"Simplistic elegance with personality thrown in" seems to be the preference of today's homeowners when they are shopping for the more formal areas of their home, as well as for their bedrooms, according to Anne Hildreth, a designer in the Vernon Hills Steinhafels furniture store.
"Our clients seem to be taking one of two paths when they are decorating their living rooms. The Chesterfield sofa, which is button-tufted with a rolled back and is generally very large and deep, is very popular and people are having them made of either linen or heavily distressed leather," she explained.
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They are displaying these sofas with nontraditional occasional pieces in black or in reclaimed wood like wagon wheel tables and are further accenting the sofas with patterned window treatments and throw pillows. The four-leaf clover quatrefoil pattern looks particularly fine with these sofas, Hildreth said.
The other popular choice is a completely opposite look. It is the sleek, simple, modernistic midcentury modern couch with very thin legs and only slight tufting. Homeowners are often pairing these pieces with brightly colored throw pillows in a Chevron or zigzag pattern.
"This is a good, modern pattern that is not too over-the-top and it is not a square or a circle," Hildreth explained.
But no matter the look they choose, they are shunning skirted couches and chairs in their formal areas.
"We always offer skirts, but no one is choosing that option today," she said.
Area rugs, however, are still very much in vogue, even on top of wall-to-wall carpeting.
"We tell our clients not to be afraid to put an area rug on top of their wall-to-wall carpeting. They aren't just for hardwood floors. Using area rugs is a good way to anchor your furniture in a room. It glues everything together and make you want to go in there to sit," Hildreth stated.
Dining rooms have also changed.
"People generally only use them a couple times a year and they don't want to overcrowd them, so we start out by asking how many people, at the most, they want to seat. Since we work with two custom furniture lines, Canadel and Gacho, for the dining room, everything is custom-made. We ask the client what type of wood they want, whether they want a wood or a fabric seat on their chairs and so forth," she explained.
"Most people want a durable piece that will eventually become a family heirloom and will look appropriate with their grandmother's silver," Hildreth continued.
Designers often suggest that homeowners choose all-fabric Parsons chairs in taupe or gray for the head and foot of the dining table to break up all of that wood, she explained. And servers or buffets from which guests may be served their meal, Hildreth added, have replaced china cabinets in popularity.
Many dining rooms feature hardwood floors. So she urges her clients to choose an area rug for that room which is big enough that the entire chair remains on the rug when it is pulled out and someone is sitting on it.
Move to the bedroom in a recently furnished home and Hildreth said that you will predominantly find upholstered headboards, done in soft neutral colors to offer the maximum versatility in comforter and bedding choice.
Those who are buying all new furniture are primarily choosing walnut or dark espresso wood dressers and chests, but they are often supplementing that storage with low profile beds that feature under-the-bed storage in the form of built-in drawers.
"If there are enough drawers under the bed, sometimes the client can have one less chest of drawers, making room, instead, for a reading area. Having a chair or two in a bedroom makes it look warmer and more inviting and gives it more of a sanctuary feel," Hildreth explained.
As for bedroom flooring, she advocates wall-to-wall carpeting because of its warmth. But those who prefer hardwood floors because they are easy to clean can always use a giant area rug or runner rugs on either side of the bed to make it easier on the feet, she advised.
Steinhafels Furniture is located at 569 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Vernon Hills. For more information, call (847) 281-0050 or log on to www.steinhafels.com.