As tired as we are of staying home, at least some among us have wisely used the protracted time in our nests to finetune living arrangements.
High Point Market, the nation’s arbiter for interior design trends, was among the handful of super-conventions that managed to convene last fall. The consensus among attendees at this massive North Carolina homage to design was that people are ready for a redo at home.
“Consumers are looking for ways to creatively update their homes and make the most of a space where they’ve been spending an extraordinary amount of time,” said Carla Regina, co-founder of lighting company Regina Andrew Detroit, one of the manufacturers that braved the pandemic for the sake of good design.
From lighting to rugs, we crave for spaces that envelop us in cozy yet classy comfort. Coastal and modern farmhouse, major styles showcased at High Point in the past few years, emerged stronger than ever at Market this year.
“Modern farmhouse and coastal looks are both popular styles in today’s living spaces,” said Janine Wagers, creative director for Universal Furniture, which last year launched the Getaway Coastal Living Home Collection at High Point, as well as a new Modern Farmhouse Collection.
Literally defined as “a place suitable for a vacation,” Getaway, lives up to the description with furnishings that elicit the feeling of being on island time.
This is the second collection from the Universal/Coastal Living magazine collaboration.
“We knew by the success of Escape (introduced in 2018) there was a continued demand for designs with a coastal feel, and although no one could have predicted this, our current global situation only reinforces that,” said Jeff Scheffer, president and CEO.
In developing the collection, the Universal and Coastal Living teams were guided as much by a feeling as a particular look. The idea is that Coastal isn’t about proximity to water so much as being about a state of mind, whether your thoughts head to the shores of Lake Michigan, the cool, clear waters of Cape Cod, the Pacific Ocean’s pounding surf or the warm waters that define the Gulf of Mexico.
While wood and metal play a role, Getaway incorporates rattan canes framing chairs and beds, in door inserts, accent tables and bar stools. White, black and blue paint finishes mingle with whitewash and the native colors of cane and rattan. Performance fabrics are de rigueur in upholstered items, and often combine with rattan frames.
“We’ve developed designs that aren’t exclusively for a beach house,” said Neil MacKenzie, director of marketing at Universal. “They are designed to give a sense of place, no matter your geographic location.”
Among the highlights of the collection is the Elliot Key Woven Bed. It takes artisans three days to create this large-scale rattan masterpiece of exaggerated basket weave.
Given that home offices are here to stay, it is not surprising that much emphasis was placed on home office furnishings at High Point this last time around. Manufacturers are enjoying a huge increase in demand for home office furniture.
They’ve responded with stylish pieces, such as Universal’s Lancaster desk in split rattan with basket drawers and glass top, and Regina Andrew’s gourd-shaped Dover Table Lamp with grounding earth tones and natural texture, both perfectly suited for a Coastal look.
Long a Florida favorite style, coastal has been redefined by manufacturers such as Universal with nary a seagull in sight.
“There really are no rules, so mixing materials and colors allows you to create a space that is unique, and that’s what appeals to so many areas of the country beyond Florida,” said McKenzie.
While there may be no rules, there are recommendations, the primary one being to approach the design with a laidback, pared-down attitude.
“It’s easy to go overboard and end up with a themed look that feels forced instead of natural,” said Wagers.
“Bringing home one treasure from the shore will suffice. Don’t’ bring in every shell, seagull, lobster or fish accessory you find.
That’s going overboard and we’ve all seen THAT coastal condo. Bring in subtle hints: ropes tied in various knots and hung in a pattern on the wall, oyster shells applied to a fireplace surround, pendants or sconces with galvanized tin, glass or rope and driftwood used as a sculpture. Rugs should have texture, seagrass, soft plus or striped flatweave. Play textures off each other in accessories, like using a glass bottle next to a woven tray.”
Farmhouse style, like coastal, will be thriving for the near future.
“The pandemic probably accelerated this style,” said McKenzie.
Like coastal, less is more with farmhouse.
“Let’s not go straight to the farm, meaning no chickens, roosters or other farm animals unless it’s a black-and-white statement photo,” said Wagers.
“Use acrylic frames for black-and-white photos. Add metal accents, preferably black or oil-rubbed bronze, via lighting with pendants, sconces and task lamps. Rugs can be faux skin, a subtle modern pattern or checkerboard.”
Yes, we are sick of the pandemic, but at least manufacturers are happy to help us await the return of normalcy in comfort and style.
“Now, more than ever, people need a place that brings calm; a space that can transport you, and that’s what Getaway is designed to do,” said MacKenzie.
Maria Sonnenberg is a Melbourne-based freelance writer.
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