My favorite part of going to the home-furnishings markets is previewing the hottest trends in interior decorating. One of my favorite trend-makers to watch is Holly Blalock, a visionary who has the uncanny ability to mix color, pattern and texture in a way that makes interior design not only accessible, but fun.
I caught up with Blalock, who is the vice president of merchandise and marketing for one of my favorite furniture makers, CR Laine, and asked her to share the hottest trends in home interior design for 2013:
Fifty shades of green
For years, I've been a big advocate of mixing different shades of green, just as Mother Nature does outside. So I was thrilled when Pantone chose emerald green as the color of the year for 2013. So was Blalock, who had already begun building an exciting new design look that tossed together every kind of green imaginable to create an invigorating space.
Forget matchy-matchy with this look. It's an everything-goes palette that layers together emerald, spruce, jade, lemon grass, avocado -- you name it -- in one big verdant jumble.
If you're new to decorating with green, try introducing it in small doses. If you know you love green, go for it. Add a cornerstone piece to your room that makes a statement.
It's only natural
The immensely popular trend toward natural, neutral decor will be as strong as ever in 2013, but with a few exciting new twists, Blalock says.
First, look for relaxed, natural fabrics in cream and oatmeal to be shown on furniture frames that boast a structured silhouette. In a surprising juxtaposition, you'll find angular frames slipcovered in washed linens in the softest of tones.
This year's furnishings are finished with great imagination. You'll see lots of tufting on sofas, chairs and ottomans, one of my all-time favorite looks.
You'll also see furniture accented with patterns made of nailhead trim. Across the design world, silver and pewter finishes are giving way to gold and brass, so look for a resurgence of warmer metallic tones in today's nailhead trim.
Palm beach blitz
If you love color, you're going to be dancing for joy when you see the exciting designs coming out now that celebrate a palette of yellow, coral, orange and turquoise. Blalock has helped create a quirky look with strong influences from the 1940s and a nod to iconic images from Asia.
The beauty of today's colorful designs is that there is no "right" answer: You are free to pick the amount and intensity of color to suit your personal taste. Here's an approach Blalock loves: Start with a creamy tufted sofa featuring nailhead trim. Add a pair of tall winged-back chairs covered in rich tones. Finish off with accessories that rev up or soften your color statement, as you see fit.
Painted wood trim and bold fabrics
I've been a fan of painted wood furniture for a long time, especially in classic colors like white, cream and black. But now designers are popping the top off paint cans and spinning the color wheel to turn out singular designs that make traditional exposed wood silhouettes outrageously fun.
Blalock says this year's fabrics will be on a larger scale and have lots of open space. For example, look for floral prints to feature bigger, cleaner artwork with motifs surrounded by visual openness, instead of the densely layered patterns of old. The secret to this fresh feel is fewer details in the design, she says.
Ivy League prep
Preppy is back, but this time, it's so much better. Designers are blending today's bold color palettes, painted wood furniture and sock-it-to-me patterns to create spaces that are so energizing, you'll want to take up lacrosse or polo. Menswear fabrics anchor this look, but they are bigger, bolder, cleaner and cooler. Wide rugby stripes, leather, plaids and chevrons all get on famously together in collected layers, Blalock says.
• Adapted from Mary Carol Garrity's blog at nellhills.com.