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Home Decor

Napkin Rings - Holiday Tabletop Jewelry

11/11/05 - On the Neiman Marcus Web site there are 27 different napkin ring styles. Just about every retailer of home decor is stocking these rings of metal, crystal, beaded glass, horn, feathers, velvet, paper and even rattan. From skinny bands to wide cuffs, napkin rings can be understated or bold. Many resemble earrings, rings, or bracelets, and might be considered jewelry for the table.

Handbag designer Kate Spade has added napkin rings to her tabletop collection. Fashion designer Vera Wang has translated the look of grosgrain ribbon to her silver rings. Former jewelry designer Jay Strongwater, now known for picture frames, boxes and gift items crafted from enamel and Swarovski crystals, has expanded his line with napkin rings.

"It comes down to personalizing the table," said Rebecca Thuss, style director for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. "Napkin rings can be a simple way to embellish a table setting. And it speaks so much to the fusion of home and fashion." Thuss said that at a recent New York gift show, napkin rings crafted of beads and resin were almost identical to bracelets of the same materials. Like jewelry, napkin rings make the table "feel polished and complete." "You can switch them out for a totally different look," said Thuss. With holiday celebrations approaching, a fancy accent is a welcome note that makes the table special, embellishing heirlooms or "the good china." With any reflection of the season as the focal point, Thuss said, the table is a way to express your personal style. Plus, there are no rules. "People really love to mix things up," Thuss said. "If you have simple china, you can have an embellished napkin ring, or if you have really embellished china, you might want to keep the napkin rings simple."

Hollywood Glam

10/15/05 - Nostalgia for old-fashioned glamour has been translated into home decor. Mirrored furniture. Chaises. Bars serving martinis. Vanities with triple mirrors and perfume bottles. Fabrics and finishes with shimmer. Trends expert Michelle Lamb calls Hollywood Glam "a trend with legs" that promises to keep gaining converts. She and other trend watchers say it also ties in with signs that our color palette is ready to shift back into neutral. "Everyone wants to feel like a star or a starlet," she said. "People like the idea of being pampered. Glamour looks good, feels good and ties in with the luxurious fabrics of the moment -- linen, velvet and silk." Lamb said Hollywood Glam also appeals to a need we all have for more time in a fast-paced world. "It's the look of money," she said. "Jean Harlow had the time to sit before a dressing table. Hollywood Glam is about having the time to sit in a dressing room or mix a martini. Who has time for that today? I think it feeds the American dream. You can live like that and you can have the time to look like that."

The glam trend has been building for several years, and is now accessible and affordable. Inspiration comes from designs of the 1920s through the 1940s. Glam has some vestiges of Hollywood Regency, a style that originated in Southern California in 1930 that combines English, French Regency, Greek Revival and old Hollywood, infused with art deco.

Home Decor Echos Fashion Trends

8/15/05 - One of the best ways to predict the trendiest new looks and colors in home decor is to take a look at the latest in fashion. While fashion changes with the minute, decorating trends usually stick around a while longer, said Hancock Fabric's buyer for decor fabrics, Marscia Mahoney. "Color trends don't change a whole lot on the decorator end. It lasts a little longer than fashion," Mahoney said.

Luxe: This fall, it's all about rich colors and fabrics. Silks, brocades and damasks in jewel tones like plum, burgundy and gold will be everywhere. Anything that sparkles or shines - metallic finishes, satins, sequins - create an air of opulence, Macy's experts said. The trend can be translated into home decor with damask or brocade slipcovers in golds or reds, silk throw pillows or sequin-edged curtains. Try beaded lamp shades or fur-lined blankets for a lux look.

Western: Hancock Fabric's Mahoney said coral and salmon-hued fabrics have been popular for some time, with no signs of stopping. Accessorize with a coral-colored throw or turquoise pottery.

Romance: Romantic embellishments are seen on many of this fall's clothes. Macy's fall lines will feature romantic blouses with ruffles and vintage-inspired prints.The same looks can be achieved in the home by hanging lace curtains, choosing a vintage floral fabric for couches or chairs or picking soft paint colors. Look for wallpapers in vintage floral patterns or tablecloths with ruffled edges.

Decorations becoming more popular for Fourth of July

7/03/05 - Christmas, Halloween and Thanksgiving no longer hold the monopoly on holiday decorations. Consumers are expressing a new and growing passion for more decorations to help them celebrate other important holidays throughout the year and marketers and retailers are taking heed.

