Trend Watch Tuesday: Return to Opulence

Whether the economy is any predictor of fashion and home decor trends is anybody's guess. I always thought that it was. Yet in stores right now I see an overabundance of black and gray women's fashions --  usually the case when the economic mood is glum.

If today's fashions suggest a dire economic outlook, home furnishings trends suggest the opposite. What's trending now is a return to opulence, and what furniture manufacturers will reveal this week as the fall market opens in High Point, North Carolina is just that.

Look at the designs of the industry's top designers. At April's Kips Bay Decorator Show House in New York City, the return to opulence was best illustrated by the interior designs of Alexa Hampton and Martyn Lawrence Bullard. Alexa's room featured wallcovering replicating Moroccan Mudejar tiles, a velvet sofa and tufted banquette trimmed with metallic bullion fringe and lambrequin window treatments in blue taffeta with smocked headings.

                                            Photograph by Timothy Bell courtesy of Architectural Digest

Save for the $2 paper lanterns Alexa fashioned into a chandelier, the room defines grandeur.

Martyn Lawrence Bullard furnished his space -- the Grand Entry -- also with luxurious fabrics and finishes. The wallcovering was inspired by marbleized paper. Brass, lacquer and silk velvet augmented the old world flavor of his palette.


                                                      Photograph by Timothy Bell courtesy of Architectural Digest

Silks, velvets, lacquers, bronze and other metallic finishes were overwhelmingly represented at Kips Bay.

Another example of the trend toward opulence is represented in the style shift I'm seeing from Kelly Wearstler. Kelly catapulted the Hollywood Regency style into the mainstream. Typical of this style are mirrored case goods, black and white lacquer finishes and abundant tufting. I saw a decidedly different vibe from Kelly in the apartment she designed for Cameron Diaz featured last year in Elle Decor.


                                                Photo by William Abranowicz courtesy of Elle Decor

The apartment's kitchen features a backsplash, counters and fittings of unlacquered brass; brass trim on green lacquered cabinets; and cerused ebony-stained wood floors.

And how about this bathroom? Antiqued glass tiles, brass hardware and sinks, and a parchment-covered vanity adorn this space.


                                                         Photo by William Abranowicz courtesy of Elle Decor

Indicative of the the return to opulence are furnishings debuting later this week at the 2014 High Point Fall Market. For example, this Westbury Dressing Chest by Kindel Furniture, a revival of a 1939 Dorothy Draper design, features solid brass drawer pulls and gold leaf accents.


Regina Andrew Design is introducing this Sea Fan Chandelier in shiny brass.


And Worlds Away is debuting this Braxton media console with rosewood veneer and a gold leaf base.


Charles Spada, the Boston-based designer and antiques dealer, recently answered the question "What’s exciting about the design community right now?" with the following:

“The resurgence of quality furnishings and fabrics, the revival of antiques, and most important,  the end of 1950s motel-lobby-like decorating.”

This statement couldn't be any more prescient.


Trend Watch Tuesday: Black Kitchens

I knew I was onto something when I noticed the black kitchen by Steven Miller at the 2014 San Francisco Decorator Showcase (also House Beautiful magazine's 2014 Kitchen of the Year). But I guess it took writer David Keep's article in the Wall Street Journal to confirm what I already suspected: black kitchens are trending.

The prevalence of the ubiquitous white kitchen is prompting home owners to crave color for their kitchen cabinets. White is certainly safe. But if you love color as I do, you want more. Black kitchen cabinets satisfy our thirst for color but don't make us worry about resale the same way green, blue or yellow cabinets might. And the great thing about black cabinets is how well they mix with different materials and finishes.


                                                                          photograph courtesy of Remodelista.com

In the kitchen above, by Robert Stillin, black cabinets mix beautifully with carrara marble, butcher block and stainless steel.

In this butler's pantry by Munger Interiors, black pairs perfectly with brass.


