"Mix and match" is the trend in furnishings today as homeowners gravitate toward the eclectic look.
And after years of everyone choosing the dark espresso finishes, lighter finishes in the medium range are now popular again, particularly those with a distressed look, according to Catherine Cushing, vice president and co-owner of Geneva Home Works in West Chicago.
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Light oak finishes have not yet made a comeback, however. Those who want a very light look tend to choose white stains.
"People aren't all that interested in the type of wood that furniture is made of. It is the finishes that matter today," Cushing said.
Formal looks are "out" because homeowners are almost universally interested in creating casual, livable rooms that are always functional. For instance, many choose to purchase low buffets for their dining rooms instead of the traditional china hutch, Cushing said, because a buffet can be used for serving and isn't just a showpiece.
Others are re-purposing their formal living rooms into home offices that are more functional than a seldom-used formal living room.
Similarly, traditional furniture, which had a more formal look, has been largely replaced by transitional furniture that has a more contemporary look to it, but is constructed of traditional materials.
"Most of our customers prefer the transitional look, which is a blend of traditional and contemporary styles. It is not a formal look. It is much more playful.
"So they are choosing rugs with bold, colorful and large patterns to place over their hardwood floors. They are also sticking with neutral browns and tans, which never go out of style, and they are inserting pops of color with pillows, lamps, rugs and other accents," Cushing said.
"A dark Kelly green is the hot color this year."
In addition, the days when people bought an entire collection of furniture so that everything in a room would match are gone. Instead, many homeowners are choosing to insert family antiques, distressed pieces and painted tables and cabinets alongside their more formal polished woods for a more interesting look.
"People are actively looking for more unusual pieces to insert in their rooms, like using trunks as cocktail tables," she said.
When it comes to sofas, both leather and fabric are popular in sectionals and conventional couches, depending upon the size of the room. Those with built-in power recliners are particularly popular.
"They are easy to get in and out of because all you need to do is touch a button and it raises you up or leans you back, so these have become a big seller for us," Cushing said.
"We have definitely been seeing an uptick in business this year," she added. "We feel the economy is finally on the slow road to recovery. We are seeing many of our old customers returning, wanting to replace the couch they bought from us 20 years ago. In addition, housing is doing better and that, in turn, benefits us."
In business since 1990, Geneva Home Works is owned by Cushing, her brother, John McConnaughay, and her sister, Janet McCormick. The McConnaughay family has a long history of owning businesses in Geneva Township, including a beer, liquor and wine distributorship they sold six years ago and several real estate and property businesses.
Geneva Home Works carries furniture for every room of the house, along with pictures, rugs, lamps, vases, throw pillows and other accent pieces and accessories. Fabric items like pillows and upholstered furniture can be custom ordered using the store's full line of fabric samples from its many manufacturers, Cushing said.
Next weekend, July 12 through 14, is the store's annual storewide and tent sale. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
Many overstocks and discontinued items have been sent to the tent, especially for the sale, and Geneva Home Works' manufacturers are even offering discounts on showroom items, including special orders, Cushing said.
Geneva Home Works' showroom is at 33W622 Roosevelt Road, West Chicago. For more information, call (630) 208-0040 or visit www.genevahomeworksfurniture.com.