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Home Furnishings

The Return of the Vanity

12/05/05 - High end to low, modern to traditional, vanities are back.

The vanity revival seems to have gotten its start in 2002. That year, fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi wrote an article for House & Garden that predicted dressing tables would come back "with a vengeance" and furniture-maker Thomasville introduced a deco-inspired vanity as part of its Bogart Collection. Jackie Hirschaut, vice president of public relations for the American Home Furnishings Alliance, sees the reemergence of the vanity as part of a larger home-decor trend - the sumptuous master suite. "It's all part of creating comfort zones in the home. And a vanity is one more little luxury you can have under your roof," Hirschaut said.

"There has been a reemergence in recent years of traditional markers of femininity," said Linda M. Scott, author of the book "Fresh Lipstick:Redressing Fashion and Feminism". Among the signs, according to Scott: the popularity of pink, and the return of glitter, beading and close-fitting, body-revealing styles to fashion. Scott credits this to the waning influence of the feminist movement, whose early founders, she says in her book, deemed any interest in clothes, makeup or a comely hairstyle as pandering to the male gaze. "Some of what is going on is that there is a new generation of women who don't agree that femininity is a bad thing," who believe that a woman can be powerful, intelligent and sexy," said Scott, a professor of media and popular culture at the University of Illinois.

9/15/05 - New trends in furnishings often mimic those in the fashion industry, and now, when the little black dress is bigger than ever, black is also finding its way onto walls, furniture and accessories.

"I think it's time to see color against black," said Michael Berkowitz, a fashion designer who has worked for Calvin Klein and Nike. He recently painted an 18-foot-long wall in his Manhattan apartment coal black. "We've seen so much vivid color in the past few years, and always against white," he said. "Black is fresher. It gives a place that extra polish and depth."

This will also be a time when a sophisticated, slightly flashy version of bohemian chic shows up in stores, a high folk style that blends bling and craft. "Our world is so much about technology now that it is comforting to live with a piece made by an artisan," said Sherri Donghia, design director of the fabric and furniture company Donghia. "It's folk art with an edge."

Look, too, for quirky variations on English club-style furnishings. "It's all about collections and things handed down," said Richard Mishaan, a New York interior designer. "You can make up a history and a heritage. It's so Ralph."

Lighting Trends

The hottest colors in lights are shades of brown, from real wood to weathered patinas to oil-rubbed bronzes. Also, an unusual chandelier can enhance a special bathroom.

Lighting trends are very similar to fashion trends, though lighting styles still tend to stick around somewhat longer than clothing styles. Years ago, there were certain lighting styles that hung around for years and years and were very slow to turn over. Now, there are all these new styles and designs on the market with more on the way. Consumers have more choices than ever before. There are new colors to choose from, new kinds of glass and new finishes. But you don't have to worry that the lighting fixture you buy today will be out of fashion next season, the way clothing often is. Pieces still tend to stick around for a number of years, for three to five and sometimes 10 years or longer.

Manufacturers have responded to consumers' love of color. The hottest colors now are silver and the very loose category of brown. Silver can be anything from brushed nickel to pewter to stainless steel. Brown encompasses a whole crayon box of different brown shades, including weathered patinas and oil-rubbed bronzes. Another color to watch is a sleeper -- white. Textured white continues to be strong.

One of the newest trends at market is tea-stained glass. The color is what you'd get if you spilled tea on a white tablecloth. The glass has an amber hue to it. Another colored glass -- called "white alabaster" -- has been strong for a while and continues to be popular. The light is whiter than what you get with tea-stained glass. It's white with a marble swirl. It looks milky. White alabaster came out two or three years ago and caught on like wildfire, and it continues to be in demand.

Monty Gilbertson: Lighting Design by Wettstein's, based in La Crosse, Wis. Certified Lighting Designer by the American Lighting Association.

5/24/05 - Spotted at the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show in Las Vegas: Color !

Ovens in racing green, golden yellow, aubergine, Wedgwood blue, heather, terra cotta, pistachio, jade, claret, cream, dark blue, black and pewter.

5/10/05 - Joan Steffend, host of the Home & Garden Television (HGTV) network program Decorating Cents, announced her top product picks from the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS), the world's largest international trade event dedicated to the kitchen and bath industry.

More than 900 kitchen and bath companies are exhibiting and over 40,000 industry professionals are attending the show May 10-12, 2005 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

"There are quite a few spectacular products at the show this year," said Steffend. "I found four products that I really like and they all showcase trends in kitchen and bath design." These trends include quartz countertops, vintage style powder room faucets, bold, colorful medicine cabinetry, and a whole new fireplace category referred to as "decorative illumination."