                                                           photograph courtesy of Munger Interiors

To avoid a cave-like feeling in a black kitchen, adding reflective surfaces to create light is a must. Upper cabinets with glass fronts help. So too do glossy backsplash tiles and shiny black appliances like these from the Whirlpool Black Ice Collection in the 2014 House Beautiful Kitchen of the Year.


                                                       Photography by James Baigrie, courtesy of House Beautiful

The glass upper cabinets below painted white on the inside create light and balance the black exteriors.


Open shelves and white backsplash tile also help to keep a black kitchen from feeling too dark.


                                                     photograph courtesy of CentsationalGirl.com

And a white ceiling and floor on the horizontal planes create balance with black vertical planes.


                                                            Photography by James Baigrie, courtesy of House Beautiful


Those Lazy, Hazy Days of Summer

Next week, school starts in my town and summer will, for all intents and purposes, come to a close. After the winter we had in the Northeast, I am not happy about this. I aim to squeeze every last ounce of heat out of this summer that I can.

I have no idea if there are regular readers of the LGI blog. I do know there are readers (thank you, by the way). But if there are regulars out there (and I would love to know who you are), you may have noticed that I've been MIA. Summer beckoned, and I followed. I love having freedom from the workaday/school schedule. Ninety-eight percent of the time, I write the blog at night. So I've foregone writing this summer to enjoy the extended daylight and family time that summer brings. We've been enjoying late dinners, week-day adventures, and because summer TV is so awful, catching up on some series via On Demand and Netflix. (We finished Homeland and are now into House of Cards. Both, I highly recommend.)

I'll get back to the blog after Labor Day. Or maybe . . . after Indian Summer?


At Last --- Performance Sisal

I've long been a fan of plant-derived natural fiber rugs for the texture they add to interiors. But as anyone who owns one of these rugs knows, they are not meant for areas with heavy traffic and don't hold up well to the wear and tear of the typical family with kids and pets. Despite their rugged appearance, plant-derived natural fiber rugs can be as delicate as some of the finest hand-knotted silk woven rugs (but don't come with that hefty price tag).

At last there is an option for getting high performance natural sisal carpet. Merida has introduced Urbana -- a sisal whose fibers are treated for fire, stain and liquid resistance before being spun and woven into the carpet. Suitable for commercial, hospitality and residential settings, Urbana is available in 5 colorways ranging from natural to dark brown and gray tones. Even better, Urbana is available for Quick Ship in just two to four weeks and can be finished for use as area rugs or laid wall-to-wall.


                                                                   Photo courtesy of Merida

I'm thrilled to have this new product in my arsenal of designer floor coverings. I think I can speak for all interior designers and say, thank you Merida!


Happy 238th birthday, USA!

Can our holiday weekend get here fast enough? I'm sure this week is one of the most popular weeks to take a vacation for residents of the United States. The weather is typically ideal (although those of us from North Carolina and up the east coast are awaiting forecasts whether tropical storm Arthur will hit us). And given the national Independence Day holiday, most businesses will close for at least one day. When you only have a limited number of vacation days, it's a bonus to take a week off but use less than five vacation days.

I'm finally in summer mode. I don't know why, but I always feel energized in summer to get projects in my home done. Maybe it's the longer and unencumbered days that school vacation provides us moms. And for many summers (but not this one), I've had one or more of my kids away at overnight camp. So, in spite of work commitments and the draw of spending hazy, hot and humid days at the beach, I manage to get good stuff done.

With the holiday weekend upon us, it's a good time to show you some of my current favorites in our nation's favorite color scheme. Enjoy!

Top row, left to right: Porcelain Spider's Nest Table by Tucker Robbins; Hex rug by Jill Rosenwald; Navy Bargello Chest by Dana Gibson.

Middle row, left to right: Updated Louis Chair in blue metal from Wisteria; Bistro Napkins from Anthropologie; Independence Toile fabric by Quadrille (photo by John Knott courtesy of House Beautiful).

Bottom row, left to right: Amidships Bulkhead Wall Mount Light Fixture in red by Barnlight Electric; White Lacquer Cube Side Tables by Jonathan Adler; Sapphire USA Map from Z Gallerie.