Home decor becomes more personal: 'Your house becomes your story'
As fall nesting season returns, home decor retailers are presenting collections that reflect the idea that home is where our hearts and heads are.
Our long housebound stretch may have made us restless for the outside world, but it has helped us appreciate our homes more. Even if you didn't redo a basement playroom, rehab a bathroom or create a workspace in an apartment closet, you probably rediscovered what you like about your home.
"Our living spaces moved from sanctuary to command central," says Elaine Griffin, a designer in Sea Island, Georgia, "and our relationship with them forever changed."
"Our love affair with our homes is at its zenith," she says.
Months of working from home has many people transforming their abodes into multi-tasking marvels of purpose, practicality and personality.
"Of the three, the latter reigns," says Griffin.
So how do you give your rooms that personal stamp as we snuggle in for fall and winter?
Maine-based designer Erin Flett has a mantra: "Collect things you love, that are authentic to you, and your house becomes your story."
Rather than a basic chair, generic carpeting or ordinary wallcovering, designers are favoring items that have a little "soul," from the cozy nap of a plush textile to the tool marks of an artisan-made bowl, all the way to the over-the-top gorgeousness of a sleek lacquered cabinet.
There's something for everyone. Pieces that give off a homespun, handmade vibe. Polished pieces that get the heart beating, with exciting prints or bold shapes. Freeform, elegant mirrors. Patterns that span centuries of artistry. Colors that reflect our need for nature's restorative qualities. And at the other end of the spectrum, colors that rev up our imaginations.
The most interesting new home decor has the look and feel not of a factory assembly line but of a studio. An atelier. A small production house.
A few examples of what's in store for fall:
Look for saturated hues -- cobalt, cinnamon, charcoal, ruby, green and mustard among them. It's the depth of these colors that's new, and also how they're used. They're enveloping entire rooms, from walls to moldings to fireplace mantels and even the ceiling. The kitchen too.
"In North America, red is our warm-color best-seller," says Valentina Bertazzoni, head of style and design at high-end Italian kitchen appliance maker Bertazzoni.
"By incorporating colors like red, the kitchen space can feel livelier and more inviting. And more homeowners are catching on to the idea that a colorful range can serve as an anchor or protagonist for a design concept."
You'll see red in small pieces, like Barber Osgerby's playful Bellhop lamp, but also in larger furniture like Arteriors' Turner sofa. For the backyard, Brown Jordan's outdoor kitchen cabinetry comes in a hot chili hue, as well as fresh mint, Tardis blue and cotton candy pink.
Charcoal and black have gone from being goth teen shades to go-to colors for chic, dramatic rooms. Even nurseries are getting these inky hues, which help make furnishings, artwork and other colors pop. In childrens' rooms, they speak to the gender neutrality that many modern families are going for.
Another style direction, "Japandi," blends the organic, low-key modernism of both Scandinavian and Japanese aesthetics. Hues are mossy, foggy, smoky -- and calming. Amy Donato of PPG Paints says, "We're seeing strong interest in Japandi-inspired colors. In fact, our best sellers are those that align with the serene, neutral essence of the trend."
"I love that maximalism is taking over as minimalism phases out," says New York designer Courtney Sempliner. "The pattern play that I'm seeing with upholstery, the layering of patterns of varying scales and the bold use of color is exciting and much more interesting."
It also allows more of a homeowners' personality to come through.
Regional and global tribal patterns continue to get attention; textiles for living and sleeping spaces feature these eye-catching and often story-driven designs.
"The Navajo are among the finest rug makers in the world, featuring loom work and design on par with the best Persian rugs," says Atlanta-based design writer Leanne Potts, a contributor to HGTV, Gardenista and other outlets. "These Southwestern masterpieces feature designs and colors that work with many decor styles."
Joanna Mahserdjian, founder of Upstate Rug Supply in Hudson, New York, agrees.
"Hang one on the wall as art, place one on the floor in a midcentury-modern home, or layer them with Persian rugs, as Ralph Lauren does," she suggests. "They work equally well anchoring a pair of Danish modern chairs as they do placed in a study under a rich, camel-leather Chesterfield sofa."
You'll find Native American and African tribal motifs on upholstered pieces, as well: Anthropologie's Ulla chair has a mudcloth-inspired print. Sundance's kilim-covered mango-wood sofa marries the handwoven with the tailored, and there are vibrant woven baskets here too, made by a Ghanaian women's collective.