Americans spent an estimated $14.7 billion for seasonal and holiday decorations in 2004, according to MindBranch Inc., a Massachussetts-based market research firm. The average decorating household spends about $215 buying new decorations each year, according to the firm.

Some homes are decked out in patriotic bunting, while others sport lighted signs, decorative flags, and trendy outdoor inflatables. The most popular decoration -the American flag.

Primary Color for the Table

The new stars of the table are fashion plates. Dishes have emerged as one of the home's hottest fashion accessories. Besides punchy colors, there are upbeat patterns such as stripes, polka dots, paisleys and retro-look geometrics. Some fresh interpretations of florals have a sketchy quality, like a child's drawing. Translucent glass and ceramic plates in sherbet pastels are reminiscent of sheer, gauzy fabrics. Pewter bands bordering dishes suggest metal cuffs popular in jewelry. Some plates are edged with beading like strings of pearls. Embossed detailing mimics quilting and embroidering.

For aficionados of color, a salsa's happy hues may invite a complementary canvas, perhaps a tweedy texture exploding against an orange plate with red and skinny blue stripes like those on serapes. The color burst isn't limited to casual patterns. The Avington collection of dinnerware by noted British furnishings designer William Yeoward comes in what Neiman Marcus describes as "ravishing" hues: rich orchid, persimmon, apple green and Aegean blue, all rimmed with simple gold bands.

Global influences are apparent in the Byzance dinnerware available through Horchow. It features four bright shades: peony, blue, apricot and papaya. Not only do consumers want to celebrate life and be happy, they've reached a new comfort level with color, says Melanie Wood, a color and design consultant to the home fashion industry. In particular we see now a huge influence of orange and pinks. Add kiwi, lime and ocean blues. Fashion designer Kate Spade, a relative newcomer to the home beat, brings her perky handbag palette and patterns, a mix of vivid pink, green, coral and yellow, to plates. Whether we'll change plates as often as handbags is up for debate.

Some already think this category, which represents about 7 percent of the $7 billion housewares industry, has become more disposable. Affordability has instigated some of that. A stylish tropical pattern - for example, a bright green palm frond clinging to the left side of a squarish white plate - was a recent offering at Target for only $21.24 for 16 pieces. Then, too, there has been a shift in attitudes about the way we entertain. Bridal registries of the past almost always listed two sets of china - one fancy, one for every day. Preferences now favor casual dining, and in recent years, that's been underscored by more simplicity in lifestyles, home design, food and presentation. Casual dinnerware now represents 67 percent of the market. "A lot of brides are registering for more funky pieces," says Carla Fratto, a spokeswoman for Vietri, a company that imports Italian dinnerware. Fratto says fashion hues can be integrated with more traditional patterns, such as Vietri's own Bianco, simple terra-cotta-edged, white- glazed dinnerware originally produced in the 1300s by Tuscan peasants.

Colored plates, of course, are not new. Cobalt, red, yellow, light green and aqua remain in the palette of Fiestaware, which the Homer Laughlin Co. launched in the mid-1930s. In fact, the company's newest hue, peacock blue, introduced in January at the International Home & Housewares show in Chicago, was credited by critic Roger Ebert with inspiring the palette of "Robots." "Even the shapes of some of the robots resemble the plump art deco lines of a Fiestaware teapot or water pitcher," wrote Ebert.

What is different now is the direct connect between fashion and home, one that keeps trends from Europe on speed dial. Got an apple green iPod? Get an apple green plate, handbag or pillow. Fashion-based hues are the result of improved glazes, which also are capable of more light reflection, allowing depth and unusual combinations. "The consumer wants that almost chameleon complexity of color," says Wood. Even more unusual twinnings, such as icy blue with chocolate (a key part of California designer Barbara Barry's new Henredon furniture collection), have counterparts for the table. And gender- bending pink, which started popping up in the home a couple of years ago, graces the tabletop in pale blush or hot variations that send it into peach tones.

Setting the table may be another way of decorating, but some might make a distinction between setting and dressing. In both contexts, dressing expresses individual tastes and personalities, "whether it's wearable fashion or tabletop fashion," Wood says. An educated, cosmopolitan consumer reads and watches TV makeover shows, sees one-day transformations and realizes that "with color, you can create something amazing," Wood says. "Quite often you can't go re-cover your sofa, paint your walls, change your draperies," Wood says. "But putting a splash of color on the table is not a major expenditure - and you can completely change the look of a room."