Trend: Quartz Countertops

In the world of stone countertops, it's all about quartz. Quartz surfacing has quickly become the hottest trend in the countertop category because of the beauty that natural stone offers with none of the worries or maintenance required with granite, marble or limestone. Consumers and designers alike are gravitating toward kitchens designed using durable, safe, and natural components. Cambria, the only producer of natural quartz surfacing in the United States, is highlighting its Quarry Collection, colors that capture the depth and brilliance of quarry-cut stone. Cambria is also introducing Yorkshire, which combines the natural beauty of limestone with the strength of quartz.

Trend: Powder Room Faucets, Vintage Style

One of the emerging trends in Powder Room faucets is vintage styling, known for its authentic forms and design elements. The new Mannerly(TM) Powder Room Collection from ShowHouse(TM) by Moen captures the warmth and style of this romantic period and combines it with the benefits of today's technology. The widespread Mannerly faucet features a bridge design with an elegant high arc spout that swivels for added convenience. Cross handles come with two sets of ceramic caps that spell out "hot" and "cold" in English and French evoking a sense of days gone by. One of the most charming elements of the faucet is the heart-shaped lift rod and escutcheon--showcasing the collection's attention to detail.

Trend: Bold Colored Cabinetry

For homeowners looking to add a splash of color in their bathrooms, NuTone(R) has found a colorful cure for the common medicine cabinet called the iColor(TM) Collection of Medicine Cabinets. The NuTone iColor Collection lets homeowners add color, incorporate new shades or complement existing colors in a bathroom simply by adding a medicine cabinet. It comes in six bold hues including Fire Red, Sunburst Orange, Lemon Yellow, Racing Green, Cobalt Blue and Metallic Onyx. To ensure color durability, the steel cabinets feature a baked-on powder coat finish.

Trend: Decorative Illumination

While fireplaces are a common amenity, fire as a design concept outside of the fireplace has not truly existed, until now. Heat & Glo's(TM) Cyclone(R) product creates an entirely new design product category and allows homeowners to capture the allure of fire in virtually any architectural application. Creating a unique whirling flame inside a concentric glass design, Cyclone offers a 360-degree view of the fire. Considered decorative illumination, Cyclone's captivating flame gives homeowners a new opportunity to customize or enhance the ambiance of any foyer, stairway, lobby, bar, recreation room or entertaining area. And it creates a beautiful flame while generating only half the heat of a typical gas fireplace.

--Joan Steffend has worked since 1997 as host of "Decorating Cents" and has made appearances on "Oprah," "The Today Show" and "Entertainment Tonight," to name a few. In addition, Steffend hosts many of HGTV's high profile specials, including tours of the network's "Dream Homes" and the annual holiday program "Christmas at the White House."

Top Design Editors Predict Trends

Comfort and style were among the descriptive words shared by three competing shelter magazine editors in a September 21 media forum staged by the New York Chapter of the International Furnishings and Design Association (IFDA).

Looking ahead, Donna Warner, editor-in-chief, Metropolitan Home, Candace Manroe, senior design editor, Traditional Home, and Nancy Soriano, editor in chief, Country Living, revealed insights into stories that will appear in their magazines in 2005 and beyond.

"Today, modern can be traditional, modern can be country, modern can be modern," said Warner. Her visuals pointed up how the designers she publishes achieve a quiet look through "a consummate mix of a trditional choice of color and a modern take on how color is used."

Manroe followed, describing both the current state and future thrust of her magazine: "To be published in Traditional Home, a house must be livable. It can't be just an opulent showcase." Pointing to demographics that are appreciably younger than those of some more established journals, Manroe reported that, in the future, her magazine will place "more emphasis on people, particularly young couples with kids." Her visuals also included elegantly dressed outdoor rooms. "They're not just a trend," she insisted. "They're going to be with us forever." Then positioning her magazine "between classic and the cutting edge," she made it clear where Traditional Home is headed: "For the future, we're looking to see design taking greater risks. Traditional, yes. Predictable, no."

Country Living's editor, Nancy Soriano, displayed images to show that the magazine's readers now favor "a fresher, cleaner, more contemporary look." Alluding to the challenge her magazine has faced throughout its history, she said: "Every month, we have to get beyond the word 'country'. A beautiful sense of place is what we try to create in every story we do."

According to Soriano, her magazine projects four timeless essentials. "First and foremost is comfort," she explained. "A welcoming feeling is a trademark of country." Second is classic, defined as "historic pieces with a modern sensibility." Next is modern--"not only the elements but the approach," she said. "There is much more diversity in the way people decorate their homes today."The final essential is personal style: "At Country Living we say that if you have three or more of anything, you have a collection, and collections are the heart and soul of many of our houses."

Her closing words echoed what Warner and Manroe had already said in describing their magazines' appeal to readers: "Come home to comfort."

--Mervyn Kaufman, FIFDA

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