Albany Park's founder Darryl Sharpton drew on his Nigerian heritage to create his Ekaabo seating collection. The name means "welcome home," and the velvet upholstery's blue, orange and burgundy graphics echo West African design.
Florals remain rooted in the favorite-pattern category. But instead of tidy, well-behaved traditional ones, these florals are rebellious. Graham & Brown's Azure paper puts a tumble of blowsy blooms on a matte black background, for instance.
In a collaboration with graphic artist Marcello Vielho, Anthropologie's fall furniture collection includes the Bloom petite side chair with a graphic botanical rendered in bold citron, grape, cherry and basil hues.
There are some fun retro wallpapers, too, like Hovia's Memphis-era abstracts, and Graham & Brown's large-scale, midmod, '70s and '80s abstracts. Look for trompe l'oeil designs like origami, crocodile, faux bois, and crystal or mineral patterns. With one of these artsy, impactful papers on your wall, you don't need any fancy furniture to make a statement.
You've probably noticed it in the aisles of big box and neighborhood decor stores: Rattan and jute have moved from the porch and storage closet to just about every room in the home.
Dressers, side tables, headboards, lighting, seating and even kitchen/bath cabinet fronts are featuring the tight weaves of these materials.
Anthropologie has a cane and brass chandelier, or check out Pottery Barn's Sausalito bedroom collection, with driftwood-inspired finishes and birds-eye caning. Crate & Barrel channels the 1930s with the curved-edge Anaise bedroom set, the Griere cane and wood bench, and the circular West bar cabinet, the latter in collaboration with designer Leanne Ford.
Geometric textures and shapes are also attracting designers looking to create a modernist vibe, but with a geologic look that appeals to nature lovers, too. RH's new bar cart designed by Robert Forwood is clad in faceted chunks of grainy oak. West Elm has Brutalist-print throw pillows, and marble and wood octahedron objets d'art.
Design and shelter magazines' Instagram feeds are getting likes galore for posts featuring floating vanities; mixed-color kitchen cupboards; shapely, soft seating; Brutalist objets d'art; and matte-black window frames, cabinet knobs and faucets.
In furniture, there are chunky, framed wood pieces, like Pottery Barn's Westbrook Parson's-style side table with a cement top, or the Jack table, with a marble top perched on an architectural bleached-wood base. But there are equally interesting pieces with sensuous, rounded corners, like the Runwell dresser and side table in Shinola's fall collaboration with Crate & Barrel; buttery, aniline leather-covered drawers nestle in a soft-edged cocoon of walnut-veneered mahogany.
Wood and wood-look floors add another homey dimension to eclectic rooms, and soften the austerity of minimalist ones. Beyond real wood, there are great-looking laminates and hardy, beautiful porcelain tiles whose realistic looks exemplify how far digital printing technology has come.
Italian maker La Fabbrica's Il Cerreto tile collection reflects the rich grain and hues of wooden wine barrels. Cerdomus' Opera collection was inspired by the woods in historic Italian theaters. And Rondine's Timeless tile resembles textured parquet.
Besides floors, these surfacing materials can also go on walls.
Art Deco's elegance is another decor darling now. Check out Article's Sven love seat in emerald-green velvet, with tufted seating and rolled arm rests. Interior Define's Madeline slipper chair would be a chic little accent, in platinum, blush or lavender performance velvet.
Ceramica Colli di Sassuolo's Joyce porcelain tiles in Art Deco-inspired semicircles and angular shapes blend modernity with that era of elegance. The Tile Shop's Corbusier mosaic evinces that architect's aesthetic in gold, black and white, while its Moderne Deco tile trims a chain-link marble mosaic with elegant gold.
With so many options in so many styles, how does a home decorator choose and combine them?
"I like every single style, so I get it," says designer and HGTV host Emily Henderson. "At a certain point, you lean into what works for your home's architecture, for your family, for how you live. If you have a personal connection to a style, that's helpful.
"I also think that you can truly mix any style as long as you have a consistent color palette."
Griffin says this fall is "when design as we know it leaves the rule house. Even if it doesn't look quite right to anyone else, if you like it, it's perfect for you and has a place in your home. That is what style means now. The era of the truly individualized interior is upon us."