Copyright 2005 |By Elaine Markoutsas

Home Decor in the UK

5/27/05 - Housewares are flying off the shelves with one in four (25%) British consumers believing it is worth paying more for items that last. Fewer than one in five (18%) buy kitchen and other goods for the home for function rather than style, according to research.

Shoppers spent almost 10 billion pounds on housewares last year, including textiles and utensils, a 12% increase between 2000 and 2004. Consumer spending is expected to rise by an additional 11% between 2004 and 2009.

Senior retail analyst Richard Caines said: "It is clear that the British are now taking a more 'throw-away' approach to decorating their homes. Indeed, housewares are replaced not because they are old or worn, but simply to get a new look. This is very much a trend from the clothing fashion world, where people are buying high fashion items at rock bottom prices, so that they can afford to up-date their wardrobes as often as they desire. This trend is epitomised by the fact that many of the most dynamic fashion clothing stores are now entering the housewares market."

The survey of 2,000 adults found as many as one in four (24%) have special tableware for Christmas dining and one in five (19%) use different china and glasses for different occasions, and 14% said they have specific tableware for the garden.

"There would seem to be a general cocooning effect where consumers are looking to enhance their homes and make them more comfortable places to relax and entertain.This trend has generated greater demand for soft furnishings, mood lighting and more accessories. What is more, the garden is now becoming an extra room in the house, which has encouraged more people to eat and entertain outside. This has helped open up a market for 'summer living', which includes all kinds of tableware, picnic goods, lighting and candles suitable for garden use." Caines said.

London's Pulse Showcases Leading Trends

4/22/05 - Trends expert Nigel Carrier, Clarion Retail's creative consultant, has announced his list of the top trends visitors will be seeing at this year's edition of Pulse by Top Drawer at Earls Court, London's major international design-led summer gift and interior accessories show.

*Personalization: Decoration and accessories will be more personal and individualized. Carrier explains: "Tastes in fashion are increasingly individual, and the same is happening in the home. People love putting their own stamp on the products around them."

*Mixing It Up: Rules were made to be broken, it's all about mixing up different finishes and fabrics, for a more eclectic, diverse look. "Things are being mixed, patterns, mismatched china and glass, old and new furnishings," says Carrier.

*Relaxation: The feeling within the home is warmer and softer. There is a lot of progressive furniture that is both stylish and comfortable. Carrier says, "The whole feel is easier and more relaxed, lots of tactile fabrics, sofas you can lie on, much warmer interiors."

*Pattern: There continues to be more pattern, both classic and strong modern designs. "There's lots of it around and there is going to be more, and it's going to be big and bold!" says Carrier

*Formal Dining: "People are entertaining more at home and after years of casual dining and white china, we are starting to look at interesting patterned china. The direction is quirky and theatrical; it's about having something fun," explains Carrier.

Pulse by Top Drawer will be held May 22-25, 2005 at Earls Court in London, UK. It is organized by Clarion Events Ltd.

4/21/05 - Gift for Life, the gift and home decor industry's volunteer group raising funds for AIDS research and education, has named Mary Liz Curtin chairperson, succeeding Su Hilty, who held the post the past three years.

Curtin, a board member for four years, is a well-known gift and home decor industry speaker, writer and consultant under her business Mary Liz Curtin & Co., which she opened in 1993. A former retailer, Curtin also worked as director of sales for Fante Stationery and Mrs. Grossman's Paper Co. She sits on the board of Paper House Productions and is a retail consultant to eBay.

"Over the past 13 years, Peter Schauben and the Gift for Life board have raised nearly $4 million, every penny of which has gone to fight AIDS," Curtin said. "I look forward to helping make GFL even more visible and active in the gift and home industries as we all work together to fight this international crisis. It is an honor to be part of this organization, and a delight to work with the other members."

"Retro" takes the lead in new design directions. Retro refers to design of the 1950s through the 70s (rich patterns, bold graphics, geometric shapes, strong colors) updated for today's modern look.

"Traditional". Many manufacturers updating traditional shapes with materials / trims.

"Classical" and "Tropical/Island" still strong.

Among directions predicted to fade from their prior level of importance, in 2005: "Americana", "Safari", and "Lodge".

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