seen a much more confident use of jewel tone colors recently, especially in townhouses,” Eaton said. “Rich colors and velvets were traditionally used in Victorian interiors, but in a very heavy-handed way. With modern townhouses, there is often a nod or reference to historic details, but with solid jewel tone furniture or interior accents, it inserts a traditional notion but in a very modern way.”
Jewel tones encompass sapphire, amethyst, ruby red, tourmaline pink, rose quartz and emerald. Jen Albano of Jen Albano Spaces uses clear, saturated reds and greens every chance she gets.
“The trick for me is to balance the brilliance with lots soft neutrals,” she said. “That said, jewel tones can work together and be intensely layered to magical effect. I recently did a house where reds and rich yellows appear in almost every room with tons of pattern and texture, and accented variously with deep blue and black.”
Jewel colors and saturated tones are appearing in stone and tile in kitchens, bathrooms and furniture. Seeking an alternative to traditional white marble and subway tile, designers are exploring colorful counter materials such as rose quartz and malachite and going big with all-over boldly colored, high-shine tile in bathrooms.
Keren Richter of White Arrow Interiors likes to use pale pinks in marbles like Rosa Aurora, and finishes such as travertine and alabaster, to create texture and depth.
“A lot of what we’re seeing right now is a reaction to the rustic, timeworn, and antique elements that were happening during the recession,” Richter said. “Clean lines, curves, reflective surfaces, and bold design detailing feel refreshing by comparison.”
Curves and Arches.
Curves are also making a comeback, replacing sharp edges and straight lines. Albano recently designed a custom vanity mirror for a master bathroom suite with rounded corners, and has used curved edges for counter ledges, benches, dining tables and bed frames.
“I’ve long used curved radius and rounded edges in my work and look for vintage pieces with them,” Albano said. “They’re a perfect merging of past and present. I find the edge softens contemporary hardness.”
Richter’s own Williamsburg home features arches, and arched windows and doorways, and she has designed a number of bathrooms and interior spaces that have arched corridors, custom arched shower doors, and curvilinear deco-inspired cabinetry, she said. The curvy trend extends to furniture.
“Curved furniture works beautifully in difficult to furnish spaces but also creates an elegance within its form,” Eaton said. “If you think about humans interacting with furniture, there is nothing wrong with squared or rectilinear furniture but curved furniture is so much more ergonomic.”
Fairytale Patterns and Magical Moods.
Lush and riotous blooms and swirls are finding their way onto wallpaper and fabrics, some reminiscent of 1920s decorative arts and art movements, such as Cubism, Fauvism, C.F.A. Voysey and the Bloomsbury Group.
Wallpaper and bright pops of color can create moments of playfulness in a space. Albano likes to work in animal motifs, flowers and stars, ombre and shibori fabrics, whimsical wallpaper, tassels and pompoms, vintage figurines, animal book ends and hand painted decorations into a space.
“I love wrapping vestibules with whimsical paper on the walls as well as ceilings,” Albano said. “It bring us into the magic right away… Many of these elements evoke joy and gentleness and assist in creating interiors that are an oasis for the city life outside. Balancing with more masculine elements can often be key with these. Just a bit of whimsy and magic can go a long way.”
Eaton also uses wallpaper to set a whimsical tone.
“Most homes we do are for families with kids and pets. A home should be a happy, fun filled environment so we try to create moments of whimsy throughout the space,” Eaton said. “Wallpaper or pops of color can exude fairytale like moments that are still sophisticated enough to coexist alongside a more mature master bedroom or formal dining room.”
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